Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Go Wild and Get All Your Nutrition at the Same Time

Most of the food available to us these days is produced with industrial agricultural practices or through factory farming. With these type of practices the goal focuses on the production of quantity of food rather than quality of food. This has led to a decline in the nutrition that is available from the foods we eat. To compensate for this reduction in nutrition, many people are turning to wild edibles and whole food supplements. Edible mushrooms are one source of wild foods that are becoming more popular as the many health benefits scientists are discovering come to light.

Edible Mushrooms: The Wave of the Future
While edible mushrooms have been used for their health properties for thousands of years by other cultures, our modern society is just starting to really recognize how these wild edibles can be beneficial for health and nutrition. Probably the best known use for fungi for medicinal purposes is penicillin. Since that discovery however, scientists such as Paul Stamets, presenter at the TEDMED conference 2011, have researched various varieties of mushrooms to uncover the benefits they have to offer. According to Stamets, only around 14,000 of the over 150,000 mushroom species have been identified. Of those studied, various mushrooms have been found to have benefits for improving blood flow, balancing cholesterol and blood sugar, regenerating nerves, improving immune system function, supporting the kidney and liver, and reducing the risk of heart disease as well as many other functions that can improve health. According to George Hudler, a professor in Cornell University's Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, increased knowledge of chemical properties in mushrooms will make them more desirable in the future, hopefully even in mainstream medicine. 

Edible Mushrooms Benefits
One of the discoveries made about edible mushrooms is the antioxidant properties they have. Antioxidants are very important in promoting a healthy immune system and in the prevention of disease as they help fight off the damage done by free radicals to our body cells and to repair damage already done. One of the interests in mushroom research is studying how the antioxidant properties could protect against conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Even your common white button mushrooms have health benefits as this variety has been found to be a good natural source of vitamin B complex. Although there is much more study needed with all the various mushroom species, many scientists today are convinced that edible mushrooms will be the "new frontier of modern medicine". Let's take a look at a few of the ones that have been researched and the types of benefits that are being accredited to them.

Agaricu Blazei – is known to contain polysaccharides and the potent antioxidant ergosterol, research interests have revolved around this mushroom's benefits for blood glucose, cholesterol, circulation, inflammation, liver function and immune system function.

Agarikon – is a tree based conk mushroom with research interests in the areas of benefits for inflammation, age related memory function, immune system, oxidative stress and cellular support.

Black Trumpet – has polysaccharides, polyphenols, beta glucans and trace minerals with research interests specifically in the area of benefits for immune system function, blood glucose and cellular integrity.

Turkey Tail – contains the polysaccharide-protein complexes PSK and PSP which are water soluble, contain polysaccharides, beta glucans and protein. Research interests with this edible mushroom have concentrated on the benefits to immune modulation, digestive system, circulation, lymph system, boosting the immune system, liver function and cellular system.

Cordyceps – is high in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants and nucleoside derivatives with research focused on the benefits for immune system, liver function, sports performance, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, circulatory system, immune modulation, cellular oxidation, blood glucose and kidney function.

Lion's Mane – has NGF (nerve growth factor) with research interested in the benefits for stimulation of nerve growth, neuropathy, age related memory function, intestinal ulceration, mental clarity, and the neurological system.

Maitake – is especially valuable for nutrition with its beneficial phospholipids, unsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, antioxidants, beta glucans and plant sterols such as ergosterol. Research is focused on the benefits for the immune system, liver function, endocrine system, circulatory system, bone and skeletal system, blood glucose, skin, immune modulation and cardiovascular system.

Oyster Mushroom – is rich in beta glucans, B vitamins, protein, minerals, polysaccharides, and ergothioneine (a potent antioxidant). Research has been focused on the benefits for the cardiovascular system, cellular oxidation, inflammation, circulatory system, and immune system.

Poria Cocos – is a polypore tuber found on the root of pine trees that Chinese medicine has utilized for over 5,000 years. It is a rich source of beta glucans, polysaccharides, fiber, and triterpenes. Research has been focused on the benefits for the gastrointestinal system, nervous system, inflammation, joint and cartilage systems, kidney function and cardiovascular system.

Reishi – has 130 identified triterpenoid compounds which contribute to making it a complete whole food rich in proteins, enzymes, minerals, beta glucans, and complex polysaccharides. Research has been especially interested in its benefits to the cardiovascular system, liver function, circulation, cholesterol, inflammation, stress response, oxidative stress, immune modulation, cellular damage and immune system.

