How often do you get sick?
a) Is it 2-3 times a year?
b) Every month?
c) Whenever someone around you is sick?
If you answer anything more than once a year, you are definitely NOT alone…
… but even though it is common to get sick often,
it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is normal.
Even though we commonly refer to winter as the cold & flu season, there is NO season for getting sick! Colder weather is NOT what makes you sick. A weak immune system is the problem.
Listen to your body!
Getting sick too often is a sign that your immune system is weak.
Here are 15 things you can do to avoid getting sick this next year.
I know 15 are a lot, but start with the ones that are easier for you to implement and keep adding until you feel like your immune system is strong enough to protect you.
Stop weakening your immune system
If you’re sick of getting sick all the time, the first thing to do is to stop overloading your body with toxins, like sugar, that weaken your immune system.
Reducing your toxin load will help decrease the burden your liver, immune system and whole body are under on a daily basis so it can start focusing on what really matters to keep you healthy and make you feel better than ever.
1. Slow with the sugar to speed up your immune system!
Anytime you eat sugar, it slows down your immune system by 50% within 10 minutes and for up to 5 hours.
Imagine if you have orange juice for breakfast, then a bit more in your yogurt and/or muffin for your afternoon snack and then a bit more in a treat like ice cream or cookies after dinner…. Your immune system will be working at only half capacity for most of the day!
Take a closer look at the food you eat and try to eliminate sugar wherever you can.
I know it’s easier said than done but remember that small changes can go a long way.
Keep in mind that studies show that sugar can be MORE addictive than cocaine so it is normal to experience sugar cravings and other unpleasant side effects when first giving it up. Stay strong, it gets easier with time, especially as you reap all the health benefits that goes with detoxing from it.
2. Ditch processed foods
Most foods that come in a package contain ingredients that can dampen your immune system.
Try avoiding ingredients like grains, flours, corn, soy, sugar, vegetable oils (canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil…) or any impossible-to-pronounce ingredients with more than 4-5 syllables.
If you can’t pronounce it, chances are your body won’t know what to do with it…. As it tries to figure it out, your body will waste valuable energy and resources trying to dispose of it or store it in your body instead of being ready to fight invading virus and bacteria.
And you don’t have to say goodbye to all of your favorite foods!
Here are a few simple tips to make the transition easier:
- replace your pasta with kelp noodles or making zoodles (zucchini noodles),
- use coconut flour and banana to make healthier grain-free and sugar-free muffins (recipe here),
- try cassava flour as a grain-free alternative to make pizza dough and cookies,
- substitute your cooking fats with extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and grass-fed butter, and
- stock up on some of my favorite 15 healthy and tasty snacks.
3. Avoid the dirty dozen
Many of the foods we eat unfortunately contain a lot of pesticide residues and other chemicals used in conventional agriculture. Most people are exposed to 10-12 different pesticides EVERY SINGLE DAY!
One of the best ways to decrease the toxic burden our poor immune system is under is by choosing organic (organic means free of GMO and free of chemicals). If eating organic all the time isn’t possible for you, avoiding the dirty dozen alone will reduce your exposure to these dangerous chemicals by 80%.
Here is the dirty dozen list:
- sweet bell peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- snap peas (imported)
- potatoes (not sweet potatoes)
- hot peppers
- collard greens
Remember that you should NOT avoid nutritious vegetables and fruits. Simply make sure you choose organic for any of the foods in the dirty dozen list or any of the non-organic vegetables and fruits that are not on the dirty dozen list (buying organic all the time is of course ideal to protect your health and the environment).
Strengthen your immune system
Avoiding weakening your immune system is one part of the equation but if you’re really serious about not getting sick as often in the next year, you also need to work on strengthening it.
It’s just like your budget. Taking a closer look at your expenses should help you keep your bank account healthier but there is no doubt that maximizing your income at the same time will give you the best results.
4. Start with your gut health
Ever heard that health starts in the gut? Well, it’s SOOOOOO true!
In fact, 70-80% of your immune system is located in your gut.
Making sure you have a smooth digestion will ensure that your body can properly absorb and utilize the nutrients your immune system and whole body needs while keeping the inflammation low and making sure your immune system is kept in check.
I could spend all day writing about how to improve your digestive health (and that’s why I wrote a book about it!), but the easiest thing you can do right now is to introduce some gut-friendly bacteria in the form of fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha…) or probiotic supplements.
Daily. You’ll feel the difference!
5. Vitamin A, NOT beta-carotene!
Vitamin A is a really important nutrient that is often missing in our diet.
Unfortunately, many people think they can rely on beta-carotene from carrots to get enough vitamin A… Although it is true that you can convert beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), only a very tiny amounts can be converted into vitamin A which is the nutrient your body needs the most.
Especially your gut and immune system.
Get liver from grass-fed meat, grass-fed butter and ghee and egg yolks, but also in an even more concentrated dose in liver from organic / pastured animals (read more about liver and how I eat it here) and extra-virgin cod liver oil.
6. Don’t be deficient in vitamin D!
This one is also super important vitamin for your immune system but almost impossible to get from food alone.
Fortunately, we can synthesize it in our skin after being exposed to the warm rays of the sun but this process happens ONLY IF your skin is exposed to the sun (no clothing or sunscreen), ONLY IF you have a relatively fair skin and ONLY IF you don’t live at a latitude where the sun isn’t strong enough for half of the year.
