How’s your immunity looking these days?
I get it. It’s a touchy topic.
And even at the best of times it isn’t a concept with neutral value.
Is immunity a dirty word in your house because sickness kinda freaks you out? Or because you don’t really know too much about it and it seems way too much trouble? Are immune boosting elixirs mainly the domain of
hippy crunchy folks?
Sharing is caring! This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission for any purchases you make when clicking on the links (at no extra cost to you)—which is AMAZEBALLS, because I can keep testing out products to share with you guys!
Psssstt…Did you know that 70% of your immune system resides in the gut?
Ever since I read about the gut-brain connection—that link between disruptions in the microbiome of your gastrointestinal tract and psychological disorders—I’ve been fascinated by just what ‘immunity’ means (it’s SO much more than disease protection), and I’ve also spent a lot of time investigating the ways you can protect and build up the good bacteria inside your gut—because this is where the immunity magic happens. Immunity is not just about keeping away the common cold (although if you work to build it, you can definitely benefit from less scratchy throats and Kleenex runs!), it’s about a better quality of life, right up to a mental health level.
So let’s get on with some beast mode immunity good stuff.
Here are my 7 ridiculously easy ways I supercharge my immune system, via the gut, every single day. (And you might just be surprised by some of ‘em.)
1. Bone Broth
Bones are rich in collagen, and when simmered, produce gelatin. Gelatin absorbs water and helps maintain the layer of mucus that keeps gut microbes away from the intestinal barrier. Usually, we save the carcass and giblets from a roast chicken, add some leftover veggie bits, and use my favourite, near-effortless recipe to make a delicious bone broth. My kids LOVE having it with their breakfast instead of tea (really!).
2. Fermented Foods
Forget fancy probiotic supplements. Every morning we have kefir—a creamy, fermented drink made from milk and grain-like colonies of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. It sounds seriously gross, but I’m telling you, this stuff is addictive! And the better quality milk you feed your kefir grains (you can grab some grains on Amazon), the more ridiculously good it will be. Kefir is a potent probiotic, and has been shown to treat colitis, and even lactose intolerance. (We also add organic, raw sauerkraut—this one is our go-to—to our salads for an extra probiotic punch.)
3. Get Moving
To be honest, I work out every day to manage anxiety, and because I love the endorphin rush. But on an explicit immune system level, working up a daily sweat can bolster the number of beneficial microbial species and enrich microflora diversity in the gut, improving overall health and preventing disease long term.
I’ve been training online with Lisa from the thewkout.com for while—she incorporates HIIT strength and cardio training, plus yoga wkouts, into the weekly exercise schedules—and I’ll never set foot in a gym again.
This is a new one for me, but something I’m finding has profound benefit in taking me ‘out of my head’ and into the moment. Not only can meditation improve general gastrointestinal function by inducing the rest+digest response, but because meditation alleviates stress, and stress causes gut inflammation, it’s an incredibly beneficial practice for protecting immunity, (whose central point is in the gut itself, remember?).
A game-changing book for me was The End of Night, by Paul Bogard. It laments the loss of darkness in the modern age, and how artificial light has invaded the natural world and wreaked havoc with our health. It’s prompted me to alter the way I use light, especially at night, because our brains need that ‘switch-off’ signal to trigger vital hormones to help restore health. Every evening, around 5 pm, we switch to candles and low lights, and embargo any screen usage…for the kids (the grownups cheat with these blue blocker glasses 😁).
6. Intermittent Fasting
Another life-changing read is The Circadian Code, by Dr. Satchin Panda, which explains the vast and integral health benefits of intermittent fasting—wayyy beyond weight loss.
During deep sleep, the brain produces a growth hormone that is meant to repair the gut lining. In order for this to best work, you need to allow the body to fully repair itself. “Just like you can’t repair a highway when the traffic is flowing,” explains Panda, “you can’t eat two to three hours before bedtime.” Basically, if your body is embroiled in late night digestion, it cannot attend to restoration and repair—meaning more unfixed holes in the gut for bacteria to seep in. I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting (only eating within a certain time window) for the last two years, and I’ll never go back.
7. Ingredients To Add To Your Meals Everyday
Generally, the mod squad of immunity ingredients includes garlic, turmeric (taken in conjunction with black pepper to boost antioxidant effect), foods with Vitamin C—did you know broccoli has more Vit C than an orange??—ginger, and Ceylon Cinnamon. We try to incorporate as many of these into our daily meals, beverages and snacks as possible. One favourite is this Spiced Hot Toddy, also the bomb at relieving the first symptoms of a cold. All you need is just a few pantry staple ingredients, and five minutes, tops!
Hit me up in the comments with YOUR immune boosting tips!xPrint
A delish, cold-busting spiced hot toddy recipe PLUS 6 ways to boost your immunity that have nothing to do with supplements.
- 1 tsp true cinnamon
- 1 thumb-size knob of ginger root, peeled (can sub with ground spice)
- 1 thumb-size knob of turmeric root, peeled (can sub with ground spice)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of one lemon
- Zest of orange (optional)
- Honey, to taste
- Add all ingredients except honey to one cup of hot water (not boiling), and stir to combine. Leave flavours to infuse for 5 minutes, then spoon out ginger and turmeric root. Add honey to taste (I usually add around 2tsp).
- Drink as hot as you can muster :).