This time of the year is a great time for reflection for the many great things in our lives. One of the things I am grateful for is the opportunity to work with so many wonderful individuals and be a part of their health care team.

I am also extremely thankful for my health. Jenice and I have traveled and taught a ton this year and have a lot more scheduled for the upcoming year. It is imperative that we keep our energy high and optimize our health so we can maintain this rigorous travel schedule and fight off the germs we encounter in planes, airports, and foreign countries.

One of the most important strategies we use to keep our immune system functioning well is to keep our gastrointestinal (GI) system healthy. Maintaining the ratio between healthy and unhealthy bacteria in your GI tract is essential to having a healthy immune system and an important part of avoiding colds and flu. In fact neither Jenice or I have had the flu for the past 5 years and I have only had one cold the past 3 years. And neither of us has gotten the flu shot and/or taken antibiotics for over 15 years.

Much of this has to do with our gut health. Maintaining your gut health is the simplest thing you can do to boost your immunity and improve your overall health. Antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in your gut and a diet filled with processed food increases the number of bad bacteria.

However, the great news is there are many easy ways to increase the good bacteria in your GI system. Be sure to use a variety of them as part of your daily nutritional program.

  • Probiotics – take on an empty stomach first thing in the morning 30 minutes prior to eating
  • Fermented vegetables including cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, etc. – usually you can find them in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. Kimchi is another great source of fermented vegetables.
  • Fermented beverages including Kefir (fermented milk) and tea. My current favorite fermented tea beverage is from Kevita Tonics. Jenice and I drink at least one bottle per day.

Another thing that will help boost your immune system is to eat a ton of vegetables. Increasing your vegetable intake will increase your daily fiber intake, provide micronutrients required for health, and fill you up thereby reducing calories consumed by other types of calorie-dense carbohydrates.

It is important to be consistent and to get a variety of good bacteria in your daily diet. It has never been easier to get a variety of these good bacteria and you will be surprised at how different you will feel when you begin incorporating them into your regular program.