Let’s talk about a few natural, low-cost ways to keep your body and immune system healthy.
I truly believe that when we take the time to nourish our bodies with nutrient-rich food, manage our stress, prioritize sleep, and move our bodies, we feel good and don’t get sick as often because our bodies and immune systems are equipped to handle “attacks.”
I know, this isn’t always easy in the go-go-go culture we live in today, but I believe it’s important. Instead of turning to the newest “superfood” or quick-fix on the market, why not adjust our lifestyle choices so they support our long-term health and well-being?
In our family, I can usually tell when we haven’t been taking care of ourselves because we start to feel sluggish, tired, worn out, and are more susceptible to getting sick.
Now, keep in mind, I’m not a doctor. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a doctor or specialist for specific concerns. I think you know that. What I share here on the blog is based on my own research and what I personally have found to be helpful for myself and my family.
6 Natural Ways to Keep Your Immune System Healthy
1. Consume Homemade Broth/Stock
Homemade broth/stock is rich in immune-loving minerals.
I regularly roast a whole chicken for dinner. After roasting the chicken, I place the extra meat in a storage container (to enjoy for lunch or dinner) and the remaining bones and water in the Instant Pot. In a few hours, the most amazing homemade broth/stock awaits. If I’m short on time, my favorite store-bought options are Kettle and Fire (shelf stable) and Bonafide Provisions (freezer section).
Use broth/stock to make soups (try this chicken and veggie soup), cook rice, or as a nutrient-rich drink (warmed up in a mug).
2. Sleep, Rest, and Decrease Stress
Sleep 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 so important. This also means learning to put your phone down and minimizing the constant need to “be on.” This podcast episode (from Today is the Day Podcast) is a good one about sleep.
One of my favorite weekly activities is a weekly detox bath. This is the perfect time to set my phone aside and relax, even if it’s just a 10 minute bath.
I’ve also been learning to saying “no” to activities that aren’t necessary in life, and I’ve been teaching my kids the importance of resting versus always being on the go. This is part of our family’s self-care practice. Many times, our schedules are too jam-packed to rest. This podcast is a must-listen for rethinking a practical approach to self-care.
3. Enjoy Nutrient-Dense Food
This means avoiding ultra-processed food as much as possible and eating real food. 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. This is also why packing healthy lunches (that aren’t packed full of processed and sugary foods) is so important for kids!
When we feed our body real food, we may still need a box of tissues from time to time, but illness probably won’t come knocking on “our door” as much as it would if we were filling our bodies with nutrient-less, ultra-processed food. Real food gives to the body versus taking away from the body.
As Dr. Mark Hyman recently stated, “In a world with packaged artificial food, filled with chemicals and labels with false gimmicks, it might be surprising that food can act as medicine. But when you choose REAL food you are actually feeding your body medicine; you’re using your kitchen as a farmacy to create great health and prevent disease.”
Learn about what “real food” is here.
4. Consume Fermented Foods
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. Personally, I prefer to get my probiotics from food versus relying on a supplement.
Consuming probiotic-rich, fermented foods can be delicious and easy to do on a daily basis. Here are some fermented foods to try:
- fermented salsa
- sauerkraut (should be found in the refrigerator section)
- kefir (Maple Hill Creamery is my favorite brand)
- yogurt (go for plain, grass-fed yogurt with active cultures)
- kombucha (Health-Ade is my favorite brand)
- fermented carrots
Simply adding yogurt or kefir to a daily smoothie (try this one) is an easy way to get probiotics in your diet.
I highly recommend listening to this podcast episode from season 2 all about fermented foods.
5. Move Your Body
This doesn’t need to be an intense exercise routine. In fact, overexercising actually can cause the body to be in a state of stress, which isn’t good. Instead, opt to simply move. Take a walk around the block, take an online pilates class (I love The Balanced Life), take a kickboxing or Barre class, stretch, or run around with the kids. Movement is a great way to “detox” the body and decrease stress.
6. Wash Your Hands
Getting in the habit of washing hands (we use Dr. Bronner’s) after an outing is a good practice to start at home, particularly with kiddos.
I’m not a big fan of hand sanitizer or over-sanitizing (that’s a huge problem today), but I do carry homemade hand sanitizer or a store-bought option from Dr. Bronner’s during cold season or while traveling.
My Favorite Ways to Support The Immune System When You Feel Run Down
Now, let’s talk about my favorite ways to support the body and immune system when you feel like you’re “catching something” or simply feel run down.
As I mentioned before, rest and sleep are so important. When I feel run down, my first reaction is to make sure I’m getting plenty of rest. This means saying “no” to extra activities, getting to bed earlier, and maybe giving myself an extra few minutes to sleep in the morning instead of waking up extra early. This may also look like drawing a detox bath to rest and “sweat it out” for a few minutes.
I believe it’s also important that we teach our kids to recognize when their bodies need extra rest and to honor this.
There’s a reason why Great-Grandma always made chicken noodle soup when a cold hit the family. It’s because the chicken broth/stock is nutrient-rich and full of the minerals and vitamins the body needs, particularly when fighting off a cold.
Since I’m the head cook in the family (trust me, Dustin and I both agree this is the best thing for our marriage, lol), I usually don’t feel like making chicken noodle soup when I’m sick, so I stick with sipping straight-up chicken broth from a mug. When the kids or Dustin are “under the weather,” this Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup or this Chicken and Vegetable Noodle Soup are my go-to recipes to make.
3. Buried Treasure ACF Supplement
This is a liquid herbal supplement that I swear by when my body feels run down or when a cold is coming on. This supplement tastes AWFUL, but it’s incredibly effective at supporting the immune system. I don’t take this on a daily basis, just when I feel something coming on or have a cold (to reduce the duration). There’s an adult and kid version of ACF. You can find ACF at health food stores, Whole Foods, and online (Amazon, Vitacost).
4. 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 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 of gingerols and shogaols in the 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. While this tea may be labeled sore throat tea, it can also be enjoyed as an early morning drink or an afternoon pick-me-up. No sore throat required!
Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with staying hydrated with lots of water.
More Natural Ways to Protect Against Unwanted Germs
- Homemade Hand Sanitizer Spray: A simple spray for when you need to wash your hands and don’t have soap and water.
- Homemade Hand Sanitizer Gel: Want a gel instead of a spray? This recipe is for you.
- Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System: My tried-and-true ways to naturally maintain a healthy and happy immune system.
- Homemade Elderberry Syrup: A homemade remedy that’s delicious and beneficial.