This month has been all about health and wellness. From ways to jumpstart your health to how to stay hydrated, and even remedies for the common cold, I have brought you many different tips and tricks on how to stay healthy. What a serendipitous plan this was because I had no idea this month would bring with it the COVID-19 pandemic.
With everything that is going on in the world, threatening our health as we know it, I thought it was time to bring in some “experts” in the field. Today’s post is by Erin Dunphy, owner of mamabairre.com, and Mama to Bairre (see what she did there?). Erin is a health coach who specializes in vegan and gluten free products, foods, and methods.
Erin’s biggest help to us all, and her mission on Mama Bairre, is encouraging us to become our greatest health advocates. She does this by supporting and empowering individuals to get in the driver’s seat and take control of every aspect of their life, thus leading them to health in all spectrums. Erin brings you the “Bairre” essentials of nutrition. She offers many different tools to help you on your individual journey to wellness.
Today, she is going to talk to you about boosting your immune system with 6 easy ways to do so. So, without further ado, let’s welcome Erin and her informative, perfect-timing information on boosting our immune systems:
6 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System, by Erin Dunphy of Mama Bairre:
It is always so important to keep your immune system functioning properly, especially during times of stress and increased risk, like right now. For many of us, we are running on empty and constantly on the go, depleting our systems and causing inflammation in the body. When we allow the body to live in a constant state of inflammation, it begins to tear down our immune systems.
There are so many things we can do to get our bodies to a more alkaline state and reduce the inflammation. Becoming aware is the first step. Once you are aware of what you are feeding your mind and body, that is where change can happen. So what can we do to change this? Along with regular hygiene practices, like washing your hands, covering your mouth and keeping at the recommended distance, the following are my top five ways we can help the body to function optimally.
If we want to start boosting our immune system, we must first look at our mindset and what we are feeding our minds. If we are constantly in a state of panic, fight or flight mode and living in a state of stress, we are sparking our receptors that tell the body to protect itself.
I always recommend really taking note of what you are watching, reading and talking about. If you find that you are constantly watching the news and it makes you feel on edge or triggers fear for you, then I recommend taking a break. The same thing goes for social media and toxic people that you surround yourself with. What we feed our minds and surround ourselves with, we become. Our minds can be the first gateway to illness, if we allow it.
One of the most underrated things we can do for ourselves, our mind, body, spirit and those around us is to get enough sleep. Sleep is so crucial to allowing our bodies to repair, digest, heal and reset. When we do not get enough sleep, and I would know being a Mama and having worked overnights for years, we begin to feel depleted, suffer from brain fog, crave foods of comfort, become rundown and short fused to name a few. Not to mention what starts to happen inside our bodies and the inflammation receptors that are triggered. Finding time to sleep, must become a priority, or it will catch up to you. When you are not sleeping enough or properly, it causes your immune system to break down. Additionally, when your body is inflamed and in a weakened state, it will take longer to heal from an injury or cold.
What do I recommend? I recommend that you find a routine that works for you. If you know you are a night owl, like myself, start to put yourself to bed before you gain your second wind and tackle the second half of your 20-page to-do list. This usually happens around 10PM for most people, so if this is you and you know that, try to get into a rhythm of going to sleep before 10PM. Begin to get in the flow of nature’s rhythm of sunrise and sunset. I know, I know… being a mom, that can sound like a death sentence, because when else will you find the time to complete ‘all the things’, right?! Trust me when I say, you will thank yourself and so will your family. Your body and immune system will too! That leads me to my next suggestion when trying to build the immune system…
Now, I know moms everywhere right now are thinking…. “This lady has lost her mind! When do I have time for self-care?!” My simple response is: “Make time.” Just like you make time for everyone else on your to-do list, you must find time for yourself. Many times we write ourselves off and put ourselves last, because, frankly, we think no one will notice if we don’t take care of ourselves. Many of us Mama’s tend to thrive off of serving those we love, but then feel exhausted, unloved, under appreciated and as though we have nothing left to give…because we don’t. We allowed everything to take priority over our own wellbeing. It’s like the walk through the flight attendant gives us on the plane before take-off… You must put your own mask on before you can be of any good or service to others.
When working with my clients, I always recommend that they begin to establish a morning and evening routine, along with a regular practice of breath work. In doing this, it allows you the ‘me’ time that is so needed by us Mama’s! Also, many of us don’t realize we run around holding our breath. Taking that time to ground yourself and reset throughout your hectic day is so important. No, that doesn’t include the countdown to three before you turn into a ‘Momster,’ I’m talking deep and full belly breaths, at least 10 of them. Establishing a routine, may look different from one Mama to the next, maybe a quiet bath with candles and bath salts or maybe quiet time to watch your favorite show. Try a morning routine and an evening routine. One may feel better than the other to you. If you want, practice both a morning and evening routine! Maybe your evening routine looks a little something like this: wash your face, brush your teeth, apply your nightly face cream and maybe even meditate, journal or read your favorite self-development book. Again, creating time for you with something that cares for and feeds you. Whatever it is for you, start to define what makes you feel cared for and do it! The magic lies in the follow through. Also, create a routine you know you can stick to. Keep your ambitions realistic. Don’t go full-blown Martha Stewart, get honest and real with yourself. Set obtainable goals and routines, so you know it is something you can actually get done and not only fit into your schedule, but welcome into your schedule. This way, you are not setting yourself up to fail and you are doing something regularly that brings you joy and makes you feel loved.
