Here Are Few Suggestions For Keeping an Optimal Immune System
While you might feel the urge to scramble for last minute stock-ups on groceries, supplements and herbs, and supplies of daily living, it is good to remember that not everything you need comes from a store.
One of the most serious disruptors to the immune system is stress. While the rest of the world may be in a panic, you don't have to follow the crowd on this one. Here is a quick checklist to remind you of all the things that you can start doing right now, from what you have already in the home, in the heart, and in the spirit.
- Eat Healthy, Organic, Whole Foods: A well-balanced diet which includes essential nutrients, healthy fats, and high quality protein is the best way to keep your immune system humming along. Remember that animal protein is most nutritious when it is derived from grass-fed and pasture raised animals. Vegetarian and vegan proteins are best sourced from organically grown plants and algae.
- Maintain Healthy Gut Flora: A healthy microbiome/gut flora includes a diverse population of “good” bacteria that promotes complete digestion and assimilation of nutrients. You can increase your healthy gut flora through eating veggies you've fermented at home (even a few days will dramatically increase the healthy culture of bacteria in your kimchi or kraut!), eating yogurt or kefir, or by taking a probiotic supplement.
- Exposure to Nature: Vitamin D3, which is manufactured in the body through sun exposure, is integral to immune system function. Sunlight, fresh air, and moderate exercise keeps your blood pumping, forces you to take deeper breaths - helping to move air through the cilia of your lower lungs, and decrease what Traditional Chinese Medicine would refer to as 'lung stagnation.'
- Relaxation: An overstimulated nervous system reduces the effectiveness of your immune system. Take appropriate precautions as they become advised and otherwise live your lives the same way we do during influenza season. Remember to stay calm and clear headed, not only so that you make the best decisions pragmatically, but also to not overtax your immune system with constant stress. Calming our nervous systems is not something we can fake, so this means doing what we need to feel safe. That means honoring your own feelings and making the best choices for you. There are some herbal allies to help your nervous system if you feel you need a little jump-start to relaxation; I like to think of these herbs as a calm friend coming over to remind you, "You Got This!"
- Rest, rest, rest!: Remember at least 8 hours per night (or more) is essential to good health. Naps are like 'pro-tip' for optimal health - if you can take them, don't hesitate to grab 20 minutes when you can.
Kimberly Jean, BSN, MA
Herbalist and Educator, Perfect Supplements
Kimberly holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and a Master's of Arts in Education Research and Administration. She currently sits on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of the American Herbalists Guild. Kimberly has studied directly under Alexis Durham lead herbalist at Herb Pharm, Sajah Popham of Organic Unity spagyrics, Pearl Sites and Tyler Wauters of Hawthorn Institute, amongst many others. Kim, in recent years, started and directed several large scale commercial herbal apothecaries for community retailers on both the West and East coast, with close working knowledge of over 300+ botanicals.
As always, the information in this section is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Herbs can have interactions with medications and other natural products. If you consider taking an herb, I encourage you to read up on it before you begin consuming it, its extract, or essential oil.In addition if you are pregnant or nursing, you have to be very careful as to which herbs you can safely take. As an herbalist, I am sharing this information as a starting point, if you do decide to take action, please consult with a qualified healthcare professional who is familiar with your unique and specific situation.