11 Ways to Better Immunity

Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” is known for saying “Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.”

While some believe catching colds in cold season is just what you do, we love that you know there are some things you can do to fortify your family.   …cause an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

*Please seek the advice of a health professional prior to self-treating any illness with medicinal herbs.

1. Raw Foods

Raw foods are chock full of enzymes and vitamins that can be damaged or destroyed completely by heat.  Many people today eat very little fruits and vegetables, and even less are eating these in their natural state.  Consuming more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds gives the body more of a fighting edge as they help to optimize the overall health of the body while strengthening its resilience.  While some foods are made more palatable and/or digestible by cooking, most fruits and vegetables can be turned into gorgeous, colorful, delectable dishes with no heat in no time.

2. Probiotics & Prebiotics

Health experts estimate that anywhere from 60-80% of your immune work happens in the gut.  An unhealthy gut can put the body in overload mode and make it more susceptible to sickness.  Many parents have had great success in boosting their children’s immunity by including prebiotics and probiotics in their diets.  Probiotics are the “good bacteria” found in the intestines that kill the bad bacteria.  It is especially important to replenish probiotics in the digestive tract if you’ve used antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria with the bad.  Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that nourishes the probiotics in the gut.  Supplements can be purchased that contain both, however, you can also give those tummies a regular boost through simple, everyday foods.

Probiotics:  Make sure the food/beverage you are purchasing for these contain LIVE CULTURES.  Probiotics can be destroyed by heat and time. So, the fresher, the better.  Its good to get an array of good gut flora (different strains will be listed with the ingredients).  Find these in kefir (milk, water or juice), yogurt, kombucha, fermented juices (no, I’m not telling you to pour jr. a glass of wine.  Many grocers now carry juices with live cultures for gut health); raw cheese, and other raw fermented foods, like sauerkraut, beet kvass and others.  Again, be sure the product was not pasteurized post-fermentation.  Many companies do this to yield a product with the right flavor and a longer shelf life.  Probiotics are living organisms that are useless to you dead.

Prebiotics: This is another area where raw foods are key.  Raw foods, such as bananas, garlic and asparagus are all excellent sources of the undigestible fibers that promote the growth of probiotics in the intestines.

3. Elderberry (Sambucus)

Known for being loaded powerful antioxidants and immune boosting properties, elderberry has long ranked high on the list of go-to remedies for health professionals and moms alike.  Elderberry has been used for centuries for coughs, colds, flus, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis.  Its bioflavanoids and other proteins are said to diminish/destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect the body’s cells.  Israel’s Hasassah’s Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system so efficiently that they’re using it to treat cancer and AIDS patients with it.

Elderberry is sold as a tasty syrup for kids and adults.  Our favorite is Nature’s Way Sambucus with Echinacea.  We keep this stuff on hand for a quick immune boost when around others who are sick or at the first sight of infection.  If you happen to be thinking about making your own, please note, the berries of certain cultivars of this plant can be toxic when eaten raw.  Elderberries should be cooked down for safety, digestibility and palatability.

4. Echinacea

A well known immune booster, echinacea can be purchased as a tea, tincture, supplement or syrup.  The University of Maryland reports that several studies suggest echinacea contains substances that boost immune function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral and antioxidant effects, making it potentially useful for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, ear infections, hay fever, sinusitis, athlete’s foot, and slow-healing wounds.

Caution: Those with allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums or marigolds should exercise caution when considering echinacea as it may trigger an allergic reaction.  Caution should also be exercised by individual’s taking immunosuppressant medication.

5. Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries for treating a host of ailments.  It was used to prevent gangrene in the soldiers of both World Wars.  It has been used as an antiseptic and applied to wounds to prevent infection.  It is rich in antioxidants to fight off free radicals and is commonly used to kill parasites and boost the immune system, amongst many other ailments.

Raw garlic, not cooked or dried, is most beneficial for health, since heat and water inactivate sulfur enzymes, which can diminish garlic’s antibiotic effects.

6. Vitamin D3

Crucial for bone health and immunity, the body produces this when exposed to sunlight.  15 minutes a day can do wonders for people with lighter skin.  Darker skin types may require more exposure to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.  D3 levels can run low in the winter but may be adequately restored by stepping into the sun with the face and hands exposed.  Vitamin D3 can also be purchased as a supplement in capsule form or in a small dissolvable tablet.

Vitamin D can also be obtained through mushrooms, eggs, dairy products and many flesh foods.

