Some of us love getting back into the daily routine when September comes along but one thing is certain, the laid-back days days of summer are over and we are catapulted back to our hectic schedules; getting the kids out of the door, rushing to work or juggling full-on home schedules, speeding to after-school activities, making sure there is something somewhat healthy for dinner whilst trying to get the kids to do their homework. Forget about a little ‘me’ time – there just doesn’t seem to be a moment in the day! Frankly my dear, it's exhausting!
One of the quickest ways to deplete our immune system is to be under this chronic level of stress, day after day.
We know this is not good - but what does it have to do with our immunity? Simply put, stress undermines our health, especially our gut and digestive health that is the ‘seat’ of our immunity.
As Hippocrates once said, “All disease starts in the gut.”
When we are stressed:
- Our digestion is slower and less efficient
- We don’t absorb the same amount of nutrients
- Our metabolism slows down
- Our gut can become irritated and inflamed leading to conditions such as ulcers, IBS and Colitis
Guess what ... when that inflammation in our gut spikes, it sends our cortisol levels shooting up, putting us right back into that ‘fight or flight’ mode and presto, we are back in that stress wheel all over again!
So this year, how can we change what we put in our bodies to stop the cycle of stress and depleted immunity?
I'm going to K.I.S.S. with my 3 EASY Steps:
The ‘6’ Rule
Aim for a maximum of 6 teaspoons of ADDED sugar a day. Did you know that this is the World Health Organization’s recommendation (WHO) for daily sugar allowance for overall health prevention? Sugar feeds the bad bacteria, over-running the good bacteria in our gut that is essential to our immune health.
What is added sugar? Any table sugar, fructose or honey used as an ingredient in processing and preparing foods or beverages, eaten separately or added to a meal at the dining table. We all know the main culprits - soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream and pies but once you start reading labels, you may be rather surprised at how much sugar is hiding in your favorite food.
BRIT BEET tip: To work out how much added sugar is in any product, take the sugar amount in grams and divide that amount by 4 to get the amount in teaspoons. For example:
Nestea Iced Tea
Sugar amount: 28 grams
Serving Size: 20 fluid ounces
Total added sugar = 7 teaspoons
If you drank this, you would have consumed your whole day's recommended sugar amount plus an additional teaspoon and you haven't eaten anything yet!
Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods contain all that good bacteria we so desperately want hanging out in our gut, keeping our immune systems strong. So the next time you go to the store, if you haven't ventured into the world of fermented foods before, be brave and pick up a jar of:
- Kimchi: (Yes, it stinks when you open it (you've been warned, but it tastes REALLY good!)
- Sauerkraut (my husband and I have this for lunch every day with the kimchi - it’s a delicious combo!)
- Kefir: Make the switch from regular yoghurt- the family will love it! (You’ll find it in the yoghurt aisle; look for Organic Kefir in glass bottles.)
- Miso: Add a daily teaspoon to soups, salads and dressings. Try my Immunity Salad Dressing for your 'hit' of daily miso!
Aim to eat at least two serving of fermented food daily - it's really going help keep your good bacteria level up and your immunity strengthened.
Take Probiotic Supplements
Even with the best intentions we can still find ourselves stressed out and sucking back on sugar - it's normal so don't beat yourself up. However, taking a daily probiotic can be the 'steady Eddy' in your immunity toolbox - think of it as 'immunity insurance'.
Note: As a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, I have accessed to a wide range of probiotic supplements, so please ask me for my recommendation on brands, single/multi strain varieties, room stable vs. refrigerated options and the optimal times of days to take them.
So there you have it - 3 easy steps that we can put into daily practice to give our families the best chance to stay healthy and happy this coming year.
You’ve got this!