Homesteading with Hyacynth: Naturally Building Your Immune System

Welcome to Homesteading with Hyacynth! Homesteading with Hyacynth is a monthly look at ways to lead a healthy, greener, more sustainable life. My intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. Of course, I am not a medical professional so these are my tips and what worked for my family.

homesteading with hyacynth

We were going to talk about preserving the harvest today, but honestly, friends, I looked at the calendar and realized we’ve got bigger fish to fry:

We’ve got immune systems to build.

And we’ve gotta get started before summer fades to cold and flu season and kiddos are coming home from school and hacking all over the place.

Here’s the good news about strengthening the immune system; likely, if you’ve been enjoying the heck out of summer — out in the sun, inhaling the local in-season fruits and veggies and indulging in some nice relaxation times — you’re well on your way to doing good battle with the approaching cold and flu season.

Before we look at the foundations, let’s first ponder mindset:

  1.  My favorite doctor once told me something priceless: We don’t have to be afraid of the bugs and germs and toxins that come our way; we simply have to help our bodies become stronger than the offenders. Now that’s an encouragement to take make these foundations of health priority!
  2. But let’s have realistic expectations, too. Sometimes we do get sick because life doesn’t always allow us to operate on our A games. And that’s ok!
  3. So when one of those offenders gets the best of us, we’ve got to repeatedly repeat that our bodies were made to heal. This in itself speeds the healing process biochemically and drives us to give our bodies what they need to activate internal healing mechanisms. (Don’t believe we can heal? Ponder a broken bone for a few moments and let that reframe the way you think about your body!)
  4. Do what you can without stressing about doing it all perfectly. We moms need to be well! I would argue that medical professionals like Dr. Lissa Rankin are onto something when she names chronic stress and the stinkin’ thinkin’ that often accompanies it as a huge contributor to illness and disease.
  5. I’m not a doctor. Just a mom with the experience of five kids and a myriad of illnesses who have sat at the feet of some amazing holistic practitioners in the area and has healed from some pretty petty things and some pretty gnarly chronic things while focusing on the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.

One more thing: there’s no one magic pill we can swallow. Our bodies were created to need these foundations, working in tandem. Omit one and the balance wavers.

Build with food
We’ve only got so much space, so some of this you’ll have to trust or do further digging if you’re interested. But here’s the gist.

Eat local. Eat seasonally. Eat whole foods.

cherry tomatoes

Our bodies thrive when we eat according to season and local availability. One of my doctors recently shared with me research showing the body actually begins to produce antigens to foods that are eaten out of season year-round, which could be contributing to the hyper-increase in food sensitivities and intolerances.

Also, our food loses nutrients within just a few days of being picked. Eating food from local sources drastically cuts that farm-to-table time, giving our bodies the most nutrients and minerals available.

Lastly, eating whole foods ensures we are getting more than just calories. It ensures we are ingesting micro-nutrients that are essential to cell and system function. And our cells and systems need these vitamins and minerals found in whole foods in order to stay strong or rebuild and repair.

Bonus Build — cook with ample garlic, onions and fresh herbs to give the immune system natural support.

Build with microbes
If you’re new to the study of the human body, it’s a little shocking to find out bacteria actually outnumber the cells in our bodies.

And here’s the thing about bacteria: they are like little gangs; they travel in pacts with the intent to overthrow the other side. And they come, simply speaking, in good and bad varieties. Essentially there’s the dark side and the light side. And you definitely want the Luke Skywalkers to outnumber the Darth Vaders.

Here’s how we ensure that the light side overtakes the dark side, in preferable order:

  • eat cultured foods and drinks like naturally fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured veggies, milk kefir, yogurt, water kefir, and kombucha
  • eat raw foods
  • take a high-quality probiotic before bed on an empty stomach

Bonus Build — We’ll be talking more about good gut flora in September and how you can easily make and incorporate cultured food and drink into your life. If you’re ready to get on the cultured foods bandwagon now, read more about it at Cultured Food Life or Cultures for Life.

Naturally Building Your Immune System

Build with sunshine and activity

By spending time outdoors our immune systems are introduced to various bacteria, fungi, and viruses through outdoor interaction, which gives klout to great grandma’s saying that “dirt won’t hurt.” Our immune systems then better understand the microbial “lay of the land.”

Plus, we need sunshine. We won’t go into the intricacies of Vitamin D and how good old D3 actually functions more like a hormone than a vitamin and is extremely important to our systems functioning correctly. But I will say that sunshine is our best source of D3. If you or your little ones are constantly sick during cold and flu season, I’d highly recommend asking your doctor to test your Vitamin D 3 levels and then find a high-quality source of D3 with Vitamin k2 in it, as they work in tandem and desperately need each other!  If you’re really low, though, you may need to supplement.

Bonus Build — Good natural sources of D3 and K2in combination include pasture-raised dairy.

Build with Sleep and Natural Routine
We all know sleep is essential for our bodies to heal. But many of us don’t take it all that seriously. We burn the iPad late into the night and neglect the time when our bodies naturally get to work cleaning up, detoxing and repairing.

After recognizing that there are, indeed rhythms and seasons for a reason, our family has decided to sync with the natural rhythms of each season. We’re in bed earlier and longer as the days shorten and awake longer when the days stretch out. Interestingly, more sleep — longer nights — coincides with the start of cold and flu season.

Bonus Build — Of course, babies, toddlers, and moms need a day-time nap! Especially in that life season of waking at night! Kids, teens and adults alike may need naps when fighting off a bug. So respect sleep needs in life seasons as much as the meteorological seasons and nap on!

Build with Faith
While we’re not all on the same faith page, I would be deeply amiss to neglect this foundation of healthy living. Our souls are interwoven with our bodies in ways we can’t understand. Our emotions deeply affect our physical health! It’s why we often find ourselves sickest when we are most heavily weighed down by heavy emotions like grief or depression or anxiety. When we connect deeply with the Divine, we allow our souls to breathe out the heaviness and inhale the cleansing calm that comes from trusting in a Divine Power that is way greater than we are. {Honestly, my relationship with the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God the Father has been central to my healing from serious physical illness; I’d call it even miraculous, and you can read about this experience at my personal blog Undercover Mother.} If you’ve been dealing with chronic illness or face illness after illness during cold and flu season, I’d encourage you to delve further into the mind/soul/body connection and explore the physical healing that happens when the soul experiences rest.

Bonus Build — Prayer, meditation, involvement in a community of faith and yoga have all shown extremely helpful in promoting physical wellness.

Build with Supplements

Supplements like olive leaf oil, oil of oregano, Congaplex by Standard Process and sesame seed oil are all staples in our wellness closet. When the above things are out of balance and whack, these won’t act like magic bullets. But these supplements definitely have given a noticeable boost to our immune systems, especially when used in conjunction with a long night’s sleep. We take sesame seed oil daily as prevention during cold and flu season and we also will do five drops of olive leaf oil in juice a few times per week as prevention as well.

We’ll talk in-depth next month about how and when my family uses all of these supplement remedies, plus a few more, to give you an idea of how to boost the immune system when sickness does occur. 

Until then, enjoy summer and start building those foundations!

Homesteading with Hyacynth: Naturally Building Your Immune System
About Hyacynth 22 Articles
Hyacynth Worth is wife to John and mother to two boys and two girls. She writes about motherhood, healthy living and faith at Undercover Mother. She is Little Lake County's managing editor and the author of Homesteading with Hyacynth. She promises to be candid, amusing and only slightly neurotic. Most of the time.

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