How to Not Get Sick and Boost Your Immunity

https://httpvvegan.com/2018/01/15/how-to-not-get-sick-and-boost-your-immunity/

It is officially winter, the time of year where people expect to have sore throats, itchy eyes, and stuffy noses. For many people, this time of the year is synonymous with the common cold.

But you know what?

It doesn’t have to be that way at all! There isn’t something in the air in the winter that makes people’s immune systems break down, and there isn’t an increase in the amount of cold viruses among us in the colder months. The increase in cases of the common cold and even the flu can all be attributed to habits and lifestyle choices. Stress, poor nutrition, lack of sleep and exercise, and little to no sunshine can all be kryptonite for your immune system. If you’re working with any combination of those….

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Whether you need some help protecting your immune system while dodging coughing co-workers, or if you’re already a little under the weather and need to make a 180º STAT, I can help you learn how to not get sick and boost your immunity. There are so many natural and inexpensive ways to bolster your immune system: warm tonics, nutrient-packed fresh juices, herbs & supplements, and countless tips and tricks that can help you feel invincible in these cold winter months.

Boost Your Immunity

Warm Drinks

One of the great pleasures in life is curling up in a soft blanket and sipping on a warm drink (add in a fireplace for serious #goals). Instead of reaching for coffee this cold and flu season, try one of these warm tonics that will not only warm you up, but will help you save those ‘sick days’ for the days when you just want to sleep in and grab brunch instead of going to work.

Golden Milk

Golden milk became an obsession of mine for a good two weeks. There is something so satisfying about taking an extremely strong and nutritious herb like turmeric and making it drinkable and sweet. Turmeric contains curcumin which is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that can help to prevent Alzheimer’s.  Most diseases are caused by inflammation, so reaching for a golden milk latte over a cup of coffee is not only delicious but preventative. One thing I have to mention if this is your first time using turmeric: IT STAINS! Whether in powder or in liquid form, be careful because it will leave a mark.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

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Golden Milk

Course Breakfast, Drinks, Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Tea
Cuisine coffee alternatives
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk (I prefer regular over fat-free, it's creamier)
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • dash of black pepper
  • powdered cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. WARNING: turmeric (wet or dry) can stain your clothes so be careful. 

  2. In a saucepan, add canned coconut milk (hard pieces as well) and almond milk. Stir in turmeric, ginger, pepper, cinnamon stick, coconut oil, maple syrup, agave, and a dash of black pepper. Bring to medium heat, whisk until smooth. Serve with a dash of cinnamon. 

Matcha Latte

There aren’t many drinks that are as instagrammable as a bright green matcha latte. But matcha lattes are more than just a pretty face, they are chock full of anti-oxidants. Matcha’s ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) rating is a mighty 1573 units per gram. Compare that to pomegranates’ 105 units per gram or blueberries’ 93 units, and they have more than 10 times the concentration of antioxidants, but what does that have to do with immunity?

Antioxidants are the body’s defense agents. They are chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases. Put simply, the more you have, the better equipped your body is in the fight against infections and disease. [source]

Another plus? They are just as good hot as they are cold.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

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Matcha Latte

Course Coffee, Drinks, Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Tea
Cuisine coffee alternatives
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp agave

Instructions

  1. Bring 1/4 cup water to a boil and pour over matcha. Whisk together briskly until all the clumps are gone. 

  2. In a saucepan, bring almond milk to a low boil and then pour over matcha. Add 1 tbspa agave or more to taste. Serve. 

  3. Can be served hot or cold.

ACV Tonic

You’ve probably heard people talking about taking Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV shots) before; people have been buzzing about ACV shots for quite some time now in the health + wellness circles on social media. You can think of it as one of those ‘cure-all’ tonics that your great-great-great-grandmother probably swore by.

Apple cider vinegar shots are a great way to boost your immunity in the cold winter months and they are safe to take daily if you’re just looking to nurture your digestive system.

The acetic, malice, lactic and various amino acids in ACV have antiseptic properties, which can help destroy unwanted bacteria and yeasts in the gut, promote healthy bacterias in the digestive track, and boost energy. ACV can also help break up mucus and cleanse the lymphatic system, which can reduce swelling, congestion and water retention (bloating).

Lemons are packed full of Vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds and combating stress. They contain saponins, which have antimicrobial properties. Lemon juice also reduces phlegm production, and it’s high potassium content helps to regulate blood pressure and stimulate brain and nerve function.

DISCLAIMER: It is not tasty and it is not meant to be sipped! Just throw it down the hatch, swallow quickly and wash it down with some water

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

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Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Tonic

Course Drinks
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • dash of agave (optional, but helps with the taste)

Instructions

  1. Stir everything together and drink quickly

Lemon Water

I think when most people think of lemon water, they think of weight loss, appetite suppression, and combating bloating, but lemon water has some amazing medicinal properties as well. Lemon water can soothe a sore throat, combat canker sores, lower blood pressure, help to relieve stress, promote a healthy liver and help to clear your skin.