Shiitake – is a mushroom especially valuable for nutrition as it is rich in beta glucans, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, B vitamins, and ergosterol. Research continues to focus on the benefits for the immune system, cardiovascular system, immune modulation, liver function, cholesterol, and cellular oxidation. This is probably one of the most intensely researched and used edible mushrooms for health benefits.

The Easy Way to Go Wild
An easy, convenient way to get all the benefits of edible mushrooms is from this wild foods line of whole food supplements. This line not only gives you the benefits of reishi, maitake, cordyceps, wild black trumpet, and Poria cocos mushrooms, but also the whole foods nutrition of wild foods from the Earth and the Earth's water sources. This supplement in particular has a combination of nine different algae for full-spectrum nutrition and this supplement  combines the nutritional benefits of whole AFA bluegreen algae, red beta algae, and custom-grown wheat sprouts working together to supply superior antioxidant nutrition. If you are just looking for a supplement with the power of edible mushrooms, this supplement is the one for you.

However you choose to get your wild whole foods nutrition, consider using sustainable wild edibles to supplement your diet. We don't have to settle for less than optimal food sources. Finding sustainable, local organic foods and supplementing with wild edibles can help our bodies get the nutrition it needs to work at its best.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of phanlop88FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 More Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

Food is the fuel for our bodies and to keep from becoming overweight we have to burn off what our bodies don't use and want to store as fat. Giving a boost to your metabolism is one way of helping to burn off those extra calories. In our last newsletter we covered 7 ways of how to boost your metabolism, here are a few more metabolism boosting tips.

1. Gain Muscle To Boost Your Metabolism
Muscle gain is one way to boost your metabolism because muscle burns many more calories than fat as it uses more energy. Eating more lean protein than carbs is one way to gain muscle. Doing regular strength-training or resistance training exercise is another and will help preserve the muscle you build. This would include exercises of the type that cause the muscles to contract against an external resistance to increase strength, tone, mass or endurance. The external resistance could be from objects such as weights or dumbbells or even your own body weight or exercise mat such as with lunges, leg abductions or plank type exercises. According to Gary Hunter, PhD, a professor of human studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, doing strength training even a couple of times a week sets your metabolism at a higher rate so that it stays high even on days you don't get your exercise routine in.

2. Eat Dairy to Boost Your Metabolism
A study at the University of Copenhagen reports that calcium helps boost your metabolism by speeding up the process of the body getting rid of fat as waste. The best way to get the calcium for this type of metabolism boost is from foods such as low-fat dairy. Not getting enough calcium in the body can actually release the same hormone that makes the body store fat. If you are not a big dairy fan or have allergies or intolerances to dairy, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, broccoli, sardines, fortified cereals and juices, beans, tofu, and fish are other sources of calcium from foods.

3. Don't Skimp On Calories to Boost Your Metabolism
When trying to lose weight, many people cut way down on calories. The problem with doing this is that the body goes into "starvation mode" which means it slows down the fat burning process in order to conserve energy. Instead be sure you consume the same amount of calories each day that your resting metabolism would burn off. For example, for a woman who is 40 years old, around 5'4", and weighs 150 pounds, she should consume 1330 calories daily.

4. EPOC to Boost Your Metabolism
According to Walt Thompson, PhD, professor of kinesiology and health and nutrition at Georgia State University, you can boost your metabolism by working out harder and more often. This kicks in EPOC which is the acronym for post exercise oxygen consumption. You know you are raising your metabolism when doing a workout, but it also takes your body a while to re-cover from intense workouts so your metabolism can stay high for several hours afterwards. The downside of this is that the more in shape your body is the quicker energy stores are replaced so you have to keeping upping the ante so to speak on your exercise. One solution for this might be to do multiple exercise periods instead of one workout all at one time.

5. Supplements To Help Boost Your Metabolism
Eating fish such as salmon, herring, cod, and tuna can help boost your metabolism because they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which keep blood sugar levels stable and help regulate metabolism. There is also some evidence that omega-3 reduces resistance to a hormone that is active in fat burning. AFA bluegreen algae is also high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as being a protein source which can help with muscle building. A convenient way to get all the superfood nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae is in a convenient powder  form that can be added to a smoothie, juice, water or even sprinkled over foods. This powder has an even blend of two forms of AFA, with the cell wall and without, and supplies complex sugars, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Adding more enzymes to your diet between and at meals can also help boost your metabolism and help your body get the most nutrition it can out of the foods you eat. Probiotics help your body process and digest the foods you eat and move them through the digestive system. You can get all the advantages of an AFA bluegreen powder as well as probiotics, prebiotics, and enzymes in this algae powder supplement.

Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer and other health conditions. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and sleep can go a long way to keeping the weight down. As we get older though it gets harder to burn off extra calories. Try some of the metabolism boosting tips and see what works for you. Getting your metabolism to help burn off the extra calories your body isn't using for fuel will help keep your weight under control and improve your overall health.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of photostockFreeDigitalPhotos.net


Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Secret to Avoiding the Midday Slump

Most people do experience a slump in energy in the early afternoon. The body operates on a cycle called the circadian rhythm and early afternoon is a time the body tends to go into a resting phase. The problem this creates is that most of us can't just stop work or other obligations to go take a nap and let the body rest. A contributing factor to this slump is that it is usually right after lunch and what we eat can add to the drowsiness we experience. Grabbing a fast food lunch or foods with lots of carbohydrates and sugar only serves to add to the fatigue. Our age also plays a role as the older we are, the more fatigue is likely to set in. There are other factors that can attribute to the afternoon slump. Here are some and some natural energy boosters that can help.

Fatigue and the Pancreas
Your pancreas operates as part of the digestive and the endocrine systems. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes and secretions that contribute to the digestive process, once food enters the small intestine. As part of the endocrine system, it produces insulin that regulates how much sugar enters the blood. When we eat foods with lots of sugars and carbohydrates, our blood sugar levels increase and the pancreas has to produce more insulin. This causes a rise in tryptophan in the brain and the bloodstream. Tryptophan helps regulate serotonin and melatonin levels, which are neurotransmitters that affect mood by causing us to relax. Eating healthier alkalizing foods such as fruits and vegetables can reduce the workload on the pancreas and lower the amount of tryptophan being produced which can leave us more energy. Also, adding a high quality digestive enzyme supplement to your diet with meals can relieve the stress put on the pancreas, liver and spleen and help the body absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat. If you find you are still dragging, take extra enzymes in between meals.

Natural Energy Boosters: CoQ10
Coenzyme Q10 has been extensively studied since being discovered in 1957 and found to have significant benefits for cardiovascular health. Peter D. Mitchell won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1978 for discovering how important CoQ10 is for energy production. CoQ10 is essential for life to exist, as it is an integral part of energy production within every cell. In fact CoQ10 is necessary for 95% of the energy our bodies need. Having a lack of this vital coenzyme affects the amount of energy our bodies are able to produce. It is found naturally throughout the body, but as we age our ability to manufacture it is reduced. A stressful lifestyle can also deplete our natural supplies of CoQ10. One way to be sure of getting enough CoQ10 is through supplementation. I like this supplement that has Ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10 as well as reishi and oyster mushrooms, polyphenols from olives, and AFA bluegreen algae for extra superfood nutrition.

How To Boost Energy
Do you ever find yourself going for the coffee pot or a candy bar in the afternoon to keep alert and going? Caffeine has been found to interact with brain chemicals that create an energy boost, but caffeine and sugar can cause your blood sugar to plummet after an hour or two. Plus, caffeine can cause increased stress in your heart rate, respiration, muscle coordination, and thought processes if you drink too much. For some people, drinking coffee in the afternoon also interferes with being able to go to sleep at night. Here are a few other ways to deal with the midday slump period of the day.

Prioritize High Energy Tasks – It's too bad that our workplaces aren't more like kindergarten where an afternoon nap is mandatory, but since your boss probably isn't going to give you time off every day to grab a nap, you can plan your work according to which tasks need greater focus. Fred Turek, a biology professor and director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, suggests saving tasks that need accuracy and creativity for times other than the midday slump period. Planning out your workday to give those types of tasks the highest priority in the day and saving more routine type tasks for the after lunch slump can help you stay productive all day and keep the boss happy.

Move It – Physically moving your body is another way to make it through the midday slump period. This doesn't mean you have to stand at your desk and do calisthenics. You can simply go to the copy room to make your copies, walk to the water cooler to get a drink or go to a co-workers office to consult with them or anything else that requires you get up and move to another location.

