By Chris Jones, DC, DNM
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Being sick all the time is no fun.  When we don’t feel good we aren’t as social, we aren’t as productive and I’ll even venture to say we are probably more cranky at home and work.  This is no way to live. I believe we all have the desire to feel optimal, but how? I’m so glad you asked.

One of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments of my life was when I learned about epigenetics.  It’s a fascinating area of study in biology. It supports the idea that taking positive steps to boost our immune system really will keep us well.  It also explains how things like stress and fast food lead to health consequences.

Epigenetics is the study of how external and environmental factors turn our genes on or off.  That’s really encouraging! Especially in contrast to the old school model of genetic determinism- which says we’re victims of the genes we’re dealt and can’t change them.

Epigenetics is refreshing and hopeful!  It proves that when we do, say, and eat the right things this ultimately has a good impact on our health.  Take more positive, healthy steps and you’ll reap the benefits of improved health and less sickness. Which leads me to the topic of this post…5 ways to naturally boost your immune system this winter.

  1. SLEEP

Our children aren’t getting the sleep they need.  Kids need between 10-14 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.  Adults, should get at least 7 but really closer to 8 is best. Sleep is when our body and mind heals and repairs.  The type of sleep is what really matters so make sure it’s a dark quiet room with no electronics.

  1. Promote Calm.  Decrease Stress and Anxiety

In this fast paced world we are over scheduled and it’s the kids and parents that suffer here.  Stress raises cortisol. This is a natural response in the body. Unfortunately long term, chronic stress has been shown to weaken our immune system in both kids and adults.

Kids and adults need time to wind down, time to play or relax.  If you feel like your family is burning the candle at both ends it may be time to eliminate an activity.

  1. Substitute Fruit In Place of Sugar

Sugar has been proven to compromise our gut by crowding out the beneficial probiotic bacteria and actually feeding the pathogenic ones.  Pathogenic bacteria love sugar. The less we feed ‘the bad guys’ the stronger our immune system will be. Substitute fruit which is high in immune boosting antioxidants like vitamin C.  

  1. Give Your Gut What It Needs…Probiotics

You can certainly get probiotics through fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles or even unsweetened plant-based yogurts (coconut or almond).  Goat kefir is another great source of probiotics and if your kids don’t like it, hide it in a smoothie.  If you or your kids don’t like any of these foods then I absolutely recommend supplementing with a high quality, broad spectrum probiotic.  Start with lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains containing between 5-20 billion CFU’s. Start on the lower end for younger children.

  1. Food Matters.  Practice 80/20 Rule.

I tell all my clients that food either takes us closer to health or closer to dis-ease.  I can’t count how many times I’ve started working with someone who was in a bad state of health, on multiple meds, constantly sick and eating fast food for the majority of their meals.  Then, after getting them off inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy and processed sugary foods they did a complete 180. Their doctor was able to reduce/eliminate meds, they didn’t stay sick anymore and they lived a happier, healthier life.

It’s not about perfection.  80/20 is a good rule to live by.  Make 80% of your food choices healthy one.  Limit sugar, preservatives, food additives, gluten and dairy.  These are shown in the research to promote inflammation and suppress our immune system.  Focus on plenty of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds eggs and meats.

If you'd like to learn more about your state of health please check out our free wellness evaluation.  We offer in person, phone as well as webcam consults to people across the globe.

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