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Family Wellness

How to keep your family well

Every day the human body encounters potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites (ewww don’t think to hard about that!). However most of us are able to function well, and live our lives without constant illness. 

The immune system

The immune system is complex. Simply put, it consists of white blood cells, and the lymphatic system. These assist the body in fighting infections and other illnesses.

There are two main components of our immune system:

  1. Innate Immune System
  2. Adaptive (acquired) Immune System

Innate immune system 

Comprised of barriers to prevent foreign particles from entering the body, the innate immune system is general/non-specific, therefore anything non-self is a target. 

Physical barriers:

  • skin
  • eyelashes
  • respiratory tract
  • gastrointestinal tract

Defence mechanisms:

  • mucous
  • bile
  • gastric acid
  • tears

General immune responses:

  • inflammation
  • complementary and non specific cellular responses

Adaptive/acquired immune system

This system is activated by exposure to germs and uses memory to learn about the threat (how damn smart, right?). It then enhances the immune response accordingly.

The adaptive immune system involves just B cells and T cells; yet is still very complex!

It is slower to respond than the innate immune system which is primed and ready to fight at all times, but allows us to achieve lasting immunity to many of the germs we are exposed to.

Babies and children start with innate immunity only, and build adaptive/acquired immunity via exposure to germs over time.

A helping hand

It’s important to work at building your immunity on a daily basis, year round, so that you have a robust defence system should illness strike. 

The choices we make every day of our lives can either enhance or hinder our immune system function.

Essentials for robust immunity (adults and children):

  • adequate sleep
  • wholesome nutrition
  • stress reduction 
  • physical activity 

Smoking cessation and reducing alcohol consumption are also important for general well-being and healthy immune system function. 

Build it up babe:

  1. Time outdoors. Place bare feet on the ground or in water (ocean, river, lake) to re energise and soak up the Earth’s negative ions.
  2. Turn wifi off each night; using EMF protection; and limiting time on devices – particularly for children.
  3. Intestinal worming with the change of season – herbal or over the counter. Worms thrive in children, taking advantage of their developing immune system. Treat on the full moon and again two weeks later with bed linen changes for the family each time.
  4. Adequate hydration. Quality water, fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices, and herbal teas (tulsi, peppermint, manuka, thyme, lemon balm are great choices).
  5. Consume an abundance of stir fried and roasted vegetables, salads, smoothies, and plant-focussed curries, soups and stews. Include garlic, ginger and turmeric root into your meals. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut are also beneficial. 
  6. Limit sugar and processed/packaged foods.
  7. Cold therapy – something I have found very effective. A daily cold shower or ocean/river dip builds mental and physical resilience, increases innate immune system function, and lowers systemic inflammation.
  8. Stress reduction/body movement all-in-ones: tai chi, qi gong, yoga, meditation and walking.  
  9. Epsom salt + essential oil baths most days (for the kids; weekly for adults). 
  10. Adaptogenic herbs. The ultimate support for poor immune function. Used safely for centuries within Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, these herbs have the ability to resist stressors of all kinds, bringing balance to where it is needed most. Favourites are ashwagandha, astragalus, reishi, chaga, tulsi, he shou wu, cordyceps, and maca. Slip them into a smoothie, hot chocolate, or even your meals. 
  11. Daily supplements such as esterified or liposomal vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, and selenium will help you to build a foundation of defence.

When illness strikes…

When on the verge of illness, we stop the adaptogenic herbs and increase vitamin C to bowel tolerance.

We up the zinc to twice daily, take echinacea, guzzle lemon drinks (recipe below), and take elderberry syrup too. There are some great herbal tonics out there containing the latter two for when illness strikes.

A daily tonic for the family:

Add 1-2 lemons, a large knob of ginger and a piece of turmeric root to a juicer.

Pour juice into two one litre glass bottles.

Add raw honey or pure maple syrup to taste and some ground black pepper.

Fill halfway with cold water, then to the top with boiling water.

Shake gently until honey dissolves.

Alternatively, add ingredients to a blender with 2 L hot (not boiling) water and blend. Allow to steep for at least ten mins. Strain and enjoy! 

Always a pleasure,

Hannah x

 

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