Power Nap – If you have the time at the end of your lunch break to close your eyes and rest for even a few minutes, this can help some people. My mother has always been able to lie down and close her eyes for exactly 10 minutes and get up refreshed and ready to go on to the next thing on her list. For some people the amount of time may be more, but a 20 to 30 minute nap or rest is enough to recoup their energy level. For others, taking any amount of nap interferes with being able to go to sleep at night. Give it a try and see which type you are and if this is a technique that helps you or not.

Eat Energy Boosting Foods – Sugary and processed carb foods don't create a stable energy level throughout the day. The body simply burns these up too quickly. So skip the donuts and concentrate on complex carbs with fiber from whole grains and good healthy proteins. These will keep your blood sugar levels stable and sustain your energy level longer.

Supplement for Active People – I like this supplement that is a nutrient-rich, whole-food source for physical energy and drive. With a combination of AFA bluegreen algae, wheatgrass juice, cordyceps mushrooms, bee pollen, turmeric, noni, and green tea, it was created for high-performance athletes and those with active lifestyles.

I hope this gives you some ideas what causes that midday slump we often experience and of how to boost energy to get yourself through it. Try some of these out and see what works for you in your situation. If you've got other suggestions of things that work for you, share them by leaving a comment below. 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of David Castillo DominiciFreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Does Your Gut Have a Brain? Science Says "Yes"!

Science has shown that there is a strong connection between the gut and the brain. You know that emotions often produce a feeling in your gut if you think about anytime you had to give a speech in front of a group of people and felt the tingling butterfly sensation. This connection is a two-way one in that the brain can signal the gut to specific reactions and the gut can signal the brain. This is important to know if you have symptoms of intestinal problems because it could be that your problems are being caused by a signal from the brain that is the result of something like stress or it could be that physical gut symptoms or poor gut health are signaling the brain to create stress or anxiety. Which of these is occurring can make a difference in how these symptoms should be treated.

Stress Effects on the Gut
You probably know that stress can have many different negative effects on your health. In the case of your gut, it can interfere with digestive health and cause problems with normal digestion and if you have an intestinal disorder or disease, stress can cause symptoms to worsen. According to Kenneth Koch, MD, professor of medicine, gastroenterology section and medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., every part of your digestive system can be affected by stress. For example, did you know stress can interfere with the normal movement and contractions that happen in your gut? It can also cause the digestion process to stop or slow down by alerting the central nervous system to reduce blood flow and the secretions necessary for digestion. Stress can be responsible for symptoms that stem specifically from your gut such as cramps, diarrhea, and heartburn, leave you more vulnerable to infections and lead to inflammation in the gut. It can create spasms in the esophagus and an increase in stomach acid as well as affect the colon causing either constipation or diarrhea.

All of this is possible because the intestinal system is dependent on neurons and neurotransmitters and communicating with the central nervous system like the brain is. Since this gut-brain connection is so strong, often people with intestinal problems can find relief by dealing with their stress and anxiety. The reverse can also work for relief. If the gut problems stem from something in the diet such as a food sensitivity, removing that food from the diet can improve the mood and energy levels. There have been many studies showing an improvement in digestive health symptoms when participants used therapy techniques to deal with stress, get treatment for anxiety or for depression versus those that just received standard medical treatments. 

So how can you tell if stress or anxiety is the cause of your digestive health problems? Look to see if you have any of the physical, emotional or behavior symptoms associated with stress. This would include tense muscles, frequent headaches, problems sleeping, gaining weight or losing weight, problems focusing or concentrating on tasks or completing them, withdrawing from people, eating more (especially comfort type foods), being nervous, being more forgetful than usual, quick to anger or lose your temper, unable to relax, being over emotional, or feeling that you are under a lot of pressure. Ask yourself when your gut problems started and if there could have been extra stress entering your life at that point. If you feel that you are handling stress well and still have your symptoms, there may be another cause such as some type of food sensitivity. Going through an elimination diet to find what foods you are sensitive to may be useful.

Relieving Stress to Support Digestive Health
If stress is contributing to your gut problems, there are various ways to address it. There are the standard relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, listening to music, biofeedback and aromatherapy and if these work for you then great. It is a good idea to try a variety of techniques to find which one or ones work best for you. Here are a few to try.

Exercise – Being physically active causes the release of endorphins which are brain chemicals that are stress relievers. Start a program of moderate exercise regularly as one way of dealing with stress.

