One child just gets over a bad cold and another starts. Recurring ear infections. Chronic coughs. Stomach viruses. Although dealing with one health problem after another seems to be an ongoing battle in most families, that doesn’t have to be the norm. The human body was created with far more capacity to ward off everyday infections if given what it needs.
The body’s immune system, when operating as designed, will curtail everyday viruses and bad bacteria. But so much of our Western lifestyle works against our defense system.
Prevention is better than cure. Put a little effort daily into strengthening your immune system and you won’t spend as much time and money in treating symptoms and rerouting your family’s schedule.
Here are a few of the essentials needed and a few suggestions on how to improve if necessary:
- Let food be your medicine. This often-quoted maxim credited to Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, is just as valid today as 2500 years ago. What you choose to eat will be your greatest ongoing immunity-builder or your greatest health-destroyer. The good news is you don’t accidentally eat—you have a choice.
- Control the negative stress. Most of us live with more stress than we realize. Chronic stress produces hormones that weaken our immunity, sabotage much needed sleep, and promotes weight gain. Build daily habits that help you chill out.
- Mindful mediation.
- Deep breathing.
- Keep moving. Regular exercise has long been accepted as necessary to good health and a stronger immune system. You don’t have to commit to a 90-minute daily workout. Just a 30-minute daily walk—or even three 10-minute walks—gives tremendous advantages. Just get out of the chair more.
Get more and better sleep. A huge subject and one that we’re hearing more about every week. This goes hand in hand with reducing stress. Plus your body heals more and recovers in general during sleep. Chances are you’re more sleep-deprived than you think. You owe it to yourself to get to bed on time and get sufficient sleep daily—not just a catch up once a week.
Get some sunshine. Your skin converts sunshine into much needed vitamin D. Soaking up about 10-15 minutes without sunscreen during summer months will do the trick. During other seasons you may need to supplement.
Vitamin supplements. The best source of vitamins is from the food you eat. However, given deficiencies in our food and environmental conditions you may need to supplement. Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E are all necessary to help keep a good defense.
- A good B-complex including B6 and B12 is a a great supplement for everyone and especially for those on a plant-only eating plan.
- I take at least 2000 mg of vitamin C every day.
- Most are vitamin D deficient. I think everyone could benefit from 1000 IU/day. I take 5000 IU each day.
- Probiotics. Your immune system is based in your intestines and requires a strong base of good bacteria. Unfortunately, with the overuse of antibiotics today, many are deficient as antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad. Taking a good probiotic supplement is essential when taking an antibiotic and can be a good maintenance plan as well. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and a good quality yogurt help to maintain good bacteria cultures naturally.
Essential oils. This is another ancient form of plant-based reinforcement of our immune system. These highly concentrated oils from certain plants have been regarded cross-culturally for centuries as having therapeutic qualities. Gail and I use several different oils daily for building immunity, supporting our respiratory systems, and helping with sleeplessness to name just a few benefits. My favorites:
- A blend called On Guard
If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, check out Gail’s video, Introduction To Essential Oils.
Stay connected. Studies show that those who have a strong feeling of connection with friends and family have a stronger immune system. Building close relationships and a good support network with others is always beneficial.
Laugh. A lot. Not only does it make life more fun, it’s evidently good medicine. It reduces harmful stress hormones and increases while blood cells that help ward off infection. Long before medical science substantiated this, the Bible stated clearly:
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 NIV
An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Reexamine the list above and identify three areas where you are most deficient right now. Commit to taking one action step in each area to improve you and your family’s immunity today.
Question: What one healthy choice has given you and your family the greatest benefit in boosting your immune system? Share your answer in the comments below.