What are you nourishing your body with? Just as important as what you are feeding your mind with, is what you are actually putting into your body. I always encourage eating organic when you can. It will reduce the amount of chemicals you are putting in your body. I truly believe that food is medicine and has the power to heal us, if we let it. Take note of what you are eating. Are your meals balanced? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? Are you drinking enough water and hydrating your body? We are blessed to have such an amazing amount of foods at our fingertips, that can naturally give us the vitamins we need.
My top immunity boosting foods, spices and liquids that I recommend are: Citrus, Broccoli, Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Ginger, Spinach, Almonds, Turmeric, Green Tea, Avocado, Fermented Foods, Apple Cider Vinegar, Kiwi and Papaya. Why? Because they help BOOST the immune system. Citrus is loaded with Vitamin C and is said to increase white blood cell production, which helps us fight infections. Broccoli is loaded with so many wonderful vitamins like: A, C and E! Red Bell Peppers have the highest amount of Vitamin C of all the fruits and vegetables. They are also known to be high in beta-carotene, which will help keep that skin glowing and your vision clear. Garlic is always something I keep in the kitchen. It has been known for centuries to help fight infections. Ginger helps to reduce inflammation and many use it to fight sore throats. I know my Mama’s out there know it can also help to reduce nausea. Spinach is also high in Vitamin C, as well as a multitude of antioxidants. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, which is so important to a properly functioning immune system. Turmeric has been known to help reduce inflammation in the body for years. Green Tea (unsweetened) is full of flavonoids, which is an antioxidant that helps the immune system. Avocado is loaded with healthy fats and glutathione, which is a super antioxidant that helps immune health. Fermented foods, like Kombucha, miso, sauerkraut and tempeh all help with keeping your microbiome (gut) healthy and a healthy gut is essential to staying well. Apple Cider Vinegar (I love Bragg’s organic ACV) is amazing for helping with so many things, but it also helps to boost the immune system, because it is fermented and contains beneficial bacteria, along with prebiotics. It also has antibacterial properties that have been shown to fight off pathogens trying to attack your body. Papaya was one I learned while in Maui (Aloha)… It is loaded with Vitamin C, has anti-inflammatory properties and also has naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Lastly, Kiwi is loaded with Vitamin C and K.
These are just a few of nature’s gifts that we can add to our immunity tool kit. If you feel the need to supplement, make sure you are choosing good quality supplements with little fillers. Some of my favorite immunity boosters are: NutriBiotic Vegan Grapefruit Seed Extract, Natural Factors Organic Oil of Oregano in non-gelatin capsule form (you can take the oil straight, but it’s intense!), HealthForce Superfoods Vitamin C (or a good quality ascorbic acid, plant based/food grade, powdered form is best), probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes for gut health (I prefer Arbonne’s digestive enzymes, that have all of the above and are patented for their groundbreaking goodness), elderberry syrup (homemade is best, so you can control the amount of sugar) and Arbonne’s Antioxidant & Immunity Booster pouches with super fruit juices and antioxidants. Yes, I sell the Arbonne products, but only because I know they work and truly believe in their ability to heal. They are the only products I was muscle tested for and that have worked with my system for about 7 years now. I cannot stress gut health enough when it comes to staying healthy and warding off illnesses. It is the key element in our body that helps us to fight off infections.
This is key because getting out and getting moving is not just good for the body, but also the mind. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy! It just has to be something that gets your body in motion, your heart rate up and your mind engaged in something you enjoy!
I always recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. This gives you ample time to get your heart going, the blood flowing and a sufficient amount of Vitamin D! Vitamin D is so important and our bodies produce it naturally when we are exposed to sunlight. What does this have to do with boosting your immune system? Creating a strong foundation is key to warding off anything!
6. Reduce Sugar
I know that may seem out of place when talking about boosting your immune system, but it all comes back to inflammation in the body. The more sugar we consume the more inflammation we have in the body…the more inflammation we have the body, the weaker it is to fight off anything that enters and attacks it. The higher the amount of inflammation we have, the longer it takes to feel better and to heal when something does go wrong. Am I painting the picture? When we reduce inflammation and the things that cause the body to be inflamed, we reduce the risk of disease and illness.
There are so many things we can do to boost our immune systems, but the one thing that goes without saying is…we must take care of ourselves! If we put the work in to ensure we are building a strong foundation, then we will be better prepared and able to fight off disease and illness when called upon. We were given everything we need to protect ourselves. Our bodies are incredible, perfectly made machines. When we give them half a chance and set them up for success, our bodies know exactly what to do to guard, heal and protect us.
Wishing you so much happiness, health and self-love, Erin
Well friends, I hope you had your notebooks out and took some good, meaningful notes from that read. I know I did. I didn’t realize how much our immune system really does lie in our hands! It’s incredible, isn’t it?
If you want more health-related-reads, check out my 8 Benefits of being Vegan, 5 Life-Changing Self-Care tips, or, if you’re wanting something a little different, read my article on the Benefits of Waking Before your Children – you’ll love it.
Stay safe out there. Make sure you stay home and wash your hands, too! Thanks for reading, as always, and take care.