Talk it out – Some people are able to relieve stress by talking it out or venting. Having friends or family to talk to or a mental health specialist that can not only listen to your stress issues, but also lend guidance on ways to deal with stress may be helpful. One study done on people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome showed a significant improvement in symptoms for 70% of participants who underwent 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy. You might also find it helpful to talk to a spiritual or religious counselor or even get a life coach. If there are issues that you don't want to share with other people, then you can try journaling and get it all out on paper.

Get organized – With everything there is to do and cram into our busy lives it can sometimes help just to get organized. Make a list of everything you have to juggle on a regular basis and prioritize those things. It might be that setting up a system of where things are kept can help reduce stress. For example, are you trying to get out the door in the morning and can't seem to find your keys? Installing a hook near the door that you train yourself to always hang your keys on when you come home could help relieve that stressor. There may be things on the list to reconsider the priority of and let go of too. Possibly when you were single your house was always in immaculate order. Now that you have a family and are still trying to work full time there is laundry on the couch or you haven't vacuumed all week. Maybe it's time to consider what is really more important when you come home, spending time playing with your kids, cooking a family meal or vacuuming. Give yourself a break and don't put so much pressure on yourself to be able to do everything you used to do before life changes happened.

Supplement your diet – Whether you are dealing with a physical digestive system disorder or stress is the cause of your gut problem symptoms or you have a combination of both going on, there are diet changes that you can make. Start keeping a food/drink journal to discover if there are any particular foods or drinks that cause your symptoms to be worse. You can also do an elimination diet and stop eating certain foods that you think may be contributing and see if your symptoms improve. There are also supplements you can add to your diet that will help with your digestive health and can help you cope with stress. Taking high quality probiotic supplements such as acidophilus, bifidus, or a full spectrum probiotic supplement can help support your digestive health by supporting the friendly bacteria in your gut. One of your gut functions is producing B vitamins. B vitamins, especially B-12, help us relax, soothe our nerves and help us deal with stress. When we are stressed, we tend to use up our body's supply of B vitamins just when we need them most and need to replace them. Having healthy probiotics in your gut can give your body a boost to keep producing these vitamins and help your body cope with stress as well as support overall digestive system function and gut health.

Another supplement to consider adding to your diet is this one that contains a proprietary blend of three revered mushrooms, Lion's Mane, agarikon, and cordyceps, standardized American ginseng (Cereboost®), resveratrol, and AFA bluegreen algae. Here's what these ingredients have to contribute in terms of stress relief:

Resveratrol - a polyphenol with antioxidant properties found in the skin of red grapes, some berries like blueberries, some Chinese herbs, cocoa and peanuts and has been found helpful in increasing blood flow to the brain and with the antioxidant power to help reduce damage to the body caused by stress.

Lion's Mane - a mushroom that has been called "nature's nutrient for the neurons" due to NGF (nerve growth factor) being found in it and that has been found to stimulate nerve growth thus reducing the effects of stress and producing a natural calming effect.

American Ginseng - Chinese medicine has long used ginseng as a calming medicine, to restore balance and increase energy. American ginseng has been found to directly affect the adrenal glands where the adrenalin and cortisone stress hormones are made.

Cordyceps - a mushroom that has been found to work through the adrenal glands to help with reducing effects of chronic stress.

Stress can be a killer literally and the havoc it can wreak on our guts can make life miserable. Give some of these stress solutions a try and see if reducing your stress level has a positive effect on your gut symptoms. There can be relief from the symptoms you have and reducing stress is a good place to start because we can all benefit from stress reduction. Working with your healthcare provider to address your symptoms and reducing your stress may be the best thing you'll do for yourself this year.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of David Castillo DominiciFreeDigitalPhotos.net


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back to School Immune System Boosters

Yes, it is that time of year again when the stores are full of back to school supplies and it's time to start thinking about how healthy your child's immune system is. As Fall and Winter approach so does cold and flu season and having kids at school means more opportunities for them to catch germs and bring them home to the rest of the family.

A healthy immune system is designed to protect us from all those germs, but it doesn't always catch them all. Making sure your child follows a healthy lifestyle regimen is a good way to make sure his immune system is able to do the best job it can in preventing illnesses. That includes eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, getting regular exercise, and getting adequate amounts of sleep. To get your child ready for back to school, he may need a little extra of all these things to give his or her immune system a boost.

Here are some other natural ways to boost the immune system.

