How to Help your Gut and Immune System in Times of Stress
It’s been quite a month around here, and we’re all dealing with a fair amount of mental and immune stress! Aside from having a family go through a surgery that severely limited mobility, we’ve had a cold running through the house, and none of us have been sleeping well. (Did I mention we’re trying to run 2 businesses and keep our house from falling into complete disaster state?)
All this has led to taxed immune systems, and definitely an increase in stress!
Here are some ways that we’ve been working to support our gut health and immune systems to improve resilience and maintain some sense of control!
One of our natural instincts is to reach for foods that provide comfort in times of stress. And those are often sugary, carb-laden processed foods. However, those will not support a healthy gut, and certainly aren’t boosting the immune system. Instead, try to incorporate plenty of colorful, fiber-rich foods which provide essential plan nutrients, and feed beneficial microbes in the digestive tract. Over 70% of our immune system is housed within our gut, sending out chemical messengers to the rest of the body for healing and inflammation reduction! We made sure to offer our "patient" a nutrient packed smoothie every day. My favorite recipe is so simple, and offers lots of room for variations, and can be prepped ahead of time. This is known as a “Mommy Smoothie” in our house; (because my husband has his own version) I make a blender-full and store leftovers in the fridge for the next day.
Sleep and Rest
Want to really insult your kid? Tell them they seem tired. Hahaha!
Asking a child if they want to go to bed early, even when they proclaim fatigue all day long… is like asking them if they want to walk across hot coals. How dare you? But for all of us, we really needed some extra zzzs over the past few weeks. Sleep is the only time the brain is able to reduce inflammation and eliminate toxins. It’s the time that our cells can focus on muscle and cell repair instead of all the things that happen when we’re awake. Sleep is one of the most critical, and often neglected pieces of recovery from injury or illness, especially if it’s difficult to get comfortable or you’re in pain, as was the case in our house. Cortisol levels rise when we’re injured or stressed, and are reduced most greatly when we’re asleep or in a meditative state.
But if you can hit the hay a little earlier, pile up the pillows just right, put on your silk eye mask, set your humidifier, spray the lavender and put on your sound machine, you will certainly be helping your body to get better faster! (Wait, maybe that’s just in our house - you may have a lower maintenance sleep routine- haha!)
You know I love this hormone-like vitamin, and all it’s benefits! Despite being incredibly limited with mobility, we’ve been trying to get "the patient" outside every day that it’s been sunny- and we have been SO LUCKY to have had such mild weather! The temps have been unseasonably warm, and the sun has been shining! Thank goodness!A chair in a sunny spot on the walkway was the best we could do at first. Just 10-15 minutes 2 times per day totally changed her outlook and improved her mood (and mine!). The sun really is magic. Getting natural Vitamin D from the sun has a host of other benefits. Read about them here!
Especially music that’s recorded to be “binaural” which means you hear it in each ear separately when you listen with headphones or with a device positioned appropriately. Music, and especially this type, has been shown to reduce stress, stabilize and slow breathing, promote calm, and even help get into a meditative state that has the potential to repair DNA! WHAT?! All that just from listening to what we call “chill music?” Yes Please! It’s simple to find this music, type in “binaural music” into your favorite music app or music service, and you’ll have so many options!
A good quality multivitamin can’t hurt, and if you know that you’re not getting a strong variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to support a healthy microbiome, try supplementing with a complete wellness promoting pre- and pro-biotic protocol. These not only give your body essential nutrients and compounds, but help to enable cell regeneration and allow the body to concentrate on healing and reducing the stress hormone - cortisol.
If you're experiencing a time of high stress, or you’ve been injured or ill recently, I hope some of these tips will help you to feel your best, faster! Know someone who could benefit from these tactics, share this post with them!
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