Your immune system is commonly known as your body’s first line of defense against infections, however this is only partially true. While we are used to hearing and talking about our immune xtsystem during “Flu Season,” our immune system is constantly working to protect us, year round, and it all starts in our Gut. There are some commonly known ways to boost your immune system, including supplementing Vitamin C, however this is only sufficient if your gut is healthy and functioning properly. Gut Health is starting to become an marketing tool to get people to buy more fermented products, which is fine, but throwing a bunch of Sauerkraut or Kimchi on your plate won’t necessarily fix the issues you are having in your gut. Here are some things to take into account to set yourself up with a healthy gut and strong immune system:
Nutrition: Are you eating a diet consisting of mostly whole and unprocessed foods? If you are not sure what that means, ask yourself these questions:
Did this food come from the earth?
Is this food altered in any way?
Does this food have a label?
Could I make this food in my own garden/kitchen?
This is a great way to determine whether or not the foods you are eating are processed. Generally, we want to aim for a diet consisting mostly of whole, unprocessed foods first, and then we can enjoy the added things only when we are proficient in building strong meals without them.
So you’ve made the switch to whole foods, now take a look at how many of those foods that you’re eating in a day count as a vegetable. Are you eating 200g+ (about 2 cups) of veggies throughout the day? That is the bare minimum. If you aren’t, this is a great place to go next! Aim for 200-300g of veggies to start, and see how close you can get every day for a week. Then push it to 2 weeks, and then 3. When you can consistently get 200-300g of carbs daily, we can look at supplements.
Once you’ve made the switch to whole foods, and you’re crushing the veggie game, you can start looking at your supplementation game. Well, really you can start looking at taking a Probiotic. Probiotics are incredibly important to keep your gut happy and healthy, but it will really only help once you’ve got your nutrition in check. Look for a Probiotic with CCFUs in the billions, and something that has live active cultures. These are two important factors when choosing a probiotic.
Sleep: Are you sleeping 7-9 hours each night? Sleep is incredibly important for hormone health, which in turn affects gut health (everything is connected, if you didn’t get that by now). Without the proper amount of sleep, your body is unable to make the necessary repairs needed to keep your functions working smoothly. You might notice brain fog, irritability, and even anxiety. These are all signs that you may not be sleeping enough. Are you sleeping WELL throughout the night? Not only is the amount of sleep important, but so is the quality of the sleep you’re getting. Are you going to bed right after eating a huge meal? That’s an added stress on your body right when it should be winding down and preparing to rest. Are you on your computer or your phone right up until you go to bed? Even worse- are you on your computer or phone IN BED?! The blue light emitted from these little devices impacts our cortisol levels, and stimulated higher brain function, which is not necessarily ideal when you’re getting ready for bed. Even if you use Blue Light Blocking glasses (which I still highly recommend), the content on your screen can act as its own stressor, which we also want to avoid pre-bed. Activity Levels: Are you active throughout the day? I don’t just mean your hour-long workout that you complete either at the beginning or end of your day. I’m talking throughout the day- how often do you get up and take a walk? We refer to this as your NEAT (check out this post about NEAT for more info), and your NEAT contributes to your gut health and immune system function just as much as Nutrition and Sleep. If you are going really hard for that one hour in the gym, but then the rest of the day you are a potato sitting at a desk, and then you go home and sit on your couch, you are lacking the necessary movement to keep your body healthy and happy. Instead of waiting for Flu season and reaching for the antibiotics, take a look now (while the weather is warm and its sunny and we all love being outside) and see which of these categories needs some extra TLC for you.
Not sure where to start?
Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and set up a free 30min consult call so I can help you get started!