Your immune system consists of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders (tiny organisms such as bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses). It is the immune system’s job to keep them out, or failing that, to seek out and destroy them. With winter’s cold and flu season already upon us, it would behoove you to stoke the functioning of your immune system so that you’re able to fend off any nasty invaders should they decide to take up residence, possibly rendering you bedridden, cranky, and miserable for a week or two.
Below you’ll find 7 natural ways to boost the “fighting power,” stamina, or vitality of your immune system:
1. Wash your hands often—a no-brainer!
2. Exercise regularly. Moderate cardiovascular exercise enhances circulation and oxygenation of cells throughout the body, and stimulates detoxifying lymph flow.
3. Get enough sleep. Your entire body functions better when you are fully rested.
4. Eat more raw food. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, raw cocoa and carob, nuts and seeds, and fresh herbs and spices are jam-packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants, providing the raw materials necessary to maintain a healthy immune system and mount healthy immune responses if “foreign invader” attacks do occur—and they will!
5. Avoid sugar like the plague. Even small amounts of refined sugar can significantly impair the body’s ability to prevent the invasion of cold and flu bugs. If your sweet tooth is on overdrive this winter, try using nutrient-rich raw sweeteners such as raw honey, raw agave nectar, or date sugar. Dried fruits make excellent sweet treats, too! If you’d like to try your hand at making some delicious raw food confections, take a look at Chapter 11 in my book Raw Energy: 124 Raw Food Recipes for Energy Bars, Smoothies, and Other Snacks to Supercharge Your Body. In it you’ll find quite a few no-guilt, nutrient-packed candy and cookie recipes that will delight your taste buds without depressing your immune system.
6. Reduce stress. Prolonged, negative stress is a major contributor to all illnesses and can dramatically compromise immune system functioning. Regular exercise, laughter, being around people you love or with whom you share common interests, doing fun hobbies/activities, reading a good book, enjoying the outdoors—all of these are great and proven ways to reduce stress.
7. Drink lots of pure water. Water keeps mucous membranes well-hydrated to help them fight off viruses.
Click here to get the recipe for one of my favorite immune-boosting wintertime morning drinks. Sure to wake you up and get your day started on a healthy note, this energizing raw-food wonder is loaded with vitamin C and core-warming ginger and cayenne.
For more tips like this, check out Raw Energy by Stephanie L. Tourles—just $2.99 for the holidays!