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As I sat down to share this morning’s post, I immediately thought about our chat a few weeks ago over a warm cup of Soothing Honey and Lemon Sore Throat Tea. Because our chat is so applicable to today’s post about loving your immune system, let’s recap our conversation, then we’ll dive right into some immune-loving strategies…
Eating real food means you will be healthy 100% of the time. The sniffles? No way! Not when you eat real food.
I think that mentality and teaching are a huge fallacy of eating real, organic, farm-to-table, whatever people may want to call it today. Here’s the thing, we all live in a world full of outside environmental factors, so even if we only surround ourselves with organic fruits and veggies, pastured meats, and homemade everything, we are still human and live in a world with fellow humans and many other factors. Every single one of us will eventually catch a case of the sniffles, despite our diet or more natural cleaning products. It’s just part of this amazing experience we call life.
I believe real food has the amazing ability to nourish the body and keep us healthy. This means that even though we may still need a box of tissues from time to time, Illness probably won’t come knocking as much as she used to in the past. I’m sure Illness can also be a man, but let’s go with she for today’s discussion, okay?
I’ve personally found this to be true in my family’s real food journey. The better we eat, the better we feel, and the fewer illnesses we catch and spread. And when Mrs. Sniffles or Mrs. Stomach Bug come knocking, she doesn’t stay for as long as she used to thanks to the nourishment and healing found via real food.
There are six simple strategies or “ways” (including real food) that I use to keep my family’s immune systems well-loved during the cold season. Now, I’m not claiming my family enjoys perfect health since we incorporate these “ways” into our lifestyle when colds abound, but I do believe they provide extra TLC to our hard-working immune systems during a season known for unwelcome guests (yea, I’m thinking about you Mrs. Sniffles).
Six Simple Ways to Love Your Immune System, Naturally
1. Homemade Broth
Technically speaking, broth is made from meat and veggies and stock is made from bones. Homemade broth/stock is rich in immune-loving minerals. Stock (simmered from the bones) also contains cartilage, collagen, and marrow.
I regularly roast a whole chicken for dinner (or use my crock-pot method). After roasting the chicken(s), I place the extra meat in a storage container (to enjoy for lunch or another dinner) and the remaining bones and juices in the crock-pot. I add veggies and water to the bones, and cook the broth on a high setting while we sleep. The most amazing homemade stock/broth awaits in the morning.
You can find my chicken broth recipe here and beef broth here. Vegetable stock can be made by simply omitting the meat and bones from either recipe. I like to use my broth for soups (try this chicken and veggie soup) or drink a cup (or two) when I feel Mrs. Sniffles knocking on “my door.”
2. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is made from elderberries. The berries, when simmered down and the juice is extracted, help to stimulate the immune system. The syrup is rich in immune-loving vitamins A, B, and C.
Elderberry syrup is sold at many health food stores, but the cost is usually very expensive ($15-20 for 4 ounces). Making the syrup at home is very easy and cost-effective. I order berries online once a year and make the syrup throughout the winter months. Dustin and I take 1 tablespoon a day and the kids take 1 teaspoon a day. You can find my recipe here.
I tend to be a very hard working gal. I like to go-go-go until I just don’t have any energy; however, I’m learning this mentality can get me in big trouble!
Rest is vital for maintaining a healthy immune system. Getting proper sleep at night (which I know can be hard…I have two kids!) and carving out time for enjoyable, restful activities is important.
I’ve found writing on my calendar “Turn off the computer and read a book!” helps me remember to rest at night. Setting an alarm as a reminder to go to bed early can also help.
4. Nutrient-Dense Food
I truly believe that food can heal and that eating good nutrient-dense food can keep the immune system happy.
Before we made the switch to real food, I dealt with daily headaches and constant colds. Soon after switching to real food and eliminating the processed ingredients, my headaches and constant colds disappeared.
Nutrient-dense “real food” is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats all of which the body needs to thrive and maintain a healthy immune system.
Eating a diet rich in variety and real ingredients is important to my family! Sticking with fruits and veggies that are in season is a great way to get nutrients.
Here are a few of the nutrient-dense foods I like to include in our diet: fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, milk kefir, yogurt), berries (I add frozen berries to our smoothies), good fats (butter, coconut oil), grass-fed beef and pastured chicken (remember to save the bones!), fresh herbs and garlic, and leafy greens (sautéed, added to a smoothies, added to soups, or prepared in a simple salad). Want to take a peek into my family’s daily real food lifestyle, and see how these foods fit into our every day? I would love to show you!
Probiotics are a natural part of a nutrient-dense diet. Probiotics are naturally found in fermented and cultured foods. The good bacteria in these foods make for a happy gut, and a happy gut means a happy immune system which can easily fight the bad guys.
Throughout the winter I make sure my family eats/drinks daily probiotics. This can be done by consuming probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as: sauerkraut (I like Bubbies brand), milk kefir, yogurt (go for plain with “active cultures” when purchasing at the store), kombucha, pickles (I like Bubbies brand), miso, and kimchi. Simply adding yogurt to a daily smoothie (try this one) is an easy way to get probiotics in a nutrient-dense diet.
6. Soothing Honey and Lemon Sore Throat Tea
At the first signs of a cold, I turn to a simple homemade tea recipe made with 100% natural, real food ingredients: honey, lemon, ginger, and mineral-rich salt. This tea, Soothing Honey and Lemon Sore Throat Tea, is soothing (thanks to the honey), boasts a healthy amount of Vitamin C (thanks to the lemon), helps relieve a sore throat (thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties, gingerols and shogaols, in ginger), and provides a touch of beneficial minerals to a tired body (hey, salt!). Pretty impressive for a cup of tea that costs about a buck (or much less depending on your ingredient prices) per cup and takes only 5 minutes to make. That’s my kind of natural remedy: simple and fast!
While this tea may be labeled sore throat tea, it can also be enjoyed as an immune-loving early morning drink (alongside coffee ;)), or just as an afternoon pick-me-up. No sore throat required!
Finally, can I add one more? I know, technically this adds a number seven to the list. One more? So, secret number seven…
I’m not a big fan of hand sanitizer due to the ingredients, but I’m a firm believer in washing hands, especially since I have young kids (dirty fingers and the mouth were made for each other, right?!) . During the cold season, I carry around a small tube of homemade hand sanitizer that comes in handy after a trip to the store (those cart handles!!).
So tell me, friend, do you have any special ways you love on your body (and immune system) during this season. I’m sure together we can create a list that’s much longer than six, I mean seven.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #LIVESIMPLYBLOG. I'd love to see what you make!