Passing the autumnal equinox here in the Northeast, cool crisp nights have begun to follow pleasant days. Color has blossomed out on the trees in northern regions and in higher elevations. We have gratefully begun to open the windows and turn off the air conditioners that have run virtually nonstop for the past few months of this brutally oppressive summer of 2016.

 

Autumn has always been my favorite season. Fresh air flows through the open windows of our home, and sleeping with a light cover has once again become possible.

 

shutterstock_46723585But there is a downside to this time of year. People with mold allergies may see an increase in discomfort, and cold and flu season is right around the corner.

 

Our immune systems are critical to our health and well-being, but most of us never give it a second thought until it has already been compromised and we are starting to feel sick.

 

The immune system is the body’s defense in the battle against infection and illness. Every day we are exposed to things such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, mold, or a host of other foreign invaders. Symptoms may include a stuffy nose, headache, fever, sore muscles, etc. If your immune system is working efficiently the symptoms should subside within a few days to a week and all will go back to normal. Unfortunately, if your immune system has been compromised by stress, antibiotics, poor diet, or not enough sleep it may be necessary to get some help.

 

Did you know that 70% of your immune system lives in your gut?

 

This having been said, balancing the good and bad bacteria in your  digestive tract is essential if you want to enjoy good health.

 

Dr. Blum a board-certified physician in the field of preventive medicine, and an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City has much to say on the subject of strengthening our immune systems and the importance of doing so.

 

According to Dr. Blum, and other experts in the fields of immunology and disease prevention, there are a number of things that we need to be aware of to keep our immune systems strong.

 

1. Eat antioxidant-rich foods and take a quality whole food supplement: Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially the cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits, are essential in the battle against illness. Fruits and vegetables that are deep colors of green, red, and orange are usually good choices for anti-oxidant rich foods. These foods are the building blocks upon which to build a healthy diet.

 

immune-system-1012. Eat foods rich in omega 3’s: Wild caught salmon, eggs, grass fed meats, flaxseed, walnuts and almonds are a few of the foods high in omega 3s. It is important to remember that wild caught salmon, like grass-fed meats, will be higher in omega 3s because of their natural diets and salmon, raised on farms will be higher in omega 6s due to their diet of grains such as corn.

Always buy wild caught or grass fed if you want a healthier food.

 

Remember whatever is fed to the fish or fowl that you eat will get into your system too.

 

3. Get adequate sleep every night: In addition to repairing themselves when we are sleeping, our bodies are better able to handle stress when we are not sleep deprived as well. Stress is a major contributing factor in the health of our immune system so it is important to get enough sleep.

 

4. Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D: Vitamin D is critical to a healthy immune system, but many people suffer from a lack of it. A simple blood test can show if you have adequate levels of Vitamin D in your system. Ten to fifteen mins. of sun exposure a day should be adequate for most people, but if you live in an area that doesn’t get adequate sunshine year round, a Vitamin D3 supplement would be a good idea. A dosage of 2000 IUs is recommended for most people.

 

5. Take a probiotic supplement: Seventy percent of our immune system is in the digestive tract. We need to balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut in order to have our immune system functioning at its best. You will want a product that contains these two vital strains: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and it should have at least 20 billion live organisms in each dose.

 

6. Limit gluten: Please take note that I said limit, not eliminate. Unless you have a disease or neurologic disorder that is complicated by gluten, it is not necessary to take it out of your diet entirely, but most of us eat too many processed foods that contain most of the gluten found in today’s diet. Gluten can cause inflammation, and that in turn can cause our immune system to go into overdrive.

 

This reaction can cause us to feel run down, tired, experience mild joint pain, bloating and brain fog among other nondescript symptoms that plague the general population. This can also, in extreme cases cause the immune system to start attacking the body’s own tissues in response to what it believes is an attack from a foreign invader.

To read more of Denise's articles, click here.

To read more of Denise’s articles, click here.

 

So there is a lot you can do to improve your health through strengthening your immune system, and now is the time to do it. Your body is a temple. Don’t wait until you are feeling under the weather to start treating it with the respect it deserves. Start today to get more sleep, eat whole foods, and take supplements to give your system a boost. Then enjoy the rewards of renewed vigor, and fewer sniffles and coughs.

The beauty of autumn awaits you, so treat yourself well and go out and enjoy it!

 

Resources:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/5-foods-high-in-omega-36.htm

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/omega-3-foods

The immune system Recovery Plan by Dr. Susan Blum MD, MPH

Health Radar – March 2014

About Denise Mastrocola
Denise is a Michigander turned Pennsylvanian, who has been writing stories since Elementary School. Denise won an award at the annual Lansing Youth Talent Show, when she was in 10th grade, for a short story entitled Procrastination is Fatal, but didn’t decide on writing as a career until she was 28 years old. While homeschooling her older children she spent 4 years working through a course from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Through the years Denise’s children have had a variety of health issues, many of which have been linked to various sensitives; having spent more than 20 years researching and trying different things Denise has a boots on the ground view on healthier living. Denise currently writes for 2 blogs and has several books in different stages of completion. She is planning to break ground in e publishing, and hopes to have her first Historical Fantasy book which is set during the renaissance, “Lisa, My Lisa?” ready by the first of the year.

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