Nurturing the immune system: how I just avoided getting sick!

Here we are a week away from Thanksgiving! This time of year is my absolute fav. I have zero shame about loving my ugg boots, pumpkin everything, chunky sweaters, firepits, warm soups + stews, and spicy, cozy essential oil blends in my diffuser. One thing about this time of year that isn’t so cool though is the higher possibility of catching a cold and being sick. Being that I totally just dodged a bullet by avoiding what could have been a cold that may have taken me down, I figured I’d write up a little somethin’ for ya’ll to see what I did to not get sick. This is also what I do if I happen to catch a cold to restore my health.

I listen to my body.

I started to feel that feeling in my throat, ears and head that most of us feel right before actually getting sick. As soon as I notice that feeling I go into rest and recover mode. All the nourishing foods + supplements and no pushing myself.

I buy, cook + eat real whole foods.

Sure, I enjoy a good slice of real Jersey pizza here and there, but I would say about 95% of the food that we eat in my house is made in my kitchen from scratch by me. If I do get take-out, I usually choose a place that offers healthy options and uses quality ingredients. Holla- Kaya’s Kitchen, Local Urban Kitchen + Seed To Sprout ! (my go-to’s!). When food shopping, I choose mostly organic produce and always choose high quality meat + dairy. I choose meat + dairy with the words “grass-fed” + “pasture-raised” on the label. Why? Because you aren’t just what you eat, you are what you eat eats, and if you are eating commercially raised meat and dairy from factory farms, you’re consuming antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified feed (GMOS) along with a bunch of other yucky stuff and that definitely won’t help you have a strong immune system, know what I’m sayin?

I minimize stress.

This means physical, emotional + mental stress. No crossfit + no working out because obviously doing that puts our bodies in a state of physical stress and we are trying to rest + recover, people! Yeah, it sucked having to cancel my favorite rowing class, but I’d rather take a few days off and lay low than send my body into freak out mode and compromise my immune system. During times of normal health, working out is not going to compromise your immune system but actually help it to work better. But, when you are run down, or your kid had a cold and continually coughs + sneezes in your face it is definitely opposite of smart to push yourself to do a crossfit class. I needed to throw that little disclaimer in there for anyone who may have mixed my words and thought I said that working out is bad for you ;) .

I make sure to get a good night’s sleep.

During sleep our bodies recover and repair. Not prioritizing sleep can totally weaken the immune system and make it easier to catch a cold or virus. I had the lights out by 9:30pm and slept until 6:30am the next day. I aim to get 7-8 hours each night, always.

I stay away from dairy, gluten and foods with added sugar.

I do this typically anyway but not 100% all the time. While I eat super healthy most of the time, I also know yolo and enjoy a good treat sometimes! But, when rundown and on the verge of coming down with something yucky it is important to STAY AWAY from dairy, gluten and sugar. Dairy (especially conventional dairy), gluten + sugar can suppress the body’s ability to get well, especially sugar. Sugar destroys the immune system and also feeds the bad bacteria that make us sick. So yeah, bye bye.

I drink bone broth.

Bone broth that is made from pasture-raised chickens or grass-fed cows has tons of nutritional value. It is made by simmering the bones of healthy animals in water and apple cider vinegar for 18-24 hours. The simmering process draws out nutrients from the bones and into the water creating a broth. The collagen that is naturally occurring in bone broth helps to rebuild the lining of the gut, where over 70% of the immune system is. It is also super comforting to sip on some hot broth and a simple way to nourish your body when rundown. I have made tons of bone broth in the past but this year I have been a bit busy/lazy and haven’t made any yet. Instead, I’ve been buying broth that is already made and ready to go. I keep some stashed in my freezer and all I have to do is defrost it, heat it up and drink it. I like to add turmeric powder and a sprinkle of black pepper for even more health benefits. Here is the brand that I love. I find it in my local Whole Foods and even my smaller local health food stores. Another awesome option is to get this stuff from Vital Proteins. It is bone broth collagen powder that you add to hot water, tea and can also be mixed into stews, soups and sauces!

I double up on my homemade elderyberry syrup.

I am sure by now you have heard of elderberry syrup and it’s benefits! This stuff is so easy to make and I pretty much have a batch in my fridge at all times during this time of year. Here is the recipe I use. You could totally go to the store and buy some pre-made but every single brand that I have seen out there has added sugar (no bueno, remember?) and other weird ingredients. As easy as it is to make your own, I understand it might not be 100% possible for everyone and so here’s where I say, do the best that you can. Maybe try to find one with the least added sugar, or extra ingredients.

I consume probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut and kombucha.

Remember when I mentioned that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? Consuming probiotic rich foods and a good probiotic supplement can help your gut microbiome thrive which might cut down on the duration of sickness. I am head over heels obsessed with this brand of kraut (the garlic dill pickle one). Uggg SOO GOOOOOOD.

I use bee propolis a few times per day.

Bee, what???! Bee propolis. Bees make it to build their hive and it contains awesome germ-fighting properties, vitamins and minerals. It also has antibiotic and antiviral properties which means it is something that I will glady take to help fight off a cold. Bees are seriously the coolest and they make the coolest stuff! I love that this company has a spray bottle that I can use for Ella too. I tell her, “Say Ahh!” and she opens wide so I can spray it right into her mouth. Then she says, “Mmm, one more!” :) She loves it.

I take a ton of Vitamin C.

Like 3,000 miligrams per day while my body is fighting something off. I choose to use a supplement that is buffered which makes it easier on the digestive system when taking high doses. I currently have this powder which tastes like chalk but it does the job.

These are just the basics of how I was able to avoid being taken down by a cold or virus,

which I am so thankful for because I have zero time to be sick, feel me? Please note that this list is just me sharing what I did/do that helps me stay well! By no means is this blog post meant to be a replacement for medical advice. <3

Lauren Crist