Aside from all those amazing benefits, I think lemon water’s most important property is that it helps to aid digestion. Hippocrates once said, “All disease starts in the gut,” and I definitely second that notion. After all, most of your vital organs are housed in that area of the body so I think it is vital that we make sure things are running smoothly down there.

There isn’t really a set recipe for lemon water, I usually just throw a kettle on the stove and then squeeze about half a lemon into the hot water, stir, and enjoy. Drink it up while it’s still warm and it is a great way to break your fast after waking up and brushing your teeth. In fact, drinking it first thing in the morning (before breakfast) is said to ease digestion and prevent bloating.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Ginger + Peppermint Herbal Tea 

In the cold winter months, it is important that you lay off the coffee and caffeinated drinks so as not to overwhelm your body while it is trying to fight off airborne and contagious viruses. Instead, you can reach for a cup of ginger or peppermint tea to keep you toasty. Ginger tea has many benefits including aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, fighting respiratory problems, and improving circulation. As for peppermint tea, you may be tired of skimming over walls of black text by now, so I’ll let this infographic do the talking:

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Juices (with a blender)

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

You don’t need a fancy-schmancy juicer to make your own fresh juices. I used a Vitamix for all of these recipes and you can watch the video at the end of the post to see how I did it.

Yellow Juice

I kind of feel that yellow juice is the underdog of the juices. Green juice may be the Beyoncé of juices, but yellow juice has just as many benefits as the crowd favorite.

Think of fruits and veggies like this:

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

As you can see, yellow is fruits and veggies are fantastic for heart health and immunity. Yellow bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Golden beets are also high in Vitamin C as well as manganese (good for bone and respiratory health), and fiber (happy gut, happy life). Pineapples contain Vitamin C and Vitamin B (good for energy production). Ginger is antibacterial so it helps to support the immune system and can also soothe an upset stomach.

Did you know that one cup of chopped Serrano peppers contains 78% of your DV of Vitamin C? I do not suggest using that much in this recipe unless you’re super human, but I do suggest adding just a smidge of Serrano pepper. Too much and the drink will be undrinkable. 1 small chopped piece should do the trick.

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Yellow Juice

Course Breakfast, Dinner, Juicing, Lunch
Cuisine juicing
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 32 ounces

Ingredients

  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 3 small golden beets
  • 2 golden delicious apples
  • 1 thumb ginger
  • juice of one lemon
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/3 pineapple
  • 1 peeled cucumber
  • 12 oz filtered water
  • 1/8 serrano pepper (just a smidge)

Instructions

  1. Peel cucumber and slice. Cut and rinse bell peppers, beets, apples, pineapple ginger, and smidge of serrano pepper into small-medium sized pieces. Place the toughest ingredients at the bottom of the blender and the softest ones up top. Add 12 ounces of filtered water to the Vitamix.

  2. Blend on low for a few seconds and then crank up to the highest setting. The longer you run the blender, the smoother the juice will be. Once everything is smooth, strain until desired texture. I strain mine at least four times. Carrot juice will have a lot more excess pulp than the other recipes. I like to strain my juices until the consistency is silky smooth. This takes about 3-4 passes depending on the ingredients.

Orange Juice

There’s only two oranges in this recipe, but it is still an amazing source of Vitamin C thanks to the carrots, pineapple and lemon. The beta-carotene in carrots boosts your immunes system and its production of T-cells. Carrots also contain over 200% of your DV of Vitamin A (!!). Vitamin A is essential for vision, proper bone growth, healthy skin, and protecting the mucous membranes of the digestive, respiratory, and urinary tracts from infection. A lack of Vitamin A can lead to leaky gut, blindness, gluten sensitivity, slower auto-immune responses, IBS, and pancreatic disorders.

The long and short of it, is that this orange juice recipe is a powerful combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin A that can boost your immunity while keeping your gut in tact.

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Orange Juice


Course Breakfast, juice, Juicing, Lunch
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 32 ounces

Ingredients

  • 3 large carrots (or 6 regular size)
  • 2 peeled oranges
  • 2 red apples
  • 1/3 pineapple
  • 16 oz water
  • juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Cut and rinse everything into small-medium sized pieces. Place the toughest ingredients at the bottom of the blender and the softest ones up top. Add 12 ounces of filtered water to the Vitamix.

  2. Blend on low for a few seconds and then crank up to the highest setting. The longer you run the blender, the smoother the juice will be. Once everything is smooth, strain until desired texture. I strain mine at least four times. Carrot juice will have a lot more excess pulp than the other recipes. I like to strain my juices until the consistency is silky smooth. This takes about 3-4 passes depending on the ingredients.

