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Out of the Woods

This month the focus is on immune function. Most people know that diet and lifestyle affect immune function. But what else is important and what foods and lifestyles are important verses destructive?

Let’s keep things simple and doable. Each and every thing you do to assist your health you should high five yourself for. Don’t get bogged down in what you are not doing or what everyone else is doing. Just keep learning and do your best with the information you have! As you know better, do better!

In the colder months it’s ideal to keep your foods and drinks warm! Think soups, broths, stews, slow cooked meals. These meals are great to throw in ingredients that will boost immune function such as turmeric, ginger and garlic. But don’t fear if you are a smoothie warrior even in winter there is plenty of room to throw in some immune boosters such as turmeric, vitamin c, zinc, greens powders (such as spirulina) and your mushroom complexes (chaga, reishi, turkey tail, shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane and cordyceps have all been shown to have immune-balancing effects and antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body.) I even throw bone broth into my kid’s smoothies sometimes! Ditch the processed sugar too. If you haven’t seen that sugar film then it’s well worth a watch (for the kids too!). A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating just 100g of sugar significantly hampered the ability of white blood cells (neutrophils) to engulf and destroy bacteria for up to 5 hours. Since neutrophils make up to 70% of the total circulating white blood cells and white blood cells are essential for optimal immune function, eating sugar (especially often) can severely impair the ability of your immune system.

It’s not just your foods that are ideal to be warm, it’s your body. Keeping yourself warm can really help your immune system. Especially making sure your feet and head are warm, keeping out of winds / drafts and making sure you dry your hair if you wash it or get caught out in the weather.

Nutrient deficiencies of virtually any nutrient can result in significantly impaired immune function especially vitamins C, D, E, A, and the B-vitamins. Minerals that are especially important are zinc, iron, and selenium. Essential fatty acids play a key role in decreasing inflammation so they are another great supplement in times of stress and inflammatory illness. Plant based medicinals such as echinacea, olive leaf extract, andrographis are all believed to have immune boosting capabilities (for prevention of colds and flus) as well as helpful in the treatment phase. One of my favourite supplements is Bioceuticals Armaforce for prevention and early treatment of cold and flu symptoms naturally. Just because a lot of these remedies are ‘natural’ does not mean they don’t have side effects or negative interactions with other products so it’s essential to consult your natural health care practitioner to ensure you are taking the right supplements for you, the correct doses and combinations. I go straight to see my naturopath and acupuncturist when myself or kids are getting sick or I know we are going to need extra immune support such as when travelling. They can make up wonderful herbal concoctions specific for you and your needs. Acupuncture in combination with herbal supplements is essential for our family. We all go at least once per month for optimising our health and more frequently in times of sickness, stress or injury.

Another go to for our family is Bioresonace therapy (also known as Bicom therapy). I love it for health optimisation but also particularly when you have something tricky that you can’t quite diagnose or get to the bottom of. The use of vials and frequency is amazing for not only detecting the key imbalance(s) but also correcting those imbalances. Often this goes hand in hand with homeopathy and nutritional support. Homeopathy and tissue salts are another staple in our home (check out the Scheussler Tissue Salt range).

If you are not getting enough sleep then chances are you don’t just feel tired but your body is not healing and regenerating to its full capacity. Recent research has shown that sleep deprivation is as detrimental to the body as physical stress as it decreases the T-cells which in turn increased inflammatory cytokines. In short it depletes your immune system, predisposing you to a higher chance of contracting a cold or flu if exposed.

So, this winter keep warm, eat warm nutritious foods, keep your body moving, avoid sugar, and try minimising your stress levels. If you are sick and can’t get into the clinics please call us as there are so many things we can do to help including phone / zoom consults, sharing recipes, making up herbal supplements specifically for you and prescribing supplements. Remember to get some natural Vitamin D as it’s an often unrecognised immune booster and mood booster. Getting out in the middle of the day and ideally having your stomach receptors open to the sun can really help! Did you know that a window blocks most if not all the Vitamin D absorption to the body! So get outside on those sunny days and get some grounding with your bare feet on the ground while you are at it! Much easier for us up here in sunny Queensland I must say!!!

Author: Kate Wood

Kate has represented Australia as an 800m runner, winning five Australian titles and competing on the international stage. She also lectured track & field at the Australian College of Physical Education. After being forced into an early retirement due to injury, Kate turned to helping others with their health and wellness, with a special focus on families, pre-conception, pregnancy and paediatrics.

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