Fixing My Immune System

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, my immune system. It sucks. Seriously.

I used to be one of those people that never got sick. For years, I bragged about how I never needed to take sick days. If I felt a tickle in my throat or got a head cold, I’d drink some orange juice and go to bed early, and it would be gone the next day. At some point, that all changed. It might have had something to do with having two germ factories children. Not sure, all I know is that over time, I found myself stuck in a cycle of declining health… strep throat, fatigue, digestive issues. I thought that by having my tonsils removed, eliminating the chronic strep throat, that might set me back on a path of health. And things have been pretty good since March. I haven’t had any major illnesses, but I still have trouble breathing at night, severe skin rashes, and dreadfully low energy.

This latest sickness was just what I needed to kick my butt into gear.

After being sick for a week, I went to the doctor for a strep test. Turns out that it wasn’t strep (woo hoo!), but after being sick for two weeks, I went back to the doctor to ask “WTF, why do I still feel so sick?” and she told me, in a nutshell, that I have a suppressed immune system. Ya think? I passed out on an airplane. Clearly, my body is not in tip-top shape. I’m stuck in a cycle. Suppressed immune system -> virus -> suppressed immune system -> virus -> on and on.

I really liked this doctor. She’s at my regular physician’s office, so as far as I know, she isn’t a naturopath or anything, but she told me that to get better — and STAY better — I need to boost my immune system and reduce inflammation in my body. She talked about things like ginger and turmeric and echinacea instead of DayQuil. I liked that. She said to buy teas and herbs and get more rest and inhale steam once a day.

After leaving her office, I felt invigorated. Hopeful. I stopped at Healthway Natural Foods on the way home and bought Daily Detox tea and Yogi Cold Season Sampler. I’ve been drinking two cups of tea per day plus drinking a glass of water with Airborne. In addition, I decided I need to make dietary changes to support a stronger immune system. I’m a big fan of Dr. Mark Hyman, so i went to the library to pick up his book “The UltraSimple Diet“. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Hyman, I highly recommend that you check him out. I think he’s brilliant. I’ve read a couple of his books but never had the motivation to actually put any of them into action. Until now.

The UltraSimple Diet is a 7-day diet intended to detoxify and reduce inflammation in your body. Dr. Hyman says that following this diet will lead to reduced illness, increased energy, and better sleep. My friends, I need this.

The diet itself is pretty self-explanatory. No sugar, dairy, flour, corn, peanuts, red meat, caffeine, citrus (except lemons), packaged or processed food, alcohol. Lots of water, fish, chicken, berries, veggies, vegetable broth, legumes, brown rice, nuts and seeds, flaxseeds, and lemons. Every day you drink several shakes and several cups of vegetable broth.

I’m pretty excited about it. I’d love to see if following something like this, even if only for seven days, will help me get some energy and get out of this vicious cycle of sickness. I’m going to do the actual diet beginning after Thanksgiving. Between now and then, I’m going to start to prep for it by eliminating gluten, dairy, and sugar. After the diet, I’ll be traveling again for business. Man, it would be great to be healthy and energetic on my next trip!

Is anybody out there interested in trying this with me?

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17 Responses to Fixing My Immune System

  1. lindsay says:

    well I am all about supporting you! Keep me posted. WOuld love to hear more abou the book too!

  2. Christine says:

    Thanks for the kind words, L. The first book I read by Mark Hyman, MD was “The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First – The Simple Way to Defeat Depression, Overcome Anxiety, and Sharpen Your Mind” — fascinating book. Now of course I'm doing the “UltraSimple Diet” and after that I plan to read “Ultraprevention: The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Life”. I'd love to hear what you think of him and his suggestions. He's a big believer in food sensitivities/allergies, and how what you eat determines your health, physical and mental.

  3. lindsay says:

    oh now I am definitely going to have to look into this book!

  4. Allie says:

    This sounds kind of cool! I hope you feel better soon 🙂 Let us know how the diet works!

  5. Hannah says:

    Good luck! Can't say detoxing is something I'll be doing in the foreseeable future, but I hope it helps you build your insides-strength 😀

  6. Missy says:

    Oh, suck. Suck suck SUCK!
    I am glad you seem to be on an uptick ..and actually have a positive attitude! I cannot even imagine having two small kids and being down for that long…OUCH!
    I can only imagine the pile of laundry, Wish I could help.

    Have you researched probiotics? Supposedly they work wonders not only for digestion but for the immune system too. If you are interested…I'd probably ask Lindsay though. She's awesome like that.

    You know I eat very similar to this (but not as clean) and so I can point you in some direction with recipes and products I like.

  7. I hope this makes you feel better! I work with kids so I get sick a lot, so normally I would chalk up any cold to that, but in your case- it definitely sounds like something a little more. Keep us updated!

