Take That, Coronavirus! Over a Dozen Immune System Boosting Tips

So, another Coronavirus inspired post. How is everybody doing? Never would I have imagined that everyone’s lives would be at such a worldwide standstill. Shortly after I posted this article, I received confirmation that both a friend’s wedding and my Eastern press trip are postponed. Despite all of this newfound free time at home, I bet you’ll agree with me it’s not easy to feel motivated. So much is unknown and feels overwhelming.

So, I’m taking it one day at a time. My priorities are self-care and keeping my immune system as boosted as possible. As someone with autoimmune issues including type 1 diabetes, I’ve spent my share of time not feeling the greatest. Through the years, I’ve worked with various doctors and healers as well as done extensive research of my own on natural ways to improve my body.

While I still have bouts of low times, I think I’m maintaining better than ever before. Instead of jumping on a bandwagon, only to burn out and not stick to a plan, I’ve learned slow and steady progression is key to set new patterns. Personally, strategies like going cold turkey won’t work for me.

With everyone thinking more than ever about keeping their immune system up, here’s a whole bunch of elixirs and practices I’ve found immensely helpful in my quest for healing and keeping my immune system happy.

Stay safe, my friends.

Favorite Natural Immune System Boosters

I used to take a lot more over-the-counter and prescribed drugs on a regular basis. Rounds of antibiotics, ibuprofen, acid reducers, antihistamines, and the like were common. Nowadays, my bathroom cupboard still has those medical necessities for times I TRULY need them. Otherwise, I’ve adopted a much more holistic approach on a day-to-day basis. To keep my immune system strong during this epidemic, I’m taking three thousand IUs of Vitamins A and D along with two to five thousand Vitamin C, two thousand milligrams of Omega 3 and fatty acids, and a B supplement.

Another immune-boosting powerhouse having a moment is Elderberry and for good reason. Not only does elderberry reduce inflammation and release antioxidants, but it can lessen the severity of colds. Stopping the growth of bacteria, some choose to reserve elderberry for more intense treatment when they feel illness on the rise. Others, like myself, go ahead and use it as a preventative. I admit I’d cooled a bit on my dosages, but I’m back on it again and I plan to continue.

Thinking of my happy place. (c) Mary Farah
When you feel fatigued, take a tip from Nova and take a snooze. (c) Mary Farah
Immune System Support in my Diet

My diet has changed drastically over the past two years and I know I’m feeling the results. This was probably the hardest part of my “makeover,” so to speak. I’d been vegetarian or pescatarian for the better part of 15 years. While I’ve never had a horrible diet, there was a lot of room for improvement. It was always, “I’m going to start juicing” or “This is the month I give up dairy” only to not stick to a protocol and feel rather “stuck” with my lifestyle choices. Realizing I should make “choices” instead of “rules” helped me, too.

I slowly evolved from a steady intake of seafood, tofu and a hella lot of dairy products (creamer in my coffee, frozen yogurt, cheese, pizza) to some meat (no beef or pork) and close to no milk products unless it’s a treat on a trip; I couldn’t not have enchiladas in New Mexico. Nowadays, I’ll do poultry (often a large chicken breast from the hot deli at Whole Foods) two or so times a week along with a vast amount of plant-based foods like acai bowls, cold-pressed bars, and my current favorite, steel-cut oatmeal.

As “granny” as it sounds, I pack a lot of nutrients and immunity boosters in my oatmeal, which has become a near-daily meal. I boil it in almond milk, add manuka honeycoconut oil, chia, and hemp seeds. If you’d told me even a few months ago I’d be so excited at manuka honey and hemp seeds, I wouldn’t have known what the heck those even were. For times when I cannot handle paying the price of manuka honey, I also love orange blossom raw honey. While it has got some sugar, any kind of raw, unfiltered, or manuka honey is incredible, natural boosters. When I want to vary it up, I love almond or peanut butter for a low-carb/high fat perk.

Being the gluten-free “flexitarian” I am, you can also assume I use a lot of quinoa, Jasmine and brown rice, fruits, and veggies, too.

