So I thought I’d put together some tips for strengthening the immune system, as they seem to be working quite well for me.
It’s nice to have a lot of tips in one place like this so you can just take the info and apply it to your health. Feel free to add your own ideas as a comment below.
3 Things To Stay Away From When You’re Sick
- Refined Sugar. I say refined because most fresh fruit is helpful, but other sugars are not. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria that you don’t want, and generally makes it harder for your body to get well quick.
- Dairy. Milk products increase the amount of mucus in your system. And, let’s be blunt here, it’s amazing how much snot the body is capable of producing. You don’t want to add to that do you?
- Bread and flour products. Gluten also adds to mucus production, as well as gumming up other systems. Avoiding gluten helps your body cleanse whatever it doesn’t need out of your system.
You basically want to go on a mild cleanse when you’re fighting illness. The cleaner you feed your body the better. That means staying away from heavy and processed foods.
When your system is clear, it can do its job easier. If you’re trying to digest a big meal (especially one heavy with meat), you’re taking resources away from your immune system. Give your body only nourishing foods, and you’ll have a much easier time healing.
Things To Include In Your “Get Well Now” Regime
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – The amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals you get from fresh fruits and veggies is enormous. Make your diet consist mainly of these foods, choosing those with dark colours.
- Some favorites: Veggies – Dark green leafy veggies (ex. kale, spinach), Broccoli, Red and Orange Peppers, Carrots, Squash, Yams. Fruits – Apples, Blueberries (and other berries), Lemons, Mango, Cherries, Goji Berries, Bananas
- Warm water with lemon and honey – good vitamin C, soothes the throat, and honey has natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties
- Echinacea Tea – Well known immune booster. Also generally made with other helpful herbs.
- Onion and Garlic – Cook with these for their anti-bacterial and anti-viral goodness.
- Herbs – Use herbs in abundance. Most herbs are high in antioxidants and healing properties. Cook with them, use them for tea.
- Mushrooms – Apparently mushrooms help with white blood cell production, which is a very good thing considering these cells are one of the most important aspects of the immune system. Shiitake mushrooms are legendary in their healing properties, so definitely a good bet to add some of these to your food.
- Essential Oils – There are some blends that lend themselves to immune function, such as Thieves, or Breathe Easy blends. However, oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and others are great on the soles of your feet, diluted with jojoba or coconut oil on your chest or back, just smelling under your nose, or in a steam (put a few drops in a pot of boiled water, throw a towel over your head and breathe in the steam).
- Infrared Sauna – Sweat it out. This is a great way to move whatever it is through your system in a hurry, increasing circulation and detoxification. If you’re in Kamloops, take advantage of the sauna at Let’s Move Studio. As a bonus it’s less expensive than any I’ve seen elsewhere.
- Pure Water – Drink lots and lots of pure water. It will help flush your system and EVERY function of your body relies on it.
No, you can’t skip out on this. It’s what your body needs the most. Really and truly.
And, no, staying home doing laundry, cleaning the house, or otherwise puttering around doesn’t count. You actually have to lay down and rest. Close your eyes. If you can’t handle that, watch a movie. Preferably a feel good one.
This is sometimes the hardest part, I know. But rest now so you’ll be back at 100% sooner.
If you’re lucky enough to have someone willing to take care of you, let them. Thank them profusely and make sure to return the favour when given the chance.
Immune Boosting Yoga
Okay, anytime you’re breathing and moving in mindful alignment you’re helping your body out by increasing circulation. However, sometimes you don’t have the energy for doing much of anything.
When you’re low on energy, do some simple restorative yoga:
- Supported Chest Opener. Prop yourself up with lots of pillows and recline with your hips on the floor and your torso and head supported. Allow your arms to go out to the side, palms face up. Hold for 5 to 10 minutes. Cover up with a blanket and stay warm.
- Supported Child’s Pose. Do child’s pose with support under your belly and head, turning your head to one side. Hold for 4 to 8 minutes. Cover up to stay warm.
- Legs Up The Wall Pose. Pile up pillows and blankets (or bolsters) under your hips and lay with your legs up the wall for at least 8 minutes. This inversion is one of the best things for your immune system. Be sure you don’t flatten your neck. (Note: Ladies don’t do this one on your cycle.)
- Shavasana. Finish this short and blissful restorative practice by laying on your back and relaxing. This is VERY IMPORTANT, especially after Legs Up The Wall pose, so don’t skip it. Breathe here for 5 to 10 minutes.
When you’re not contagious, come in to Restorative Yoga on Mondays at 9am for a full class of blissful goodness.
Other yoga postures that help boost the immune system:
- Backbends like camel pose
- Hip openers like pigeon pose
- Twists are excellent for detoxification
- Inversions (Headstand and shoulderstand are excellent, just be sure you do them in excellent alignment so you don’t risk injuring your neck. If you’re not sure how, do Legs Up The Wall Pose instead.)
My Tuesday 6:15pm and Weds 9am classes are great for keeping your immune system and body happy.
Meditation and Visualization
Being still and focusing on your intention while staying steady in the moment can be an enormous help. Even just a few minutes of this helps your body know exactly what you want of it.
As I was going through the thick of this recent cold, I was in my bed trying to meditate. I had crystals on me, had all intention of meditating, but my mind was in that ‘too tired to focus on any one thing’ state and it wasn’t working.
No worries, I just came back to the moment as often as I remembered. Whenever I could I focused on the energy of the crystals and got my intention of a clear, healthy body in my mind. And then I’d drift away for a while before coming back. No matter, it still helped.
Most crystals are excellent healers, lending their focused energy to our own. There are far too many to list, so if you have some favorites, look up their properties and bring them out to help you heal.
Here are just a few that I use often and find very helpful:
- Clear Quartz: This crystal amplifies positive energy and dissipates negative energy.
- Citrine: This stone is an excellent healer with energizing and detoxifying energies, and also a stone of abundance so great to have around.
- Amethyst: A powerful healer. Very calming, peaceful, wise.
(I have both Clear Quartz and Citrine points at Let’s Move Studio for only $3 each, so have a look at the crystal table next time you’re there if you’re drawn to crystals.)
When you’re NOT sick, staying strong and in great shape is so important for keeping healthy. A fun and fantastic way to do this is by coming out to play in the early morning with my Yoga Fitness Boot Camp for Women.
- If you have anything to add (we all have our own ideas and approaches), please leave your contribution as a comment below!