  8. Christine says:

    Don't even talk about the laundry. It is Out. Of. Control.

    I have probiotics, but I usually only take them when I'm on antibiotics. I bought a new bottle today at TJ's, thanks for the suggestion!

    Product ideas would be great. I did find unsweetened Vanilla almond milk at TJ's today, which had me jumping around in the aisle. They didn't have Terra Chips. I was sad.

  9. Missy says:

    I love unsweetened almond milk. Almond breeze or silk they sell at my “regular” grocery.

    I have a Pinterest Board where I pin products I like and most of them are sugar and flour free but if you want to get super strict the veganaise has some sweetener.

    http://pinterest.com/caterpillarmiss/food-products-i-love-sugar-free-flour-free/

    And recipes that can go sugar free flour free

    http://pinterest.com/caterpillarmiss/food-to-make-and-eat/

    To satisfy your cracker cravings look for Mary's Gone Crackers. They have no flour, just rice and they are DELISH! < --- Did I really write that?
    And eat your quinoa! It has more protein and it is lighter than brown rice (though rice is good too).

    I eat a lot of rice cakes, too.

    Uncle Sam's and Dorset make flour free and their is always ezekiel cereal but I think that has wheat. Can't wait to see if you notice a diff.

    PS– You are starting this after thanksgiving, right? Because that would be tough..lol. Oh, and then there is the matter of leftovers.

  10. Christine says:

    Thank you so much! The “diet” is a 7-day thing, so yes, I will start after Thanksgiving, because I want to follow it to the letter. However, I'm already making small changes because there are some things that are just for the 7 day diet and others that I think are important lifestyle changes. The sugar thing is an important lifestyle change. I don't plan to give up sugar entirely, but I want to cut back a lot and I want sugar to be something special, a treat, rather than an everyday thing. I'm also going to give up gluten and dairy for a while, then reintroduce each to see if either is causing me issues. But mostly when I have a choice to eat something with sugar or not, I want to choose not. I haven't had much sugar in the last four days, and I can't believe it. No cookies, no candy, no chocolate. I feel great. I don't even miss it so far which is really strange. Tomorrow is thanksgiving and I have no plans to eat any pumpkin pie. I think ultimately I'm going to aim for a 70/30 or 80/20 diet, where 70-80% of the time I am eating non-sugar/gluten/dairy. So once or twice a week I can have a bagel or a cookie or whatever.

  11. Missy says:

    That sounds like a really good plan..

    I started the sugar-free flour free thing at a center that treats people with eating -ahem-issues with a meal plan based on FAA if you click here:
    http://www.foodaddictsanonymous.org/faa-food-plan
    and look on the left you will see a list of “sugar names”
    and we were told to avoid anything with those ingredients higher than the fifth.

    It was like “whoa” but I started reading my labels and sugar is in EVERYTHING! Even normal sugar. It's in so many spice mixes, almost all tomato sauces, deli meat, salt and pepper cashews ?(< -- That one stuns people when I tell them) lots of potato and tortilla chips, steak sauce...just everywhere. Once you start checking labels and recognizing code names it is fascinating — strengthens your resolve to eat cleaner (though I am not as strict as I use to be by any means) and made me realize how ubiquitous it is in our diets and that may be why Americans are so sick, tired and obese. Maybe a contributing factor, you know? Wow. Long comment. Clearly I am interested in this (and really truly not because I am a messed up anorexic girl despite what people think LOL). Feel better!

  12. Cindy says:

    I recently went to a cooking and nutrition class from a neighbor who is a holistic health counselor. She extolled the virtues of gluten- and dairy- free eating and Chia seeds as an immunity boost, and some of the other moms there were totally on board her methods. We should meet for a healthy lunch sometime soon and we can compare the 7 day cleanse and this lady's ideas! I am not sure I'm brave enough to do either, but I'm interested…

  13. Christine says:

    Let's do it!

  14. I used to get sick all the time. If there was a germ going around, I caught it. Now, I rarely get sick. Even when Carter has a cold or cough and sneezes all over me for days, I hardly ever catch it. My hubby always does. I honestly attribute it to the way I eat. Food has such amazing power and the right foods really do strengthen your immune system. Plus, vitamin D3 every day. I swear my it.

  15. My immune system is bonkers. Sometimes I never get sick and then every now and again I will get hit with one thing after another after another. Sorry you've been feeling bad for so long. Hope this plan works for you. Definitely can't hurt, right? 😉

  16. Christine says:

    Yep, and once you get sick, your immune system is suppressed and just makes it that much easier to get something else. No fair!

  17. Christine says:

    I've been taking D3 lately, in a calcium + d3 pill. Let's hope it does something!

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