With the winter months comes a higher percentage of sickness (up to 7% more than the summer months). Many blame this phenomenon on the colder weather; the stress from the holiday season and the end of the year deadlines; and extensive travel. Very few ever consider that it could be the nutrition they consume during this time and the resulting health of their digestive system. 70% of your immune system resides in or near your digestive system because of the enormous amount of food and drink we consume that are foreign substances that your body has to sort through. When you plague that system with unhealthy food that creates inflammation over time, this can lead to a higher incidence of the flu, and the common cold.
Let me explain further. 99% of the time your immune system’s job is not to respond to food ingested like whole foods that are high in antioxidants, nutrients, and polyphenols. However, foods that are made up of preservatives and artificial colorings, sugar, pesticides, trans-fats and other food chemicals are viewed as foreign invaders to the immune system. Now these foreign invaders damage the healthy gut flora and bacteria in our small intestine. These bad microbes can typically be counteracted with beneficial microbes when we eat enough healthy foods to support that delicate balance. It is when our diet is made up of processed foods, conventional meat products laced with antibiotics, non-organic produce that this balance begins to fail. As the healthy microbes are outnumbered by the bad microbes our immune system becomes weakened and its ability to protect us from getting sick becomes jeopardized. If you are finding yourself getting sick more than once a year, it may be time for you to reevaluate the foods you are putting into your body, and look at how you can fix the health of your digestive system.
Below are some actions you can take to help fix your immune response:
Restrict the following foods to only 10% of you total diet: processed foods, sugar, non-organic products.
Eat at least 6-10 servings of fruit and veggies a day. A serving is 1 cup for leafy greens and ½ cup for everything else.
Buy local and organic fruits and vegetables to get the highest nutrient density, sometimes up to 3 times the potency of conventional produce.
Choose only high fiber grains that have a 10:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fiber.
Buy organic animal products to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and an imbalance of Omega’s.
Drink lots of clean, filtered water. At minimum you should consume half your body weight in ounces of water every day, and even more if you are active.
Take a pro-biotic supplement. Find one that is refrigerated and has a minimum of 5 unique strands including Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacteria bifidum, and at least 5 billion live cells.