Is it just me or has cold and flu season started early this year?
I’m hearing nonstop chatter around town about nasty coughs and sinus infections going around, which to me translates to one thing: boost that immune system, baby!
As we head into the winter months, I’m trying to give my body a little push to bolster my defenses and hopefully stave off whatever everyone else is getting. I don’t take many supplements, but one thing I take every single day is vitamin D. Read this great article from Dr. Mark Hyman. It perfectly sums up all the reasons I take vitamin D on a daily basis. Especially in Wisconsin’s dreary winters.
I also take a good quality probiotic. Did you know that 60-80% of your body’s immune system is found in your gut? By “gut” I’m talking about your digestive tract, which can run between 20-30 feet long. In short, we can have two kinds of bacteria in our intestines: good bacteria (healthy flora) and bad bacteria (parasites, foreign microbes, etc.). The whole goal of taking a probiotic is to boost the level of good bacteria in the body so that all the good guys can essentially outweigh the bad guys and keep illness from taking root.
That’s the nutshell version. For some geeky scientific stuff about good bacteria’s role in your immune health, check out this piece from Mark’s Daily Apple.
As much as I believe in the importance of vitamin D and probiotics, they aren’t the end all. My number one defender against illness is simple: clean, wholesome, healthy food. (And lots of pure water.)
Although I try to eat a well balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits year round, I’m especially conscious around this time of year. With just a few months before the holiday season begins—and with it the stress of traveling, entertaining, and all that stuff—as well as cold and flu season starting, it’s crucial now more than ever to keep boosting that diet with super foods like organic greens, berries, apples, avocados, coconut oil, chia seeds, herbs, and spices. This way we’re laying a strong foundation and supporting our bodies in every way possible.
This Apple Immunity Cocktail is something I drink on an almost daily basis. Just a little glass packs a ton of immune boosting power!
- Raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is chock-full of compounds that aid in overall health, not just immunity. Raw apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s) has “the mother” in it, which is a natural health aid that is believed to have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. My friend Kim wrote this helpful post on all of the benefits of apple cider vinegar, so check it out for a great read.
- Cinnamon, as I’ve said before, helps to balance blood sugar, but it also has been noted in studies to stop the growth of bacteria. It adds a big flavor boost to this beverage, too.
- Cayenne pepper is a nutrition all star…if you can handle the heat! The hotness comes from capsaicin, which has been studied widely for it’s ability to prevent ulcers, reduce pain, and improve cardiovascular health. It’s bright red color comes from it’s high concentration of beta-carotene, a substance that is known to be a key player in fighting disease and boosting immunity. And with all that heat, cayenne is an all-natural decongestant that’s sure to get your sniffles drained in no time!
I often sip this cocktail in the morning either before breakfast or between breakfast and lunch. Having it in the front half of the day sets a good tone for my metabolism, as both the apple cider vinegar and spices really get me energized and awake.
What are your favorite immune boosting foods?
Apple Immunity Cocktail
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup organic unsweetened apple juice (or freshly juiced raw organic apple juice)
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or as much as you can handle!)
Pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake until blended. Serve.