Just because everybody else gets sick, doesn't mean you have to.

You know that time of year when every time you turn around in your office, someone else is sick?

I am all too familiar with that time of year, because I was always one of those sick people.

I blamed it on my circumstances. It’s close quarters! Seriously, if my neighbor sneezed, I felt the spray.  (Ok, that’s gross and never happened, but it paints a picture.)

Once upon a time, I knew that, as soon as someone got sick, it was coming for me—like the time I woke up with strep throat that was so bad I landed myself in the emergency room. There I was, a grown woman in tears over a sore throat. As if my misery wasn’t enough, I missed an entire week of work.

What I didn’t realize, was that it didn’t have to be that way.

The problem wasn’t everyone getting sick around me, the problem was my immune system was weak.

I was fueling myself on refined carbs and candy and, as it turns out, the immune system doesn’t really function that way.

My inner science nerd is coming out to play, so stay with me.

We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Our immune system decides whether or not these organisms lead to disease ... When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice the festival of germs. But when we have an under or overactive immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions.

Getting sick isn’t the only thing you’ll get when you’re immune system is weak.

Low energy, gaining or holding onto weight, blood sugar imbalances, sporadic irritability, mild inflammation (e.g. knee or back pain) and digestive issues can all be signs of a weakened immune system.

I want you to be energetic and thin and forever free of strep throats and common colds—really all illness in general. If I could send you a magic pill to handle all that, I would. But I can’t.

What I can do is give you three really simple suggestions that can lead to dramatic improvements in your immunity and you may find added benefits like energy, weight loss and smooth digestion as an added bonus.

Remove toxic foods from your diet.

Toxic seems like such a dramatic word, but the reality is that our grocery stores and favorite restaurants serve up food that’s even more damaging than it is delicious—things like sugars and sweeteners, processed foods and hydrogenated oils make your body work really hard and when it’s working hard to get rid of toxins, it isn’t working hard to keep you healthy.

Add probiotic rich food to your diet.

Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients, detoxify your colon and balance out and support your immune system. You’ll find probiotics in fermented vegetables, fermented dairy and kombucha.

For some people fermented foods are an acquired taste, but start with a tiny bit—it can go a long way. And there’s no harm in teaching those old taste buds new, healthier, tricks.

Sleep.

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Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus (e.g. the common cold).  Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

During sleep, your immune system releases proteins that attack inflammation and infection. If you’re missing out on sleep, you’re missing out on producing those healing proteins. Not to mention, if you’re not sleeping enough, your body probably isn’t producing enough antibodies— and those are the things that keep you healthy in the first place.

So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.

Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of good sleep each night.