7. Joy

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the gift of joy.  Chronic low-joy environments are associated with many things we will be talking about in the future but, for the sake of this article, let’s just talk about how it relates to our bodies’ ability to ward off disease.  Studies consistently show links between mental/emotional disposition and health.  Pessimism, depression, constant frustrations, a negative environment – all of these things way on the whole person and make the body more susceptible to disease.  Same goes for our kids.  Joy and laughter support a healthy mind and healthy body.  Don’t resist the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh and make memories you and your children will enjoy for a lifetime.

8. Water

With an estimated 90% of the population chronically dehydrated, this point certainly warrants the space.  Water is critical for good heath, especially when it comes to immunity.  Water oxygenates blood, flushes out toxins, supports lymph production (critical in immune response), keeps eyes and mouth clean, aids digestion and assimilation, prevents and aids many chronic ailments.  As much as possible, spring waters and home-filtered waters should chosen over municipal water thats often laden with a toxic excess of flouride, as well as chemical disinfecting agents and other chemicals that are less than supportive to the immune system.

9. Exercise 

Exercise works wonders for the body, including boosting immunity.  Our bodies have more lymph than blood but, unlike the blood flowing through the heart, the lymphatic system has no pump.  The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting white blood cells to fight infection.  The lymphatic system relies on your body movement.  Do your kids seem bounce everywhere like mine do?  While there’s a time and a place for all things, I try not to dissuade them when I can help it as bouncing is one of the best ways to get lymph moving through the body.  Even a steady, gentle bounce on a small rebounder can be of great benefit.

10. Rest 

While I know you’re busy and life has more demands coming at you than you can shake a stick at, hear me when I tell you – you’ve got to make time for rest.  It is crucial that you not only get your 7-8 hours sleep a night but that you also set aside a day to take it easy each week.  I’m a mom too.  I totally get it.  I’ve struggled with this more times than I can count and it doesn’t take long for it to catch up with me either. The body has to have time to cleanse and repair itself and it needs rest to do this.  This is especially true for children as they have the added demand of growing and learning so much.

11. Sweets 

I know, this is the tough one for so many and kids especially love their sweets but avoiding sugary foods is especially important for the immune system.  Studies have shown that sugar consumption can inhibit the immune system for upwards to 6 hours after eating it!  Boost the immune system with naturally sweet substitutes.  If “super-sweet” is a “must,” try dates (especially Medjools).  They are especially good with a touch of almond/nut butter smeared down the center and can totally satisfy a craving for a decadent dessert with only a few.  Stevia can also help to decrease sugar consumption without the threat of mutiny for suddenly removing sugar from the household.

Detox Your Home and Remove Harmful Toxins that Surround Your Child

Article provided byDr. Lisa Sulsenti  Dr. Sulsenti is a chiropractor, nutritionist, author, and crusader for families with the Autism Spectrum Disorders.  She is passionate about YOUR FAMILY and helping you build the healthy and happy balanced life with Autism Spectrum Disorders that you desire. Visit her at DrLisaSulsenti.com Be sure to check out her book: The Overtilted Child: Creating a Sensational Classroom for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorder, and ADD/ADHDavailable on amazon.  As originally featured in ASK DR LISA, FAMILY HEALTH

 ” Dr. Lisa, I loved your free Autism Awareness gift, Kid’s Healthy Shopping List, as I have begun the journey of removing harmful toxins and ingredients in my child’s food choices. It got me thinking – should I also be considering removing any harmful toxins in my home such as some that are in cleaners that I am using?  My daughter is such a big helper in doing her chores, so using safe products is something I would like to consider.” ~ Caroline , Texas

 If your life is anything similar to mine, balancing time to clean dirty toilets, bathrooms, showers, and kitchens is a juggling act. Top this magic trick with picking up dirty laundry, as well as, washing, sorting, folding and the dreaded putting clean clothes away, and you truly steal the show.  In fact, you are my superhero if you pull this all off in the midst of kids and work.

One of my favorite infrequent moments in my momma circus life, is when for some strange cosmic reason, my house is entirely clean. That is, all the rooms, laundry and floors. That very precious moment when I realize the mess and dirt is all gone. Clean. Healthy. Done.

 Well, maybe clean and done, but let’s question healthy.

You see, we typically equate a clean home to a healthy safe place for our children. And, the amount of work and magic that goes into making sure our homes are clean and safe for our children deserves superhero awards. However, if we use toxic chemicals to clean our homes, we actually are leaving behind unhealthy hazardous residues both on our home’s surfaces and in the indoor air that are extremely harmful to our family. Yikes.

Imagine. All that effort and craze to get our houses clean, yet we fail to keep our children healthy when we use the wrong cleaning products.

Insane, right?

