In my life, I have found that difficulties often become our greatest opportunity. This troubled time is uniting us as we are collectively being called to make wise choices to protect everyone’s health and well-being.
Thankfully, our bodies have an extraordinary healing potential waiting to be unleashed, and there is no better time than now to bolster our family’s immune health! Understanding what impacts and boosts immune function is vital.
Since over 70% of the immune system is in the gut, a healthy microbiome means powerful immune function. Our microbiome relies on a varied mix of beneficial bacteria to protect us from unwanted pathogens. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle has disrupted our gut biome, making us more vulnerable to contagious diseases. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle factors can significantly impact our health and restore diversity to our microbiome.
And the good news is that regardless of our condition or age, making even some of the simple changes below (that cost little or no money) can significantly improve our health, strengthen our microbiome, and make us less vulnerable to contagious disease.
Here are 10 ways to strengthen your microbiome:
Make stress management a top priority.
Studies show that stress is an immune disruptor as it upsets our microbiome and therefore impacts immune function. All recommendations that follow support stress reduction.
Guard Your Mind: Toss Toxic Thoughts
We are the guardians of the gate of what we put into our minds.
Whether positive or negative, our thoughts send energetic messages to cells throughout the body, including our microbiome. We should examine our thought processes and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts – fear, worry, anxiety, anger, bitterness, a negative outlook, envy, jealousy, despair, hopelessness, etc. should be dealt with and not buried as they can impact our health. But sometimes this is easier said than done.
Enter Expressive Writing by Dr. James Pennebaker of the University of Texas whose powerful, simple, no-cost tool proven to improve immunity!
Studies show how expressive writing for just 15 minutes for four days boosts the immune system, physical well-being, and emotional status. Participants report improved mood, improved sleep, reduced anxiety, lowered blood pressure, increased killer cell activity, improved memory, better ability to fight infection, and higher immune function for as much as six weeks after writing.
Unloading toxic thoughts held in the body provides a powerful healing effect!
Toss Food with Harmful Chemicals
Studies show that diet is a significant determinant of our microbiome’s composition and function. Make a clean sweep of your pantry and refrigerator of all foods that are not organic, are GMO, have inflammatory fats, and have harmful chemicals such as additives, dyes, preservatives, and excitotoxins.
Refined sugar is also a priority to ditch. It suppresses infection-fighting white blood cells and disrupts the microbiome, making you more vulnerable to contagious disease and chronic illness. Sugar consumption also prolongs cold and flu symptoms.
Vegetables and fruits are your microbiome’s food of choice. Focus on eating a wide variety of whole foods, especially colorful high-fiber fruits and vegetables and fermented foods. If you choose to eat something from a box even if it is sold in a health food store – READ THE LABEL!!
Toss Harmful Chemicals from the Home
In this heightened time of concern, most people think disinfectants and sanitizers that contain toxic chemicals are the way to clean and protect us from disease. Instead, current studies show that products with EPA registered pesticides and other harmful chemicals that pollute the air, weaken our immune system and disrupt our microbiome making us more vulnerable to contagious disease.
One of the fastest ways to optimize immunity and increase your resistance to colds and flu is the simple removal of all pesticides and harmful cleaning products from the home. Both pesticides and cleaning products have ingredients that directly alter the microbiome, causing obesity and vulnerability to illness. Removal can be life-changing as we don’t realize how much these chemicals impact us until eliminated! Learn more about how to #TossTheToxins here.
Our modern lifestyle, which includes the ability to be online morning and night, is interfering with the amount of sleep Americans get and its quality. It turns out sleep deprivation affects 1 in 3 Americans, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has pronounced insufficient sleep a public health crisis. Inadequate sleep decreases beneficial bacteria, increases harmful bacteria, and impacts our immune function.
With blue light impacting our body’s natural circadian rhythm, we have to take measures to ensure we get optimal sleep. These include getting sunlight directly into our eyes every morning when possible, wearing daytime blue-blocking glasses while at our laptops, and switching to nighttime blue-blocking glasses when the sunsets.
A good night’s sleep is vitally important! It gives the body a chance to recuperate and regenerate from the day’s activities and then regroup and rejuvenate to be ready to meet the next day’s challenges.
Ground and Set Your Body Clocks
Kick-off your shoes, put down your phone, take off your glasses, and go barefoot for a walk on dew-covered grass or the beach! No grass or beach? Become a tree hugger! Simply hugging a tree will also have amazing grounding effects.
This grounds you, sets your body clocks, improves your sleep, improves your immune system, reduces pain and inflammation, encourages weight loss, and helps put your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) in motion.
Go Outdoors and Get Some Sun
We are starving for sunlight! Sunlight is powerful nutrition, and all the different wavelengths are food for your eyes and skin! Morning sun taken in by the eyes activates the 25 or more body clocks that sync with the beneficial blue light from the sun’s rays. Even our gut bacteria respond!
Just 15 minutes of careful exposure of the skin to the sun creates Vitamin D. This increases diversity in the microbiome, enhances immune function in general, promotes cellular growth and repair, and helps protect against respiratory infection. Also, consider taking the family “forest bathing”, a practice that originated in Japan that shows that getting outside into nature increases natural killer cell activity.
Exercise and Movement
Movement is food for the nervous system. Exercise reduces stress and enhances immunity, especially if done outdoors. It supports immunity by increasing T-cells, natural killer cells, gut diversity, and helps you have better, deeper, higher quality sleep.
There is no need to run marathons or go to extremes to get the benefit; regular, moderate exercise allows your body to build immunity quicker than over-exercising or not exercising. Don’t forget to take movement breaks when working at home. Set an alarm to move in some way every hour, even if it is just a 2-3 minute jump on a mini-trampoline.
Garden or Play in the Dirt
Let your children play in the dirt while you get your hands dirty and garden!! It’s great for the microbiome! Researchers report that childhood exposure to outdoor microbes is linked to a more robust immune system and a more diverse microbiome. Microbe-rich environments have protective health effects on children.
Don’t have a yard or place to dig up? Consider a raised bed made with these durable raised beds that are naturally rot-resistant and don’t contain any chemicals. You can place this garden bed where it’ll get the sun or shade it needs and where it’s easy for you to access.
Get a pet to love!
Having a pet living in the house helps diversify our microbiome and improve our immune systems. Studies show that kids raised with pets have lower rates of allergies and obesity. The unconditional love that a pet provides is in itself a boon to the immune system!
These steps can optimize your family’s immune systems, well-being and health! I hope that these suggestions will be useful as a guide to help your family thrive because we all deserve to live the most healthy, vibrant lives possible!
To learn more from Marilee and the Branch Basics team, head over to their website + blog for all things non-toxic living. And be sure to use the code “PP15” for 15% off your Branch Basics Starter Kit!