What if science evolved to the point where it became possible to be almost completely resistant to colds, influenza, and other illnesses? And what if I told you that if you did happen to catch these viral bad boys you will be able to bounce back to wellness within twenty-four hours? Well, it’s cold and flu season and contrary to popular belief, resistance via a super-powered immune system is well within our reach. All we need to know is that as we fill every cell receptor with the right ingredients and meet the demands of our tissues, organs and systems, the body’s defenses take on superhero qualities, and this power keeps us healthy from head to toe.
The truth is that using a combination of foods that are rich in powerful, immune-strengthning phytochemicals and micronutrients, and strengthening our bodies with the right physical activities, it is possible to take control of our wellness destiny. Nature’s plants are complex packages of biologically active compounds and when we harness this energy we will witness the amazing healing and protective power of the body. Here are some things I do regularly to maintain my superhero status. You can choose to incorporate some, or all of these and add your own healthy habits to the mix too… So, become a superhero and come fly with me and avoid the flu this season too!
Drink a Raw Smoothie or Juice it Up
So, I’m sure you’ve seen the recipe for my everyday green smoothie. I have this smoothie almost every morning. It’s my addictive morning breakfast. On days I can’t get this smoothie in I pick up a fresh pressed juice when I’m out and about and fill up on fresh fruit. Whatever it may be that morning I make sure that it’s a large dose of fruits (and vegetables) to kick-start the day. This morning ritual is the magic that makes my skin glow, makes my hair healthy, and makes me feel like a million bucks. Everyday, this smoothie gives me sustained energy that lasts throughout the day. My body feels healthy and toned, and my mind feel clearheaded and calm. It’s the easiest way to make sure I get a full dose of healthy food into my body to keep my immune system at its best to ward off the nasty viruses that I encounter every day!
Take a Probiotic Supplement
Did you know that the most important part of your immune system is in your gut? That’s right. Our intestines contain more than 100 trillion bacteria and microorganisms. The friendly bacteria in our gut stimulate blood antibodies, allow our body to deal with toxins and allergens, produce vital nutrients, protect us from harmful bacteria and parasites, aid in digestion, and fight foreign invaders that could lead to infection. Intestinal health is the single most important thing we want when trying to avoid a compromised immune system. When we eat a healthy, micronutrient-rich, plant-based diet, we promote the growth of the good bacteria that keeps our immune system in tip-top shape. And to step it up a notch I add a healthy probiotic supplement.
When it comes to choosing the right probiotic, keep in mind there are numerous supplements available in the marketplace, and not all work as effectively. The benefit of probiotics are realized only when the live probiotic cells make their way to the intestines. So when shopping for a probiotic, look for one that has a specialized delivery system designed to support the safe transport of live cells into the intestine. While there are several good brands out there, personally, I like Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics, which contains 12 strains of beneficial bacteria as well as probiotics for intestinal health.
Make Fruits and Vegetables our Best Friends
The concept that powerful and competent host defenses are enabled by nutritional excellence is not just an opinion or observation, it is the reality of human physiology supported by hundreds of scientific studies. Fueling our bodies with the right nutrients enables our immune system to stand guard against any foreign invaders. The best way of making sure our solders are up to the task is by eating alkaline foods that contain a large number of raw plant enzymes.
So, everyday at dinner, no matter what the rest of the meal will entail, the whole family begins by eating raw, alkaline foods first. Usually that consists of a large mixed greens salad with veggies like carrots, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers etc., topped with a diced up avocado, some sprouted pumpkin or sesame seeds and lemon juice with sea salt or a homemade dressing. While the kids usually eat it all deconstructed in individual portions, V and I mix it all together and dive right in. Eating avocados along with other fruits and vegetables lead to a stronger body and a fully revved up immune system. (We’ll talk more about the benefits of eating avocados in a subsequent post.)
Incorporate Fluid Body Movement
I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about 10 years now, but it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I’ve really dedicated myself to the practice. It’s no secret that yoga is good for you, but many people simply look at yoga as something to use when we need to gain flexibility, improve balance, or de-stress. Those are all yoga benefits, but the positive things we can gain from practicing yoga regularly extend far beyond these. Yoga has helped to ground me and center and calm my mind. It has helped to my body to build strength and stamina beyond what I could do running, biking, or kickboxing. It has helped to slow down my day, improve my relationships, and connect deeper with my children and spouse. It has also helped to improve my immunity.
