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Filtering by Tag: immune system

In Defense of Dirt

Janis Covey

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Summer is here! It’s time to get outdoors (preferably barefoot) and let those kids get dirty!  Yes, you heard me right...DIRTY.

Why you ask?  Because dirt is good for you.  Exposing our bodies to bacteria, viruses and fungus help the body build a strong immune system.  We as a society have been groomed to sterilize everything and keep our children from getting dirty.  Petting zoos requires anti-bacterial wipes, wash your hands as soon as you touch that dog, getting dirty in the backyard requires an immediate bath.  This is all wrong! By not exposing our children to germs in our environment, we are setting them up for allergies, asthma and even eczema.

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The purpose of our immune system is to fight foreign “threats” such as bacteria and viruses and create a long acting defense against these “threats”.  When we don’t expose ourselves to “threats” then our immune system gets bored and starts to react to “non-threats” such as pollen and foods. This leads to the development of allergies and asthma.

There was a study done by American Academy of Pediatrics in May of 2013 showing that parents who lick their children’s pacifiers to clean them were less likely to develop asthma, allergies and eczema then parents who did not do use this cleaning method.  The children whose parents licked the pacifier had stronger immune systems overall.

Pacifier Cleaning Practices and Risk of Allergy Development

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So what does this all mean?  For me, I don’t freak out when my kids eat a snack without washing their hands first, we never use anti-bacterial products (I like Kosmatology’s MADE SAFE Certified Foaming Hand Soap for clean up)  and I embrace the dirty. I let my kids run outside barefoot in the dirt, if a dog licks my daughter’s face I don’t feel the need to immediately disinfect her. I hope these actions will help them develop strong immune systems ready to take on the bacterial and viral world but not non-threatening pollen and foods!

Elderberries: The Natural Cold and Flu Fighter

Janis Covey

Elderberries are your immune system’s best friend!  They contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system a lean, mean disease fighting machine. 

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Elderberries are rich in both vitamins A and C which are vital to the immune system’s function. Vitamin C is required for phagocytes and t-cells to preform their disease-fighting tasks. Vitamin A is an immune enhancer that increases the power of the antibody response. It also maintains and restores the integrity and function of all mucosal surfaces including the digestive tract. 

Elderberries also contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins which are a subgroup of bioflavanoids.  Anthocyanidins are are known to have immunostimulant effects. 

Elderberry Syrup:  A daily dose can assist you in keeping your immune system healthy and help prevent illness. 

2/3 cup dried black elderberries (about 3 ounces)
3 1/2 cups of water
2 Tablespoons of ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cup raw honey (local is best since it can also help with seasonal allergies).  If you would like to keep the recipe vegan or are going to be giving to children under 2 you can substitute Maple Syrup.

 

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  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. 
  3. Remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled.  Pour through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a bowl.  Then wring out the elderberries wrapped in the cheesecloth. 
  4. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey or sweetener of your choice and stir well.
  5. When well mixed, pour the syrup into a quart sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  6. The finished syrup will last refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. 


Dosage:

  1. Prevention: 

Adults: 1 tsp one to two times a day

Children: 1/2 tsp once a day

  1. Treament:

Adults: 3 tsp up to 4 times a day 

Children: About half of the adult dose (always check with Pediatrician before starting a new treatment)

References:

Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections

Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

 

Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Janis Covey

With Cold and Flu season upon us, now is a great time to give your immune system a natural boost.  Here are some simple ways to naturally boost your immune system.

 

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1.       Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerhouse!  It is a potent anti-oxidant.   It boosts the immune system by supporting important cell-mediated immune responses and enhancing lymphocytes, natural killer cells and antibody production.  The best way to get your vitamin C is from whole food sources such as citrus fruits, red bell peppers and strawberries. 

2.      Get your Zzz’s:  Lack of sufficient sleep suppresses the immune system.  The more sleep deprived you are the more likely you are to get sick.  Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  School aged children (6-13 years) need 9-11 and Teens (14-17) need 8-10 hours per night.

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3.      Wash Your Hands:  There are numerous studies showing that frequent hand washing reduces the spread of germs and your chances of getting sick.  Although, DO NOT wash your hands with soaps containing anti-bacterial agents such as triclosan.  The FDA has ruled that there is no additional illness protection using products containing anti-bacterial agents versus washing with plain old soap and water.

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4.      Drink Plenty of Fluids Mainly Water:  Staying hydrated is so important for overall health especially immune function.  Water keeps all the body’s systems working at their optimal level.  Drinking plenty of water flushes out toxins and keeps proper blood volume allowing the proper amount of oxygen to be carried to cells and help them function properly.  Water also is vital in the production of lymph.  Lymph is what the immune system uses to move White Blood Cells and other immune cells throughout the body to fight disease.