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Simple Tips for Boosting The Immune System

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By: Kristen Johnson, Registered Dietitian & Chief Mindful Living Officer at On Target Living

Flus, colds, allergies, digestive issues, and food sensitivities run rampant in today's world. I recently consulted a parent who's child was allergic to fructose and therefore couldn't eat fresh fruit. My new People magazine had a whole article about how a young girl was allergic to water. How can this be?

At On Target Living, we have learned that there is no such thing as a bad question; but there is always such thing as a better question. Why are we getting sicker and sick more often?

Let's start with some of the most common health problems we face as adults and children. IBS, IBD, Acid Reflux, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn's Disease. So let's ask the question as to what all of these issues have in common? Well for one, they are all inflammatory related conditions. Inflammation of the bowels, inflammation or the colon, etc. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of the body, there is a biological response know as inflammation to try to remove it. Inflammation is the root cause of all disease including autoimmune issues like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers, Lupus, Psoriasis, Celiac Disease, and Food Sensitivities.

Foods and Lifestyle Factors That Cause Inflammation & Sickness

  • Processed foods (Anything that comes in a box, can or package)
  • Vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut, soy and canola oil
  • Dairy foods (Dairy foods like cow's milk, cheese, and yogurt are naturally acidic and inflammation lives in acidic environments)
    • When it came to the case of the child allergic to fruit, I soon realized this was due to the fact that he was drinking 3 gallons of milk each week and his gut health and digestion was a mess
  • Acidic beverages such as coffee, black tea, soda pop, and energy drinks
  • Sugar (Make sure to read ingredients as their are hidden sources of processed sugar such as HFCS, cane sugar, fructose syrup, etc)
  • Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
  • Artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, and colors
  • Stress hormones (cortisol)
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Medications/antibiotics
  • Chlorine found in drinking water

At On Target Living, we believe that the best way to protect yourself from inflammation and autoimmune related diseases is by building a strong immune system. It's your number defense against colds, flus, inflammatory and auto-immune conditions.

Healthy Gut

Did you know that the gut makes up 90% of the immune system, which is why it is important to have a healthy balance of gut bacteria?

The human body is made up of over 100 trillion cells and turns over 3 to 4 trillion cells each day. Because of this, the body has a remarkable ability to adapt and heal itself each and every day. To give you an idea of just how powerful our gut can be-- the bacteria in our gut out number our cells ten to one. Which means, our gut is the powerhouse for the entire body and is essential for protecting us from harmful organisms.

There is so much that happens in on our gut from digestion to serotonin production. Serotonin contributes to our mood, memory, learning, and feelings of satiety. The gut-brain connection is becoming ever more popular as research continues to expand. Did you know Americans make 104 million visits to the doctor every year due to poor digestion?

Building a Strong & Healthy Immune System

Eating the right foods will help you to build a strong immune system that can help your body fight off sickness naturally and can also prevent you from ever becoming sick. Important nutrients to support a healthy immune system include A, B, C, and E vitamins along with essential minerals like potassium, zinc, and magnesium which can all improve gut health. Chlorophyll rich foods are also beneficial for building the immune system and naturally cleansing and detoxifying the body.

The superfoods found in the center target of the Food Target below, naturally contain a balance of these nutrients. They are super powerful foods, which is why they are called Superfoods. The most powerful forms of chlorophyll will be spirulina/chlorella and wheatgrass.

 

Immune Boosting Tips for Kids & Adults

  • Eat Live Foods (Anything that Rots)
    • Example: Apple. When you bite into an apple it turns brown because it is full of live (living) enzymes. When live enzymes are exposed to air, it causes browning, which is called enzymatic browning. These enzymes are also known as digestive enzymes. The reason we have so many digestive problems and food sensitivities is because we lack digestive enzymes from eating too many foods that come in a box or a package which contain zero digestive enzymes. The number one way to improve digestion is to eat (and chew) live foods full of natural digestive enzymes. Ask yourself if the food you are eating will rot if you let it? If so, you know it is probably a good choice.
  • Water (Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Best sources include Spring, Artesian, Ionized, and Mineral Water). If you have acid reflux, try adding fresh squeezed lemon juice to an 8 ounce glass of water every morning.
  • Ancient Grains (Teff, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, Wild Rice, Amaranth, Freekah, Oats)
    • The reason these are called "ancient" are because they have not been altered since their origin. Therefore, they contain lots of essential vitamins, particularly B vitamins, minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iron along with fiber and antioxidants.
  • Fresh Fruit (Disease Fighting Antioxidants)
  • Fiber (Flaxseeds, Oats, Fruits, Vegetables)
  • Fermented Foods
    • Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchee, Napa cabbage, probiotics
  • Exercise (Daily Movement Need for Healthy Digestion)
  • Sleep (7-9 hours/night)
  • Peppermint or Licorice Tea
  • Turmeric (can use in ground spice form in cooking)
  • Lemon & Ginger (Use in warm water to make a soothing tea)
  • Virgin Coconut Oil

We are finding that changes in our diet, activity level, and personal attitude can actually influence our genetic code and reduce our risk of poor health and disease (even if it is said to be genetic). The concept of Epigenetics states that lifestyle choices can influence our genetic expression. We control our destiny and it's our health that is our most valuable resource.

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