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Thoughtful Thursday…5 natural ways to improve your immune system and stay healthy this flu season


Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

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When we talk about the immune system let’s keep in mind how important the gut is. In fact, three-quarters of our immune system lies within the digestive tract. When we have digestive issues “...such as constipation, diarrhea, or malabsorption, these can affect the ability to break down and absorb nutrients from food, leaving our body without adequate fuel to carry out functions such as producing hormones, building and repairing muscles, fighting off sicknesses, and much more."

So to be clear, what foods and beverages we put into our guts are going to impact how we feel and our ability to fight off sickness. Translation - it is important to eat nutritiously if we want to be healthy this flu season (and beyond). With that said let’s get to some cool tips and things to have on-hand to help with being proactive in protecting your health.

Tip #1.) Improve Lymph Flow

The lymphatic system is the first line of defense against disease. It helps rid the body of toxins and waste. The lymph fluid in the lymphatic system contains a large number of lymphocytes, white cells that fight infection, and critical for strong immunity. We can improve lymph flow by:

  • Qigong Shaking (fast forward to 1:47). This one I do every morning as part of my Morning Ritual that I learned from training with the SEALS. It is bouncing up and down on your toes while moving your arms. It may seem silly but it works! Similarly a vibration plate or trampoline would have similar lymph flow boosting effects.

  • Move and stretch a little. This will help to brake up lymph and get nodes to drain.

  • Eat vegetables and fruits. Mucous-forming foods clog the lymph like meat, cheese, and eggs. So be careful with that as well as beans and lentils and of course, leave processed foods alone (things in a box or can).

  • Dry brushing - Do this before you shower. It gets circulation going and removes dead skin cells with toxins that clog the lymph.

Tip #2.) Thieves Essential Oil

This is a must-have for your medicine cabinet. I’ve been diffusing this essential oil in my home. You could also mix with a carrier oil such as argan or coconut oil. A good brand to look for is Young Living. This essential oil blend has been shown to fight off infections and support not just the immune system, but also the digestive system and respiratory system. Benefits include:

  • Kills airborne bacteria.

  • Enhances the activity of white blood cells.

  • Increases lymphatic fluid circulation.

Tip #3.) Echinacea

You may be familiar with this one. This study shows that echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by over half. It also has been shown in research to relieve upper respiratory symptoms such as inflammation and whooping cough. Benefits include:

  • Activates macrophages (large white blood cells that are an important part of the immune system), making it especially effective against respiratory infections.

  • Stimulates natural immunological responses.

  • Can reduce duration of the cold by 1.5 days.

Tip #4.) Zinc

Similar to Echinacea, zinc can reduce the duration of a cold. Effecatious form is zinc acetate form which you can get from Life Extension. With the very first sign of a cold, dissolve lozenge fully on the tongue and then repeat every 2-3 hours. Benefits include:

  • Modulates cell-mediated immunity.

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

  • Most effective when used at the first sign of sickness.

  • Zinc acetate lozenges are best.

Tip #5.) Oil of Oregano

I personally use this if I’m starting to feel sick or if I’ve been around sick people, on planes, or at work. This is one to pay attention to as far as what type you use as it is very potent and can burn tissue if not using a diluted form. The one I use, Kion Oregano is Mediterranean Oregano Oil with high carvacrol levels. It can support your immune system all year long. You can add a few drops to a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam for sinus relief. Benefits include:

  • Antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-bactrial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory.

  • Effective against airborne pathogens, Candida, Staph, Strep, E. Coli and Pseudomonas.

  • Phenols in the oil act as steroid-like compounds for the immune system.

As promised, here are some bonus tips to help you stay healthy and happy this flu season.

Bonus Tips

  • Colostrum - Use during cold and flu season. Brands to look for include Kion Colostrum and Mt. Capra

  • May restore a leaky gut lining and help prevent gut distress when exercising in hot weather.

  • Includes high amounts of cytokines, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and growth factors.

  • Supports immune system, gut health, and detoxification.

  • Elderberry - Study done similar to the zinc study shows it can vastly reduce the duration and symptoms of a cold.

  • Immunostimulant effects.

  • Can reduce duration and symptoms of cold.

  • May shorten duration of flu symptoms by 4 days.

  • Bone Broth - I always have this on hand, often will add a little bit of curcumin and black pepper to spice things up a bit. One to look for is Kettle & Fire

  • High in glycine which supports gut health and immune system.

  • Soothing to sore throats.

  • Can add to homemade soup.

You know you will be busy with the holidays, traveling, kids’ programs, relatives, etc. Do yourself (and those around you) a favor…take control of your health, eat nutritionally, and incorporate these tips into your life. Guard your health like a mama bear guarding her new born cubs...

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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