3 Tips For A Healthy Immune System

We have been conditioned by society and advertisements to expect that we should get a flu shot every year…yet every year, regardless of whether one has gotten the vaccine or not, there always seems to be an outbreak of the flu. Why?

We have been conditioned by society and advertisements to expect that we should get a flu shot every year…yet every year, regardless of whether one has gotten the vaccine or not, there always seems to be an outbreak of the flu. Why?

Have you gotten your flu vaccine?

This is a question I hear A LOT. One that is generally equated with a healthy immune system. When I’m shopping at the supermarket or taking a spin class, even at networking events…I often over hear people talking about their health and the flu shot and whispering how they can’t afford to get sick this winter.

We have been conditioned by society and advertisements to expect that we should get a flu shot every year…yet every year, regardless of whether one has gotten the vaccine or not, there always seems to be an outbreak of the flu. Why?

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “how well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season…and its effectiveness can also vary depending on the person being vaccinated.” (source: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm)

I am not here to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t get a vaccine. What you believe is personal. Getting a vaccine is an individual decision and one that you should feel good about making, for yourself.

Regardless of whether you choose to get vaccinated or not, there are things you can do to stay healthy this winter (and all year long) and it all starts with your gut.

Did you know that approximately 70-80% of your immune system lies in your gut? Our immune system offers different levels of defense against foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. One of the reasons why the gut plays such an important role is that there are over 100 trillion bacteria (both good and bad bacteria) that line our intestinal tract and its balance is important to our overall health.

You probably don’t think about your gut as the ‘brains’ to your body, but here is where you can make a huge difference in your body and have a healthy immune system  all winter (hopefully without needing a flu shot).

I can go on about how you should avoid sugar, processed food and alcohol (just to note, I do believe that you should eliminate or at least minimize these items because they do compromise your immune system and your health), but for the purpose of this article, I want to focus specifically on finding other ways to strengthen your immune system so you stay healthy this winter.

  1. Drink ginger/turmeric tea.

Benefits of Turmeric

  • Reduces chronic inflammation and pain
  • The antioxidant property attributed to turmeric’s most active component, Curcumin, helps fight against free radicals and strengthens immune system
  • Lowers blood glucose levels, decreasing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Improves oxygen intake into the brain, improving memory function
  • Helps relieve indigestion
  • And more…

Benefits of Ginger:

  • Strengthens immune system due to high levels of antioxidants
  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves nausea
  • Helps relieve congestion associated with the common cold
  • Improves blood circulation

Turmeric and ginger together pack a powerful punch. Here’s a great recipe for homemade tea that you can make (and save money):

4 cups water
1 tsp organic turmeric powder (or a 3-4 inch strip fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated)
1 tsp organic ginger powder (or a 3-4-inch strip fresh ginger root, peeled and grated)
Honey to taste

Put water in a pot and bring to a boil on the stove. Add turmeric and ginger to the boiling water and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and strain the tea into a glass container through a fine-mesh strainer. Add honey to taste (can also add lemon). Drink hot or cold.

  1. Take a good probiotic OR eat fermented foods.

Probiotics are live microbial bacteria and yeasts that improve your intestinal microbial balance, thereby keeping your immune system healthy. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes disease but our bodies are full of both the good and the bad variety (as mentioned earlier) and probiotics are the ‘good’ ones. You can choose a high quality probiotic or get them from eating fermented foods.

If you choose to supplement with a probiotic, look for a refrigerated probiotic that has at least 10 strains (including many in the Lactobaccilus and Biffidobacterium family) with billions of organisms.

The best way to get probiotics is by eating fermented foods such as a good organic cultured plain yogurt*, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, raw organic cheese and pickles. (*Don’t be fooled by ads telling you that certain yogurts have probiotics to keep you healthy and help you lose weight. Those same yogurts also have chemicals and sugars in them that negate the probiotics that they add! )

  1. Get a good night’s sleep.

While it is important to feed our bodies properly, it is equally as important to get a good night’s sleep. It is important in the healing and repair of your digestive system, heart and blood vessels and more. Research shows that getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night increases levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker that is associated with a higher risk of disease. Sleep helps maintain a healthy weight, lowers levels of stress, and improves your immune system.

A simple strategy to get a good night’s sleep is to turn off all electronic devices an hour before you go to bed. While lying in bed, close your eyes and start taking deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four and breathe out through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat five times and you’ll be ready for a good night’s rest.

By combining these tips, you will be well on your way to supporting a healthy immune system this winter and all year long.

If you know anyone who can benefit from this information, feel free to share on Twitter and Facebook.

If you’d like to join my private FB group, click here. You can also sign up for my free newsletter. I look forward to connecting with you.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I have accepted that I cannot control everything and I am still working on accepting that the universe has a bigger goal in store for me.

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I have learned to appreciate the little things…a text from my kids that just say ‘I love you’ and I am still working on being present each day to enjoy what I have right in front of me.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

My kids are by far my most rewarding achievements; they make me most proud to be their mother.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

An imperfection that I have is still having trouble asking for help!

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”


I love my relationship that I have with my kids!

About the author

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Sharon Holand Gelfand

A member of the American College of Nutrition, Sharon Holand Gelfand is a board certified nutrition consultant, lifestyle designer, motivational speaker and author whose mission is to empower women with the tools they need to live healthier, richer, spiritual lives. She’s passionate about helping them create a personal blueprint for success so that they can enjoy more balance and more freedom every day—without the constraints of traditional dieting.

Sharon’s unique perspective on nutrition is infused with real-life insight based on her own experiences managing her son’s Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Ileitis, all part of Irritable Bowl Disease, an autoimmune disorder. It was only when dealing with her son’s condition that Sharon realized she had her own set of health issues which she had always ignored—hypoglycemia from constant dieting, chronic migraine headaches, anemia, strep, eye inflammation and chronic aches and pains in her neck. But by choosing healthier lifestyle options, she was able to not only help herself, but clear up her son’s chronic inflammation too.

Her philosophy? Eat well, think clearly, and live fully.

You can find out more about Sharon over at www.sharonholand.com