Green Juice

Finally we get to talk about the grandaddy of squeezed juices. For decades, green juice has been heralded as the quintessential health drink, and for good reason. Depending on the recipe that you use, green juice can be a one-stop-shop for all your vitamin needs. In this recipe, I kept it pretty standard with spinach, green apples (red ones will make your juice an unappealing brown color unless you peel them, but then you’ll lose nutrients), cucumbers, pears, ginger, and pineapple. I also added in a hint of Serrano pepper for good measure.

The spinach gives adds niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. No need to peel the skin off the cucumbers before you juice them because then you’ll be missing out on a ton of benefits. Pineapple provides immune support, bone health, Vitamin C and antioxidants. Ginger can help to lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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Green Juice

Course Breakfast, juice, Juicing
Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings 64 ounces

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 green apples
  • 2 peeled cucumbers
  • 1 pear
  • 1 thumb ginger
  • 1/3 pineapple
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 8 oz filtered water
  • tiny piece of serrano pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop and rinse everything (medium-sized pieces). Place the toughest ingredients at the bottom of the blender and the softest ones up top. Add 12 ounces of filtered water to the Vitamix.

  2. Blend on low for a few seconds and then crank up to the highest setting. The longer you run the blender, the smoother the juice will be. Once everything is smooth, strain until desired texture. I strain mine at least four times. Carrot juice will have a lot more excess pulp than the other recipes. I like to strain my juices until the consistency is silky smooth. This takes about 3-4 passes depending on the ingredients.

Herbs & Supplements

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

If you want to take your cold-fighting arsenal to new heights, I definitely recommend incorporating these herbs and supplements into your prevention methods. None of them taste good, and you will never get used to the taste, but they are effective and will get to work on your immune system quickly and safely. Note: I always make sure not to buy vitamins that contain animal products, sometimes the capsules are made with gelatin so I always watch out for that

Osha Root (bear root) – If you are prone to respiratory infections or coughs, then you need to order Osha Root STAT, you can purchase it here from Amazon. When taken orally, Osha Root has a slight numbing effect so it is the perfect remedy for a sore throat. Osha root also increases blood circulation to the lungs. For this reason, it is of particular interest as a support mechanism for emphysema, pneumonia, asthma, and allergies. Osha root helps clear mucus from the sinuses and lungs by increasing expectoration which relieves congestion and makes breathing easier. Osha root can also help to shorten the length of an existing cold.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Garlic – Garlic can do wayyy more than keep vampires away (forgive my corniness). A study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%. One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo. 

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Vitamin C powder – I’m sure you already know about Vitamin C’s ability to fortify your immune system, so I’m not going to go into too many details about its benefits. I will say that I prefer using a powdered version because you get way more concentration in a small amount and it’s one less pill you have to take. You can mix it into a glass of water or throw it into a strong smoothie to mask the taste. The average Vitamin C tablet only has 500 mg per pill, but this powder has 5,000 mg per tsp.

Oil of Oregano – Oil of Oregano’s antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiseptic, and antiviral properties make it a great combatant against respiratory infections. As with most of the ingredients on this post, oil of oregano also contains antioxidants. It has also been found to kill Staphylococcus bacteria. I take it in tincture form (it’s nasty), but it is also available in capsule form. 

Echinacea – Echinacea is a flowering plant that can be taken in tincture or capsule form. Again, I take the tincture version as I’m not crazy about swallowing a bunch of pills everyday. Echinacea cuts the chances of catching the common cold by 58 percent. It also shortens the duration of the common cold by up to 1.5 days. Regular echinacea consumption can effectively reverse and alleviate various types of inflammation.

Elderberry – Elderberries are the fruit of the flowering plant Sambucus aka Elderflower. In addition to medicine, elderberries are also used for jams, jellies, cakes, and beverages. Elderberries can aid in digestion, improve cardiovascular and respiratory health, boost immunity, and helps to regulate insulin and glucose levels. However, please make sure to purchase elderberries from reputable stores and do not attempt to pick them yourself because the seeds, stems, leaves, and roots contain cyanide-inducing glycosides that can harm you if ingested in large quantities.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

The fruit of the elderberry is a tiny berry, about 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter, and about 50% of the berry is seed. Cooking the berries destroys the glycosides present in the seeds, making the berries with their seeds safe to eat.  As such, the fruit of the Black Elderberry should always be cooked before consumption. See the links at the end of this post for more information. [source]

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Herbal Steam  All you need for this remedy is a saucepan, a towel, and essential oil. For the purpose of strengthening immunity, I recommend peppermint oil and/or rosemary oil.