It is super important to have your child involved in pitching in with the household cleaning and chores. Many kids as young as the age of three can help put toys away, keeping their play areas and bedrooms neat. As a child grows, one can start to use a non-toxic safe cleaner to wipe windows, tables and even counter tops. As your child matures, he/she can actually gain more responsibility in helping clean the home with chores such as loading and emptying a dishwasher and laundry machine, bringing down dirty laundry, folding and putting away clean laundry, cleaning a bathroom with safe cleaners and vacuuming.

In our home the rule is we all pitch in. We assign chores, but also will ask whatever child is home to help pitch in with a task that is age appropriate. I tell my boys that we are a tribe and we work together, pitching in so our family happily works. I do not pay them as being part of our tribe means doing their part without monetary reward. However, we gladly give our children some money to go out with their friends if they are doing their part. Groovy how we all reward our children differently and get them to pitch in!

If your child is using your household cleaners, let’s stop and dig deeper into why you must use healthy products only.

Through much of my research over the years, I have found that toxins in the home, food and environment are linked to creating health problems such as asthma, eczema, childhood and breast cancer and neurological problems such as behavior, learning and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation’s (CCRF), Toxic-Free Kids program encourages parents to use safe cleaning alternatives to lessen their children’s exposure to hazardous and potentially cancer-causing products that contain carcinogens such as kerosene, hydrochloric acid, ammonia and chlorine bleach. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution within our homes is a serious health concern.

Children are at a higher risk to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals because their immune systems, organs, tissues and nervous systems are growing and developing rapidly each and every day. Also, children tend to crawl, play in dirty areas, and use their hands and mouth to explore and learn about their world. Even as children get older, their play, behavior and lack of awareness to hygiene continues to make them more vulnerable. Adding harmful toxins for them to breathe in or lather onto their skin and hair only increases risks of health problems.

Household products such as bleach, ammonia, window, wood, oven, bath and toilet cleaners, dish and laundry detergents, and air fresheners can be dangerous to a child’s health.

The Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has developed a list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to have a link to autism and learning disabilities. The top ten chemicals are lead, methylmercury, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, endocrine disruptors, automotive exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds.

At this time, two papers were published by researchers from University of California – Davis suggesting the need for more studies. One stated a correlation that PCBs disrupt early brain development and another advised the exploration of the link between pesticide exposure and autism.

It is true; a CLEAN house can be a harmful to our children. Ugh.

What You Can Do to Create a Healthy Clean Home

Our goal is to build a family and home that is safe, healthy and clean for our children. In order to do so, you must be aware and avoid the following common household cleaning chemicals. They are reported to be toxic and create diseases such as breast and childhood cancer, asthma, eczema and neurological problems.

Common Toxic Cleaning Chemicals to Avoid

Alkylphenols are chemicals used in detergents and other cleaning products. They’re also found in personal care products, especially hair products. These chemicals interact with cellular estrogen receptors in the body, capable of creating estrogen displacement and havoc.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical used in cleaning products and household items such as soaps, detergents, toothpastes, mouthwash and cleaning supplies. The pesticide chemical can affect the body’s hormone systems, such as thyroid hormones, and consequently, may disrupt normal breast development.

Aldehydes, such as glutaraldehyde, are chemicals that may cause when the are breathed in or come in contact with the skin. They can cause permanent damage to the eyes, ears, nose , throat and lungs. Formaldehyde is a lung and respiratory irritant and is also classified as a category 3 carcinogen. Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in cleaning products.

Benzalkonium Chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions such as eczema and chronic dermatitis. There is also a stated correlation between an increase in childhood asthma and the exposure to this chemical through household disinfectants, sanitizers, and personal care products.

Sodium Hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer that can burn skin and cause eye damage. Mixing bleach with other household products can be extremely dangerous. According to the American Association of Poison Control Center’s annual reports, sodium hypochlorite has been implicated in many household accidents and/or deaths.

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used to render plastics soft and flexible. They are found in plastics, cosmetics, fragrances especially in cosmetics and household cleaners, baby care products, building material, modeling clay, cars and insecticides. They enter the body by skin, ingestion, inhalation and medical injection. They are found in the air and dust in homes.

Ammonia Hydroxide is a common sanitizer used in the home, and according to the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is considered carcinogenic. It also had been linked with creating health problems with skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes. The Environmental Working Group has stated a correlation with asthma, respiratory and skin issues as well.

Dyes in Cleaning Products

Dyes in cleaning products are often unlabeled on the products’ ingredient lists, but are often comprised of several different chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Dyes in food and cleaning products have been linked to cancer and neurological problems, such as behavior, attention, learning problems.

Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Green 3 are derived from coal tar and petroleum, and according to the Center of Science in Public Interest (CSPI) have or have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The British Food Standards Agency in 2001 concluded after a study that 6 dyes/colorants and sodium benzoate were linked to increasing hyperactivity and ADD in children. As a result, the European Union Law required all beverages with these 6 dyes to have warning labels that consumption can lead to hyperactivity. We must be aware that our children are not ingesting dyes through foods or inhaling it the air as well.

How to Detox and Create a Toxic-Free Home

You are a supermom. Your hard work and love does not go unnoticed. Simply yield here and allow this as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Vinegar

Vinegar works great at removing grease, dirt and grime. It is acidic in nature and has a super antibacterial effect. I use it on the floors, counter tops in bathroom and kitchens, toilets, mirrors and windows. Mix 1 cup of vinegar with water in a bucket or spray bottle. Safe and fun for the kids.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is great as an abrasive and replaces products such as Comet or Soft Scrub by miles. It works great on the toilets, tubs, showers and places that need a tougher scrubbing such as the stove. If you need more power, simple add a little salt to it. Safe for the kids too!

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has the power to kill mold and beat grease. It also leaves a great lemon fresh scent. Simply mix lemon juice with vinegar or olive oil to create a lovely safe and strong cleaning product.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide has an amazing ability to remove stains and cut through tougher grease and dirt. Mixing it in a spray bottle with water is a great cleaner and also can be a safe spot remove when doing laundry.

Homemade Laundry and Dish Detergents

There are many recipes today on the internet and Pinterest on how to DIY your own laundry and dish detergents. Look at this great website that even has a DIY dryer sheets, keeping your house and cleaning products safe and healthy for your kids.

The Home Detox Online Course

My friend and environmental engineer Laura Trotta has a fantastic website and  an online program, the Home-Detox Boot Camp, where she shares her framework for a cleaner, greener, healthier home. It is where I learned all I need to know on how to clean my house naturally and safely.

Remember, harmful toxins in food, our homes and environments can create neurological problems in the body. Thus, having a harmful toxin-free home helps our children regulate their nervous systems and overcome challenges related to asthma, allergies, sensory processing, ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Clean. Safe. Healthy.

I now feel like a real Super Mom. You will too!


A Note from the Editor

If you’ve found this article helpful to you, please be sure to SHARE it with friends.  Also, be sure to hop on over to learn more about Dr. Sulsenti at DrLisaSulsenti.com and give her Facebook Page a LIKE to stay in the loop and receive all the many great resources she continues to offer!


Resources

http://www.cleanwelltoday.com/blog/?p=61

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700674/BENZALKONIUM_CHLORIDE/#

http://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-watch-list-benzalkonium-chloride-the-potentially-harmful-disinfectant/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/top-10-chemicals-most-likely-to-cause-autism-and-learning-disabilities/

http://jstevens.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/baby-and-child-safe-disinfecting/

http://www.bibra-information.co.uk/downloads/toxicity-profile-for-ammonium-hydroxide-1995/

http://www.healthyhomecleaning.com/norwex-window-cloth-vs-windex/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240919/

Article originally published MAY 9, 2015

Summer Digestion Made Simple

Article provided byClaire Morris, ND  Dr. Claire Morris, ND is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist & Certified Natural Health Practitioner.  She is highly passionate about helping others regain health freedom, vitality and abundance using nutrition and gentle, non-invasive, natural remedies.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your digestion causing discomfort, especially in the summer.  There are a number of reasons for this and a few simple suggestions to alleviate the symptoms.

Articles concerning what and why summer heartburn happens are in abundance.  Some believe there are eight foods that trigger the acid response.  Others believe taking over-the-counter pharmaceuticals is a solution.  In case you were curious about the eight foods, they are: hotdogs, cheeseburgers, baked beans, lemonade, ice cream, corn on the cob, BBQ Ribs, and iced coffee.  While those may cause some stomach distress, because of the extra fat content and spices, I would like to offer another consideration.

In the winter months it is common to consume more of the “meat and potato” type diet, which is not a bad combination, when it comes to digestion in the stomach.  When summer arrives, we begin to eat more fresh and raw produce, along with the meat and potatoes.  This is when the trouble begins.

Food combining is a practiced form of chemistry, balancing acids and bases that can neutralize each other.  The food combining diet can be particularly useful for individuals that suffer from acid reflux or chronic indigestion.  Because stomach stress is relieved by this form of eating, often weight loss and health will follow.  Some people begin to notice a difference almost immediately.

