The temperature outside is starting to change, and with these changes comes an unexpected cold season. Sunshine can bring pollen and allergies and sudden nighttime drops in temperature can bring sneezes and sniffles. Are you ready for the change? Do you know how to prepare? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not by hibernating, or staying inside with wet hair, or getting a flu shot!
The key is to heal from the inside out, starting with your digestive tract. Most of our processed, packaged, sugar and fat-laden foods have wreaked havoc on our gastrointestinal (GI) system. If you aren’t sure of the connection, think of the gut as your second brain. It's the system that governs several functions within your body, including your immune system. About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your intestines.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) may lead to a “leaky gut,” which allows undigested foods to enter your bloodstream and trick your immune system into thinking there is a foreign invader. It has no choice but to fight back and, in doing so, weakens your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to those pesky seasonal bacteria and viruses. Building a flu-fighting barrier requires nurturing your digestive system and feeding it healthy, whole, toxin-free fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes. Nourishing foods along with healthy lifestyle habits sets the foundation for a smooth season.
5 Healthy Habits to Start Now
1. Choose immune-boosting foods high in antioxidants
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidant vitamins that help nourish your immune system. These can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, strawberries, sunflower seeds, almonds, papaya, and citrus. Add in a dash of zinc found in sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and oats as well as a bit of garlic for its antibacterial properties for the ultimate flu-fighting blend. Note that vitamin supplements do not provide the same immune-supporting benefits as fresh produce.
2. Chew your food thoroughly (or just NutriBlast it!)
When food is pulverized by the NutriBullet or thoroughly chewed into small particles, it takes any burden off of your digestive system and allows the nutrients to be easily absorbed through the intestinal wall into the blood. Avoiding any irritation allows the lining to fully heal if it is already impaired or to stay healthy.
3. Avoid excess sugar
Sugar strips the body of valuable nutrients and suppresses the immune system’s cells that are responsible for attacking bacteria. Even just a couple sodas-worth of sugar impairs white blood cell germ-killing activity.
A healthy balance of physical activity is key. Moderate exercise can boost your immune system, but intense exercise may suppress it. Stress caused by excessive exercise leaves an “open window” for viruses and bacteria to hone in and wreck havoc on the body. Your goal is to get up off the couch regularly, but there’s no need to train like an Olympic athlete every day.
Late nights watching TV, working, studying, doing daily chores, and socializing with family and friends may continuously keep you up later than planned. Slumber is the time your body repairs itself, builds immune-boosting cells, and squanders any inflammatory cytokines. If you do not allow time for your cells to rebuild and to recharge your energy levels, your body will remain vulnerable to foreign invaders. In addition, certain hormones such as melatonin, an antioxidant and dictator of sleep/wake cycles, are affected by disturbed sleep. While in a deep, restful sleep, your body produces large quantities of various hormones that are responsible for enabling healing and growth of your tissues, including your gut.
At your wits' end? Try these cold-fighting Blasts for extra protection!
Flu Fighter NutriBlast
- 50% Swiss chard
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- water: top with water to MAX line and extract
Smooth Season NutriBlast
- 25% Swiss chard
- 25% mustard greens
- ½ avocado
- 1 cup papaya
- ¼ cup rolled oats (soaked or cooked)
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- water: top with water to the MAX line and extract