I try to imitate a lot of dishes like this one from The Grove Cafe in Albuquerque. (c) Mary Farah
Matcha lattes with almond milk and a hint of stevia or honey are also common. (c) Mary Farah
Give your Adrenals and Stress Levels some Love

Before this epidemic began, I was struggling with my fatigue again badly. I have a check-up scheduled next month and decided in the meantime to go back on some adrenal support. My adrenal levels have been low in the past, which indicates that my body is in a constant state of stress; think of your immune system always in its fight or flight mode. When that’s the case, your adrenal glands, much like your thyroid, cannot function properly. It’s common with autoimmune conditions and is often called Addison’s Disease. Various treatments, including the use of steroids, is common.

I’ve not used steroids in any of my treatment plans and have had success with all-natural treatments for my adrenal levels. To give an example of the difference in under a month from taking my adrenal vitamins, I was too exhausted at the thought of standing at a concert a few weeks ago. This past weekend, my husband and I walked a five-mile trail here in LA. While I can’t say for certain it’s adrenal related, it certainly feels like it.

While a lot goes into improving adrenal fatigue, this tincture from BioRay is one of my go-to’s. In this time of uncertainty, our stress levels are definitely in that fight or flight mode. As simple as it sounds, stress can drastically reduce your immune system. This is why it’s become extremely important to me to keep a check on my adrenals and stress levels (which is easier said than done a lot of time).

I’ll admit: these bowls are not cheap! But, here’s one of my favorites from SunLife Organics; their oatmeal. (c) Mary Farah
Staying happy and low in stress is essential for the immune system. Music makes me happy.  Me pretending to play piano in Petaluma. (c) Michael Farah
Green Juices Instead of Caffeine: If I can do it, you can do It

The hardest thing I’ve eliminated from my daily diet: coffee.

It seems innocent enough, tastes heavenly when brewed right, and provides bouncing energy. What’s not to love? I’ve drunk coffee most of my life; I had espresso shots at 11 years old. Unfortunately, coffee can not be so great for you in large quantities, especially for women. It can promote too much estrogen in the body, which for me resulted in very painful monthly cycles, among other imbalances. I still love coffee, but gone are the days of multiple venti orders.

Now? I try to get in at-least four green juices a week. I’m usually lazy and will rely on Nektar or a local juice bar for a green fix (lots of celery and lemon) but I am slowly realizing I should be blending my own. It should be easy enough, but it took me years to actually crave or notice when I’m not getting vegetable juices in. I’m not one to eat many greens, so for me, a large green juice blend has become my new definition of “venti.”

To supplement my caffeine affair, I’ve come to love green tea (Jasmine or Gunpowder) and matcha. Also heavy on the antioxidants, green tea is known to promote a healthy immune system. Coffee, especially for those with adrenal fatigue, can actually weaken. When I do give into my java temptation, I have gone “coffee snob” and buy organic, preferably shade-grown whole beans. You can learn more about why these two factors matter to me HERE.

Oh, lattes. You devil. (c) Mary Farah
More green tea, please! (c) Mary Farah
Staying Hydrated

This goes without saying: drink water! Yet, not all water is the same. I was all about alkaline waters until I learned a few better tricks of the trade from Jill Bucaro of Wellness Riot. Did you know attempting to balance your pH levels with alkaline waters can actually be harder on your body? You’re better off finding a good sourced purified water (I buy one at Trader Joe’s sourced from New Zealand) and working on your overall lifestyle and diet to keep your pH balanced.

Hydration, for example, is another huge factor in keeping the immune system up. Yet, you can be drinking eight to ten glasses a day yet still be dehydrated. Huh?! I was so confused when I learned this, too. Jill taught me it’s all about absorbing what you take. Getting more electrolytes by drinking a bottle of coconut water a day is a good start, and I also add a dash of pink Himalayan salt to my water. Pink salt actually replenishes proper fluid balance and prevents dehydration since sodium is actually an essential mineral our bodies need. What nasty table salt cannot do, Himalayan pink salt can.

Until Next Time…

I truly feel these little steps are in the right direction; especially limiting coffee and dairy, and keeping a check on my vitamins and adrenals. In these uncertain times, you do what you can do. Just a reminder: While I love to talk about holistic care and learn, I’m in no way a medical professional or Doctor. This advice is in no way meant to cure, prevent, or treat medical conditions, If you know some good tips or I didn’t list your favorite immune-boosting supplement or tip, let me know.

And heads up: Would you like an Along Comes Mary Spring playlist? I’m on Spotify a lot these days. xo

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