Here are a few tips to put good food combining practices to use in your household this summer:

  • Melons should ALWAYS be eaten alone!  Melons are a summer fruit which break down quickly, in as little as twenty minutes.  So wait at least that amount of time before consuming any other food.
  • Liquids should be taken separately, as well.  This includes water.  There are some conflicting opinions on this point as it is believed that consuming too much water with a meal dilutes stomach acid, impeding digestion.  I suggest drinking only enough to wash the food down.
  • Fruit, in general, should be consumed on their own.  Some believe morning to be the best time to consume these as it is the time when the body is already cleansing and eliminating.
  • Proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry) should be eaten separately from starches (at different meals) but vegetables may be combined with both proteins and starches.  Potatoes are considered a vegetable, not a starch, for combining purposes.  Stomach acid is required for digestion of proteins, and if starches are combined with the proteins, the digestive environment is neither acid nor alkaline enough for either food group to be absorbed well.
  • Starches are, usually, digested well when consumed alone or with vegetables.

Perhaps, you’ve noticed when you combine certain foods, it causes tummy trouble.  In our culture it’s not as common to think we have too much acid when we actually have too little.  When there is not enough digestive acid, the foods break down differently and cause gas which pushes into the esophagus, burning and resulting in belching and inflammation.  Sugars break down more quickly than proteins, so, save that dessert for a couple of hours later.

If this doesn’t’ appeal, (which I think it is at least worth trying), consider digestive enzymes before reaching for the acid blockers.  This also good if you’ve eaten too much and need relief.

Here’s to a well digested summer… Enjoy!

Article originally published 6/25/2013 & republished 7/11/2016

Say “Goodbye” to Summer Pests Naturally

Article provided byClaire Morris, ND  Dr. Claire Morris, ND is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist & Certified Natural Health Practitioner.  She is highly passionate about helping others regain health freedom, vitality and abundance using nutrition and gentle, non-invasive, natural remedies.

You know the ones…fleas and mosquitoes, makes me itch just thinking about them.

Theses tiny insects are great disease carriers.  The diseases include bubonic plague, murine typhus, tapeworms, flea allergy dermatitis, denque fever, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers, West Nile virus, helminthiasis (filariasis worm), viral encephalitis (brain inflammation).  …and you thought they were just terribly annoying.

Have you ever noticed how they are attracted to some more than others?  This attraction is caused by individual chemistry.  If they like yours, look out!

Commercial insect repellents may be effective but use some toxins that cause sensitivity.  If you are looking for natural alternatives there are a few you should be aware of.  Caring for yourself and your pets inside and out are important.

Internally it is important for humans and animals to consume plenty of B vitamins.  These are found in unprocessed whole grains, liver and brewer’s or nutritional yeast.  Specific B vitamins are found in a variety of foods, amazingly they are all found in the brewer’s yeast.  {On a personal note, my parents forced my sister and me to take brewer’s yeast as children and to this day mosquitoes and fleas do not like us.}  Keep in mind it may take up to six weeks for the effectiveness to reach its peak and some may need more than others.

Externally, the natural ingredients usually include citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil and castor oil.  These essential oils are mosquito deterrents.  They can be mixed with carrier oils or food grade alcohols.  To make, just mix the essential oil with the carrier base to dilute.  Essential oils are potent, so use the motto “less is more” to prevent irritation.

Citronella oil is good to use around your door way and on pets.  Mix 1oz. citronella oil with 1 cup of yellow colored lemon dish soap and 32 oz. of yellow mouthwash.  Mix in a spray bottle and use as needed.

Fleas are more complex as they have the advantage of burying and hiding.  Extreme cleanliness is important to eliminate infestation or re-infestation.  While we may get them on our clothing and bring them in, it’s usually our pets get them and become and unwilling host.  Garlic and brewer’s yeast are important to add to their diets.  The rule of thumb is a clove of fresh garlic a day.  This gets rid of the odor and flavor of the skin that attracts fleas.  (Note, too much garlic could become toxic to a pet, whether consumed in large quantities or even in smaller quantities over a longer period of time.  Talk to you veterinarian regarding the use of garlic on your pet and for help determining an acceptable amount based on your pet’s size.)

Citronella, rosemary and wormwood make good herbal rubs and sprays. Using a fresh lemon rinse is another way of repelling fleas.  This can be done daily until the skin heals.  An off the wall solution is diatomaceous earth.  This can be dusted on and rubbed into the animal’s hair for protection.  It will suffocate the flea eggs and larva.  With fleas it is important to stop the life cycle.  It can take up to three months to truly get things under control.

Have a natural pest free year!

 

 

Article originally published 5/25/2012 & republished 7/11/2016