I have been brainstorming ideas for this post for a few weeks now. Its gonna be a long one, take it in sections if you need to. Good information here, feel free to pass it along to your friends and family but please let them know where you found it. Thanks!

If you listen to any mainstream media outlet you have likely been exposed to information regarding this flu season. Some media outlets are presenting this information with a real “fear factor” tone setting the stage for worry and stress. Special vaccines have been created for this flu season resulting in mass indoctrination and wide spread debate on how to handle the ‘crisis’.

I am not going to share my personal views on the possible flu crisis rather I choose to focus my energies on Maintaining Wellness. The immune system and strengthening wellness are two topics very important to me. Roughly five years ago I began teaching small workshops geared toward strengthening children’s immune system wellness. These workshops have grown each year to include the entire family as a focus as well as involving a blending component that teaches how to create your own herbal healing kit at home. Check out the last facebook event page here.

So today I am going to share some ideas on how to keep you and your family well throughout the year. Simple suggestions that are easy to implement and are not too costly.

Top Five Ways to Stay Well

1) Limit Stress and Get Enough Sleep. Simple suggestion that doesn’t really cost anything at all. You know yourself the best; what stresses you, what eases your stress. If you are handling your stress well, good for you! If not, its time to seek out ways to help you figure it out. Exercise, meditation, deep breathing, writing in a journal, spending quality time with those you love, doing something special for yourself, taking time for you: these are all ideas to return your vitality and ease your stress.

With that comes proper sleep, which to some is 6 hours a night, some its 9 hours. What brings full rest to you? Be sure you are sleeping in a room that is dedicated to sleep, avoid having phones, televisions, computers and anything electronic in your room, this includes your children’s rooms. Create a sanctuary of sleep with comfortable covers you love, a pillow that supports your head gently. This is your time to let go, relax and rest well. Be sure the room is completely dark and when you arise in the morning be sure to open the blinds and let the natural light in. Find your restful rhythm because this is truly when your body, your mind and your spirit renew and repair.

2) Avoid Exposure and Wash your Hands. Again, a very simple suggestion, one that may seem very obvious to some but to others this may be new information. First and foremost, wash your hands. When you arrive home from being out and about, wash your hands. When you are in a public place such as a library, your office, the mall, the movie theatre, wash your hands. Always use soap and hot enough water to handle and while you are washing sing Happy Birthday to yourself. This is how you will know that you have successfully washed your hands.

While we are on the topic of hands, think about what you touch throughout the day. Door handles, pin pads for debit cards, computer keyboards, the pole on the bus or the train, everywhere you go you are reaching out and grabbing something that someone has touched before you. If you aren’t wearing gloves a simple solution is to pull your sleeve over your hand and use that as a barrier. Some people carry a anti-bacterial gel with them for this reason. I don’t support the use of mainstream gels due to the high alcohol content and the nature of the formula, selecting instead to use a simple solution of aloe vera gel and tea tree oil. Much safer for the whole family this item can be made at home and put into a container that works well for you. Tea tree oil also works extremely well at sanitizing any of the above items of high traffic use. There are many guides on the market that provide comprehensive information on how to safely use tea tree oil.

3) Include Proper Hydration. Try to think of your body as a machine, a fine tuned machine that requires certain things in order to maintain its ability to function at optimum power. First and foremost is water. Proper, clean, healthy, life sustaining water. If you are still drinking city tap water, well, stop! First off its chlorinated, which will result in a the slow down of your immune function, not to mention the water is loaded with chemicals that are not properly filtered out. There is also the issue of the flouride in the city tap water.

There are many filtration processes out there, the important thing to remember is that your water needs to have a mineral base to it in order for it to permeate the cell membrane and hydrate the body. Water filtered by reverse osmosis will need to be remineralized in order to actual hydrate the body. A inexpensive counter top filtration system, that both filters the water and mineralizes it is the Santevia Water System. Make sure you are hydrated all day long. Start your day off with a pure glass of water with organic lemon. The lemon will help to cleanse your system as well as promote an alkaline effect for your body. When you maintain an alkaline pH you are less likely to get sick. Remember that the average human body requires about 7 cups of water to just replace what is output by the urinary system. This doesn’t account for any fluids consumed that leach water from the system such as coffee, tea, alcohol and it doesn’t account for any physical activity that promotes perspiration, another water output of the body. It is recommended that one aims to drink 15 cups or 3.5 liters of quality water a day.

4) Include Proper Nutrition. Just like the water aspect, the food aspect of maintaining wellness is very important. First, lets take care of the stuff that we know we shouldn’t include. The whites (sugar/flour/bread etc), the deep fried, the bad fats, the packaged lifeless foods that bring little to no vitality to the mind, body and spirit and actually result in suppressing the body to the point that certain body systems shut off completely; immune system included. Spunky Mama has a great write up about the basics of healthy food choices on her blog, check it out!!

So what should we include to really support the body? There are certain nutrients that really fire up the immune response and support the body exponentially, one of which is Vitamin D. Another is Vitamin A. In the middle of the deep dark winter its very difficult (impossible) to source Vitamin D though natural sources such as the sun, grass fed dairy products, eggs from hens that are eating bugs and grass etc. Interestingly enough those foods also provide us with Vitamin A. So, including a supplemental form of these is essential. A great product, a cod liver oil/butter oil combo, can be found at Radiant Life.

Include good sources of Vitamin C ( I hope you all have a freezer full of blueberries from this summer’s yield) and Zinc (raw dairy products, sprouted nuts, lamb) to support the body. Most of all source your food from organic farms or grow/raise your own without harmful chemicals. Just do it. If it means eliminating something in order to afford it, do it. Organic food has twice, often three times the nutrient content of conventional plus it comes without the toxic tag along of conventional foods. And, from an environmental point of view, organic farming is so much easier on the earth, our home.

5) Herbal Support. Well it wouldn’t be Friday Herb Fest without a little chat about herbs! So you have done your homework; you are limiting your stress and sleeping well, you are including good foods and water and limiting foods that work against your natural wellness. You are implementing healthy habits to limit your exposure to any outside pathogens. The final addition to your daily routine is to include herbal support in the form of a daily tincture that supports wellness and improves immune function. Taking a preventative dosage will stimulate your own natural ability to combat illness.

What kind of herbs to include in the tincture? If you have been reading along on the blog so far (and I hope you have!) you will know that its essential to source a tincture from a qualified tincture maker that is versed in traditional methods of plant medicine making. Further to that it would be wonderful if you were able to sit with the tincture maker/herbalist and have then custom blend you a medicine that is specific to your needs. There are many herbs that support wellness and immune support, some of which are Echinacea, Astragulus, Schisandra berry, Elder berry, Shatavari, Thyme, Oregon Grape, Strawberry leaf etc. Each herb does something different and provides something unique that in combination with others provides a full spectrum support to wellness. There are many herbal support remedies on the market as well. If this is something that resonates with you, do your research and make sure that the over the counter remedy you choose provides specifically what you need.

This concludes today’s entry on Maintaining Wellness. Next week I am going to write about what to do if you do encounter an immune system suppression, what to have on hand and how to help yourself and your loved ones recover.

Happy Friday everyone!! For all my Canadian readers, enjoy the long weekend.

Here is a picture from a few years back of a couple of healthy kids I know. 😉
Quinn & Freya '06

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