Boost Your Immune System
The outside temps have dropped, and the leaves are falling which means one thing… cold and flu season has officially arrived!
Having children seems to increase the odds of getting sick, since school is the perfect breeding ground of nasty viruses and bacterial infections. While you can teach your kiddos to constantly wash their hands (which does help) you can’t prevent them from catching airborne illnesses like the flu.
So, what’s a parent to do when the environment we live in could very possibly lead to one or more of your children getting sick and very likely needing antibiotics or other medications?
For that matter, what can you do to protect your immune system?
This made me think more about a previous post I wrote, “Living with Stress,” and how many people are living in pain and coping with stress, which we all know can affect the immune system.
How is anyone with a compromised immune system supposed to get through the fall and coming winter without getting sick? Is it even possible?
Yes, it is possible. One of the best tools I’ve used to build up my immune system is to juice.
If you just groaned right now, you’re not alone! You may even be thinking, uh oh, here we go, someone else trying to push juicing!
I know how you feel because I’ve been there!
The first time I was introduced to juicing was about twenty-five years ago when I started working at Whole Foods. They had a juice and smoothie bar. I loved the smoothies but was skeptical about the juices.
Everyone’s doing it
Larry was intrigued with juicing, so we bought a juicer, which came with some recipes, and we started to create our own on the weekends. Neither of us knew what the benefits really were and stuck to basic fruits (apples, mostly) and vegetables (carrots, never any greens).
We started juicing during the winter, which is also when we brought our exercise in house. Larry preferred the stationary bike and I preferred the treadmill. At the time we lived in Chicago and there was no way I was going to do anything outdoors in the winter!
After walking on the treadmill for a short while (I got bored easily) I would make myself a juice. I felt pretty good about myself those mornings (even though it really happened only on Saturdays!)
I still didn’t understand the benefits, but I did it because everyone said it was good for you… Have you ever done that?
When spring rolled around, I gladly gave up walking on the treadmill and, as a byproduct, I also gave up on juicing. I didn’t understand the benefits, therefor I didn’t think it was worth the effort.
Let’s try this again
Fast forward to 2013, when I was battling chronic fatigue and inflammation brought on by valley fever, and I started researching various methods to improve my immune system. Of course, juicing came up many times in my research; the only difference was that now I collected concrete reasons related to the benefits of juicing that I hadn’t known before.
My journey with juicing began once again. This time, though, I was more methodical and adventurous about it. I started using ingredients that I had never tried, for example: turmeric, beets, fennel and broccoli stems, which normally I threw away.
Amazingly enough, within days I started to feel the benefits of juicing. My inflammation started to decrease, and I had more energy as the day went on. And, let’s just say, my digestive system started functioning better.
But, as with any issues surrounding our food, there are pros and cons. I’d like to address both here to help you make an informed decision.
Pros of Juicing:
- You can get way more servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet than if you ate them whole.
- More servings of fruit and vegetables mean more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your body.
- The enzymes found in fruit and vegetables are greater in their raw state vs. cooked.
- It helps the body maintain a better pH balance (more on this topic later).
- It removes the fiber, which aides in the digestion process (especially good if you are under a lot of stress which can affect digestion).
- Even the pickiest of eaters tend to find a juice they can enjoy!
Cons of Juicing:
- Many people in the United States already don’t get the recommended daily allowance of fiber. So, if you juice, make sure you’re still getting fiber in other ways.
- It can be time intensive. I’ll share tips to reduce the time it takes to juice in another post.
- Cost (I will address cost of healthy food vs. medical costs in another post).
- There’s not much scientific evidence to support the health claims people experience (Hopefully science will catch up on this). However, there are many reputable wellness centers, such as Hippocrates Health Institute, that incorporate juicing into its daily regimen.
After all that info I’m sure you probably have some questions for me. Hopefully most will be answered below; if not, please feel free to send me an email.
How much do I juice?
I drink a 12 or 16oz glass of juice that I make at home or buy (from a reputable juice bar, not pre-packaged juices, which tend to have added sugar) whenever I feel run down or want to boost my immune system. I will juice a batch that equals 2-3 glasses and store in the refrigerator.
Does it really make a difference?
As soon as I begin to develop a scratchy throat and a cough, an indicator for me that my immune system is being compromised, I will juice consistently. Within a day or two most cold symptoms have disappeared.
What do I juice?
Green juices, with romaine, spinach, celery, green apples, lemon, ginger, etc. are my favorite, followed by beet juice. My kids love carrot juice; be sure to check out the recipe this week, my boys helped me create a juice that’s very kid friendly and packed with vitamins to help your immune system!
What’s the best juicer?
I use an Omega juicer. It’s a little pricey, so before I made this purchase, I waited to make sure I was committed. Also, l recommend if you’re in the market to buy a juicer you look for coupons and keep checking for sales. Fortunately, I had a coupon for 20% off when I bought mine.
Since everyone has different needs (price, ease of clean up, etc.) I’d rather provide you with a link that compares juicers with some good reviews. You can compare juicers here: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/appliances/juicer-reviews/g598/best-juicers/
Juicing can be a family affair
One of the best residual benefits I’ve had from juicing is the interest my kids have with it. Charlie and George have both helped put the fruit and vegetables into the juicer and each time I make a juice all the boys want a sip. Sometimes the sip turns into half the glass! But I certainly don’t mind.
I feel like our children are facing some sad statistics for health-related diseases that aren’t in their favor.
My mission is to educate my kids- and as many people as I can- so they can arm themselves and build up their immune systems, even if mom’s not hanging out with them.
And, let’s face it: it’s tough for our kids to make good choices when they’re inundated with so much junk food and sugary drinks on a daily basis, even at school! Sometimes all we can do is inform them, give them the tools and hope they make the best decision.
I’ll be honest, my own kids have a hard time making good choices when faced with processed foods that taste really good (and I do too!), these food companies know what they’re doing, hello yummy potato chips, Reese’s peanut butter cups, oh boy! But, too much processed/sugary foods can really bring your immune system down and leave you open to catching the latest virus going around.
With Halloween tomorrow, it’s going to be even tougher. Which is why this is the perfect time to get some juicing in.
I pray you make it through the fall and winter in good health!