I regularly practice Vinyasa Yoga. The Vinyasa style refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. Get ready, because this style of yoga can really make you sweat. When practiced regularly you feel powerful, energized, alive and connected. I mix it up on occasion with Hatha Yoga, where the poses are more static, focusing on proper alignment, and held for longer periods of time, and with Yin Yoga, which focuses on stretching the connective tissues. Stretching the connective tissues allows the body to in turn strengthen those connective tissues, with is critical for keeping the synovial fluid flowing and for long-term joint health. Yoga encourages deep breathing and together with the asanas bringing oxygen throughout the body which is essential for healthy organs and a super-powered immune system.
Eat More Vegan Sources of Protein
I’ve noticed that as I’ve increased my vegan sources of protein I get the same benefit as I did eating all the dairy but without the side effects. I have clear, glowing skin (dairy causes a lot of people acne), a strong, beautiful body, an efficient digestive system (dairy and meat are extremely hard to digest), and lots of energy. Vegan sources of protein include lentils, beans, quinoa, millet, oats, seeds (sesame, sunflower, hemp and chia are amazing), teff grain, nuts, greens, and nutritional yeast (I’m not a big fan of eating too much soy, but we’ll talk more about that later).
When thinking of a meal, keep it simple and fuss free. There are times I throw some good quality hummus on quinoa and millet or whole grain bread, top it with diced carrots, cucumbers, red onions and avocados and call it a meal. Serve it with some vegetable based soup and it makes a quick and easy dinner. Other times I sauté veggies and add it to some wild rice I make in the rice cooker. I always keep diced veggie like cucumbers and carrots as well as whole avocados on hand in the refrigerator. When I roast beets I make enough for several meals. Make beans in the pressure cooker, add some cumin and chili powder. Then heat a fresh corn tortilla, top it with the beans, some roasted corn, diced avocados, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Add on some salsa and enjoy a quick and easy mexican fiesta. What’s amazing is that as you cook and eat more simply your body actually prefers these meals to heavier ones you used to eat before. Your digestion is smooth and easy, your body assimilates all the nutrients more efficiently and you feel strong, healthy, satisfied and beautiful.
Get Enough Sleep and Take a B12 Supplement in the Morning
Ahhhh…..Sleep….the one thing we need the most and the one thing we get the least. It seems like we rush through the day to get everything done. Work, school, errands, dinner, homework, dishes, laundry, bills… it goes on and on. Finally it 8pm. The kids are in bed and we are exhausted. The next 2 hours are usually spent in front of the TV or surfing the net. Instead let’s try a different approach. Now most of the time I don’t watch any TV after 8 pm. (Unless it’s Downton Abbey season and then I have to glue myself to the tube once a week.) Instead I opt to just chill and spend some time talking with my spouse. Before bed I sit down to 10, 5 or sometimes even 3 minutes of meditation…. It’s amazing how meditation calms the mind before we go to bed. It helps us fall asleep easier and stay asleep all night. The key is to make it easy to incorporate into our regular routine. Also, try and get to bed just before 10pm. That extra hour of sleep does wonders for your body and your immunity.
Do you ever wake up and just feel like your head is a little foggy? It’s not like your vision is bad but things just aren’t totally clear and you’re just a little bit tired. Try taking a B12 supplement every morning and within just a few days see how that fog disappears. B12 clears your head, gives your body energy and boosts your metabolism. It keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy, reducing depression, stress, and brain shrinkage. It also helps maintain a healthy digestive system because it helps in cell reproduction and the constant renewal of our major organs, including all layers of the skin and intestines. I take one supplement every morning and feel like it has turned my daily empowerment up a notch.
So, these are some little things I do to make big changes in my health and my ability to fend off illness. Eat and drink large quantities of fruits and vegetables, add some healthy sources of protein, take a probiotic, breathe, build stamina, and stretch through a yoga class, meditate before getting a little extra sleep and add some B12 to my morning routine. I am confident that incorporating some or all of these things into your daily life will result in big changes in your health and put you on the path to becoming a superhero and wellness warrior too. I wish you all happy and healthy fall and winter months ahead!
Note: I am not a physician, so please make sure you check with one before starting a probiotic or B12 supplement.