The scent of rosemary oil has been shown to give relief from throat congestion, and it is also used in the treatment of respiratory allergies, colds, sore throats, and flu. Aside from using rosemary oil in an herbal steam, rosemary has many external uses as well. When massaged into a problem area, rosemary oil can be used to increase circulation, cure headaches, alleviate muscle and joint pain, and soothing indigestion.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Peppermint acts as an expectorant and may provide relief for colds, cough, sinusitis, asthma, and bronchitis but peppermint oil has SO MANY other uses. It can be used in a scalp massage to help stimulate hair growth, as a bug repellant and itch reliever, and because of its cooling properties, it is a great muscle pain/soreness reliever and fever reducer. In addition to using peppermint oil in an herbal steam for congestion relief, you can also mix it with coconut oil and use it as a balm on your chest.

Take about 3 cups of hot water and 15-20 drops each of essential oil.  Cover your head with a towel make sure you close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and make sure to not touch your eyes until you wash your hands. You’ll feel an immediate difference in the quality of your breathing. If your throat is currently very raw, you may want to lessen the amount of drops or use rosemary instead of peppermint. You can try to add a drop or two of peppermint oil gradually unless it’s too harsh on your throat.

Probiotics – If you only glean one thing from this EXTREMELY long post, I hope that it’s this: happy gut, happy life. Probiotics should be a staple in everyone’s self-care routine, but especially for those who have recently transitioned to a vegan diet. I will do a post on this in the future, but you should be going number two everyday…even better if you go pretty soon after every meal. If you do not go at least twice a day and you are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, something is up with your digestive system. Your body cannot function at its prime if it is preoccupied with expelling waste from your body when it should be protecting you from intruders!

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Seventy-percent of our immune defense system lies in our gut. The lining of the small intestines is full of lymph nodes. When necessary, inflammation in the intestines creates a pathway for the immune system to carry out an attack against invading viruses and bacteria. However, when inflammation is present but not needed, illnesses such as allergies, flu and chronic infections can occur.

Tips & Tricks

Sleep

You ever notice how, if you go weeks without turning your phone off for a night or two, it becomes painfully slow and glitchy? Your body works the same way and it cannot function properly if you do not give it enough time to reset. I know it’s cliché but, a good night’s sleep can solve a lot of physical and psychological ailments. Staying away from and long nights and alcohol late at night during the colder, transition months will decrease your chances of waking up with a scratchy throat. A full night’s rest also gives your organs enough time to cleanse and reset themselves (happy gut, happy life).

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Exercise

Like the Vitamin C recommendation, I’m sure you don’t need to be told that exercise can help to optimize your body and keep you from catching a cold. Anytime you encourage an increase in blood flow, you are recharging your cells and organs so that they can properly perform. 

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Neti Pot

My Aunt introduced me to this little gadget and I like to use it once a week or so while in the shower; I purchased mine from Target (less than 20 bucks). It’s basically a nasal flushing system that uses warm water and salt to clear your nasal pathways. Each box comes with 50 premixed packets of USP grade sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate mixture.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

For the best results you should only use filtered, distilled, or cooled, boiled tap water…but I’ll admit that sometimes I just fill up the pot straight from the shower head. Once you mix the water and packet together, you place the tip of the pot into one nostril and then tilt your head so that the water drains out of the other nostril. Repeat for the other side.

Do not rinse if nasal passages are completely blocked or if you have an ear infection or blocked ears. If you have had recent ear or sinus surgery, contact your physician prior to irrigation. If you experience any pressure in the ears or burning in the nasal passages, stop irrigation and get further directions from your physician.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

lol

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Touching public doorknobs, pens, card keypads, etc. in the winter can feel like you’re dodging landmines, especially when people insist on not covering their mouths when they cough. Commercial hand sanitizers are pretty toxic and can do more harm than good. Fortunately, you can make your own. I did a post on how to make your own non-toxic hand sanitizer that can be found here.

how to not get sick and boost your immunity

Conclusion

A few years ago, boosting my immune system consisted of popping extra Vitamin C pills once the temperature dropped and thats about it. Not a bad stepping stone, but you have to support your immune system year-round and diversifying your arsenal is key.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you can see the correlation with the foods/drinks that can help boost your immunity are the same things you can consume to improve your overall health whether you are trying to prevent a cold or just take care of your body. Please let me know if you have any home remedies or suggestions that you swear by to keep colds at bay or at least kick them out of your body earlier in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!

You can watch my video on How to Not Get Sick below:

Recommended

Soy-Free Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup

Jackfruit Tortilla Soup

Juicing with a Vitamix

 

Sources

Turmeric benefits here

Lemon Water benefits here

Apple Cider Vinegar benefits here and here

Matcha Latte benefits here

Vitamin A benefits here

Carrot benefits here

Osha Root benefits here

Echinacea benefits here

Elderberry benefits here Elderberry cautions here

Rosemary Oil benefits here

Peppermint Oil benefits here and here. All natural Lung Cleansing Spray here

How do Probiotics help your immune system?

Neti Pot benefits here

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