The best way to ensure you don’t have a vitamin D deficiency is to get tested and to supplement. Don’t supplement too much without knowing were your blood levels are at. Too much is not better than too little. What you want is to have just the right amount so your immune system works optimally to keep you from getting sick.
7. Get your vitamin C and antioxidants daily
Vitamin C is also really important for your immune system.
Eat vitamin C-rich foods every day and supplement with extra vitamin C (1,000-2,000 mg) whenever you feel like your immune system needs a little boost.
Here’s a list of vitamin C-rich foods (eat one a day!):
- Citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit)
- Bell pepper
- Brussels sprouts
8. Protein are the building blocks
You need protein to build antibodies and many other important key molecules part of your immune system. I recommend aiming for at least 15-30 g of protein for breakfast and 25-30 g for lunch and dinner, which can be as simple as adding:
- 2-3 eggs or a scoop of protein powder to your breakfast, and
- 3-6 oz of wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry or pork to your lunch and dinner.
9. Homemade bone broth
Ok this might sound weird to some of you if you never read any of my stuff before.
But yes, I do believe that bone broth is MAGICAL!
Not only is bone broth AMAAAAAAAZING for your gut and skin, but its easy-to-absorb minerals can help support your immune system and whole body.
Don’t run to the grocery store to get bone broth instead of making your own though… commercial bone broth is completely FAKE and doesn’t contain any of the goodness traditionally prepared bone broth provides.
10. Sleep more and stress less
This one should probably be at the very top of this list but I was afraid you would stop reading if I did that.
The common sense advice of prioritizing sleep and better managing stress have been proven times and times again to make a HUGE difference. After all, don’t you recall getting sick after not getting as much sleep as usual or a stressful time in your life at some point? More than once, right?
But I completely get it that you sometimes have too much to do to go to bed by 10pm. Or that you only have a couple of hours to yourself during the whole day after the kids go to bed. Or that you need some time to wind down and catch up with your favorite Netflix series.
It sucked to be told to go to bed when you were a kid.
And it still sucks today as an adult.
But you know what sucks even more?
Being sick a few weeks every week.
And spending the rest of the time not functioning as optimally as you could.
So be a grown-up and go to bed by 10pm tonight. It will get easier and you will learn to borrow time from elsewhere in your day. It is so worth it. YOU are so worth it!
A good night sleep is the best place to start to manage your stress too, but you can also look into:
- spending time with loved ones,
- listening to music,
- going outside,
- learning to say no,
- take an Epsom salt bath (added benefit of supporting your immunity),
- end (or at least minimize) toxic relationships,
- batch cook earlier in the week so dinner is ready when you get home,
- doing some yoga or
- getting an adult coloring book.
Prepare to fight
If you start feeling under the weather, add the following 5 strategies to your daily routine to prepare your troops for the battle and get a get out of jail free card this time.
11. Supplement wisely with zinc
Zinc is a very important mineral and studies show that it can shorten the duration of a cold IF you take it at its onset.
You can either treat yourself to a serving of oysters (the world’s best food source of zinc) or supplement with 10-20 mg of zinc (try these lozenges) every 4-6 hours during the day for 3-7 days (reference).
12. Use Mother Nature’s antimicrobials
Garlic, honey and lemon are 3 strong antimicrobials that can assist your immune system and help you fight any bugs invading your body. Here’s how to take them in all at once!
Here’s my Radicata Cold-Fighting Tea:
- 2 cups of boiling filtered water
- 2-3 of minced organic garlic
- 1/2-1 organic lemon juice
- 1/2-1 tsp of raw honey
Preparation: Add the boiling water over the minced garlic. Let infuse for 5-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and honey. Stir and drink 2-3 times a day!
It actually tastes a lot better than it sounds and it usually helps me feel better right away! (maybe a placebo effect, but I’ll take it!)
13. Add a dose of coconut to the rescue
Coconut contains two very special fats called lauric acid and monolaurin which have been shown to have antimicrobial activity. You can use coconut oil to cook your food, use coconut milk (this one is free of guar gum and in a BPA-free can) to make your smoothie or indulge in a spoonful of coconut oil or coconut butter.
14. Get more tiny soldiers on your side with extra probiotics
We already talked about the importance of gut health to strengthen your immune system. Taking an extra dose when you’re feeling under the weather can help boost your immunity and put all chances on your side so you can get rid of the invading bug ASAP.
Both fermented foods or probiotic supplements work so use what you have on hand (and make sure you always have some on hand just in case!). This one and this one are shelf-stable and make great options to keep at home, in your purse or at the office.
If you buy ready-to-eat fermented food like sauerkraut, make sure it is NOT pasteurized. If it is, it means that all the beneficial bacteria your body needs are dead and you won’t get the immune boosting effect you’re after.
15. Rest and sleep some more!
That advice again?
YES! There is no way to get around this.
Your body needs all the energy it needs to prepare for battle.
Sleep and rest are what you need if you don’t want to get sick.
Listen to your body.
Your to-do list will still be there tomorrow.
Taking a bit of time to ensure your body has all the strength and energy it needs to fight is better than getting really sick and dragging it for days or even weeks.
Grab your free checklist!
Grab YOUR checklist with the 15 strategies to boost your immune system
as a pdf to print out and keep with you at all times.
p.s. What do you think?
When is the last time you got sick? How many of the things listed here are you doing?
Let me know in the comments below!