Load up on vitamin foods – According to Lexi Hagenson, licensed acupuncturist and nationally certified herbalist, Vitamin C can help boost the immune system. Incorporate foods such as grapefruit, goji berries, broccoli and bell peppers into your child's snacks and meals to help him or her get some extra Vitamin C. Vitamins work best when we get them from foods or whole food supplements instead of isolated synthetic vitamin supplements so go for foods rich in vitamins rather than a multi-vitamin supplement. If you have a picky eater and need to use supplements, look for ones with vitamins from whole food sources.

Keep your probiotics healthy – Probiotics are the "friendly bacteria" that live in our guts. We have over 500 types of bacteria that naturally live in our intestines to help with digestion and are part of the immune system. They also help with getting nutrients out of our foods for the body to use. B vitamins, vitamin K and folate are all delivered to the body this way and about 10% of our energy comes from the work these friendly bacteria do. There are also some bacteria that have specific functions within the immune system such as making more T cells. To show how probiotics can help boost the immune system, consider a study reported by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. This study showed 40% less colds and intestinal infections in New Zealand athletes studied when they took probiotics. Making sure you have a healthy supply of probiotics in your gut to fight off illness causing bacteria is one way to support a healthy immune system.

Using Kefir to make shakes or smoothies, giving yogurt for snacks, or using energy bars and cereals that have probiotics are one way to get more probiotics into your child's system. There are also yogurts you can buy made from rice, soy or coconut milk if you want to avoid dairy. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, Brewer's yeast and microalgae are other non-dairy sources. Just be sure to read food labels and look for products that say "live active cultures". Taking high quality probiotic supplements such as acidophilus, bifidus or a full-spectrum of probiotics is another way. This is especially important if your child has been on a round of antibiotics as they tend to kill off the good bacteria in the gut. You can also keep your natural probiotics healthy by including foods in the diet that are considered prebiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrate fibers called oligosaccharides. You can't digest oligosaccharides but your good bacteria can. Since you can't digest these fibers, they remain in your gut and feed the good bacteria living there. Oligosaccharides are found mostly in fruits, honey, onions, legumes, and whole grains. For instance, soybeans, oats, whole wheat, and barley all have oligosaccharides.

Herbs that may help – There are certain herbs that many people swear help keep them healthy during cold and flu season and there are some studies to support these claims. Whereas more research is warranted before many doctors or scientists are willing to endorse these claims, some of these herbs may help give your immune system a boost. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider to make sure these are safe for you or your child and compatible with any type of medicines or dietary restrictions you have. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Ginseng is one of the herbs that can give the immune system a boost. Other herbs that some find helpful for immune system health are echinacea, licorice root, astragalus, and elderberry.

Medicinal mushrooms for immune support – Chinese medicine has long used medicinal mushrooms for a variety of health reasons including boosting the immune system. Mushrooms from the forests are rich in antioxidants, beta glucans, enzymes, polyphenols, proteins, and triterpines and are among nature's most nutrient-dense foods. Mushrooms such as cordyceps, reishi, maitake, wild black trumpet, and Poria cocos are thought to be among the most powerful and beneficial foods on earth and can all be found in this whole food supplement  for a rich source of proteins and antioxidants. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms in particular have been found to stimulate macrophages which are a type of white blood cell that attack foreign invaders in the body. Beta Glucan derived from baker's yeast also has the ability to bind and stimulate macrophages and can be found in this mushroom/algae supplement along with reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms, astragalus and AFA bluegreen algae.

More support from the kitchen – A couple of other things worth mentioning when looking to boost the immune system are garlic and green tea. Green tea has lots of antioxidants that fight off free radical damage and support immune system health. Another benefit of green tea is that it stimulates the liver causing it to secrete interferon that can protect against infections.

Alliums are foods such as leeks, onions and garlic. Foods in this family are known to have natural antibiotic properties to help fight off germs. Allicin, found in garlic, is released when the garlic is crushed or chopped and has antibacterial and antifungal properties, has been found to improve immunity and has been found to be useful in fighting off colds. Some of the benefits are lost with cooking so wait to add garlic right at the end of a recipe. If you are on blood thinners, check with your healthcare provider before using garlic as it may not be compatible with your medication.

To get ready for the new school year, get those school supplies together and all the other school accessories, but don't forget about giving your child's immune system a boost. Keeping your child's immune system healthy will mean less school days lost due to sickness and lessen the chance of bringing those germs home to you.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of stockimagesFreeDigitalPhotos.net