Winter is here!

Want to know my top 10 tips to boost your immunity and stay well this winter? You're in the right place.....

Humans have more bacterial cells—a lot more—than human cells. Bacteria live on the skin, in the nose and ears, and, most of all, in the gut.

Did you know 70% to 80% of the immune system resides in the gut?

For things to work properly, the immune cells in your gut need to be able to sort through all you ingest and tell the difference between healthy bacteria and unhealthy bacteria (pathogens, toxins) and nutrients – and protect against anything else you don’t want in your body.

Immune function is one of the main jobs of the gut!

Up your intake of immune boosting foods, these include;

Citrus - vitamin C, folate, thiamine and vitamin B6 Ginger - potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C Turmeric - B vitamins, B6, vitamin C, curcumin, beta-carotene, calcium, flavonoids, iron, niacin, potassium, zinc Carrots - vitamin A (from beta-carotene), biotin, vitamin K, potassium and vitamin B6 Garlic - manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium Berries - vitamin A, B9, C, E, K, iron, potassium & magnesium Healthy Fats - avocados, nuts and seeds, good oils like Olive and Macadamia Leafy Greens - fiber, folate, carotenoids, vitamins C and K, iron and calcium

Buy a tongue scrapper - In Ayurveda, this ancient practice helps to stimulate the internal organs, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste and cleanse the body by removing Ama and bacteria from your mouth. First thing in the morning before you even drink water, scrape the build-up of bacteria and toxins off your tongue rather than swallowing them, they accumulate on your tongue while you sleep.

Eat fermented foods daily - These foods feed your gut with healthy bacteria. Eat sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefir, yogurt (not processed), and kombucha. These foods are rich in prebiotics (take caution when adding fermented foods to your diet initially, start slowly and increase amounts).

Eat more soluble fibre - Up your greens intake! This kind of food is your gut bugs food of choice, when not enough fibre is present they will begin to eat your mucosal lining as an alternate nutrition source. Not ideal. The top sources are leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, oat bran, barley, flaxseed, split peas, lima beans and black beans.

Add bone broth or collagen to your diet - As a vego I found this one hard, but there's great unflavoured collagen out there that you can add to drinks, smoothies, breakfasts etc. and your gut, hair, skin and nails will LOVE you for it! Collagen is the vital building block of our bodies including skin, hair, nails, bones and joints, also helping to "heal and seal" your gut lining.

Manage your stress levels - Research shows consistent stress negatively impacts the amount of good diversity in your gut flora, your immune system won't function optimally when your gut bugs are out of balance. Try deep belly breathing or meditation 10 minutes per day.

Ditch the processed foods - Refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods get absorbed quickly into your small intestine without any help from your microbes. That means your gut microbes stay hungry so they begin snacking on the cells that line your intestines, causing what we call Leaky Gut. Your intestinal lining is meant to be a strong barrier between your gut and the rest of your body. When your intestinal wall becomes leaky, particles of food enter your bloodstream, causing your immune system to attack them, and ultimately your own tissues. This leads to inflammation and a whole cascade of conditions, including autoimmunity. Sugar also feeds organisms like Candida Albican, which also attacks your intestinal wall and can lead to a systemic Candida infection.

Drink plenty of filtered water - We don’t need fluoride in our water, it's not the 1940's. Fluoride is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. Unfortunately Fluoride isn't the only toxin making its way into our water supply, so I'd say go with filtered, ALWAYS.

Reduce inflammation - By avoiding excess Omega-6 (soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil) and getting plenty of Omega-3's (walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds). Inflammation can cause weight gain. Weight gain can cause inflammation. There are several ways that inflammation can influence weight, including leptin resistance and insulin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that signals to us that we’re full. When this signal doesn’t register, this can lead to overeating. Insulin resistance causes the body to store more fat. Excess weight causes an overproduction of pro inflammatory cytokines.

Buy Local and Organic - In order to increase your microbe intake, shop at the local farmer’s market or as close to the source as possible. Bacteria is present everywhere. Many fruits and vegetables carry bacteria that help us digest our food. We miss out on these bacteria when we eat non-organic or sprayed produce that’s treated to last longer on supermarket shelves or look shiny. The best way to collect natural bacteria that may be present on the farm is to buy as high up on the food chain as possible. Or, better yet – grow some of your own! Think of it as an external garden for your inner one.

You are aiming to increase diversity and grow your population of bacteria, all of the tips above will help to promote just that! It’s only in recent years that scientists are beginning to discover the vital importance of the link between diet, gut bacteria and the immune system.  

Scientific evidence now shows that the types of food that you eat will directly determine the levels of certain bacteria in your gut. 
Changing your diet will change the kind of bacteria that you have; which will either support the strengthening of your immune system, or deplete its defensive capabilities.

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