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Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?

With the fall season comes a billion reasons to keep your immune system strong.

Wellness

Typically, this is the time of year when we hear the term "immune system" come up quite a bit. That's because, as the temperatures start to drop and the weather becomes more inclement as it relates to harsh winds, sleet and snow, it can start to take a toll on our health. Not to mention the fact that flu season (which usually runs between October thru April) is on the horizon as well.

Yet what actually does our immunity consist of? Well, white blood cells, antibodies, our lymphatic system, spleen, thymus and bone marrow all play a direct role in fighting off germs, viruses, bacteria and anything else that could cause us to catch an infection or get really sick. That's why, it's imperative that we never take our immune system for granted; that we do all that we can to keep it strong and healthy, so that it can combat anything that may try and come our way this fall and winter season. Are you ready to learn 10 relatively easy ways to do just that?

1. Up Your Vitamin C Intake

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Let's start with something that actually might be pretty obvious to most of y'all. The reason why I say that is because, probably ever since you were a little girl, your mama (or grandma or auntie) talked about how Vitamin C helps to fight colds. And she would be right.

Something that's interesting about this particular vitamin is your body is unable to produce it; this means that you need to either take it in supplement form or via your diet. It's important that you not skip out on getting Vitamin C into your system because it's an antioxidant that helps to build up your body's defenses, manages your blood pressure, helps to keep your iron levels balanced and, it also helps to increase your white blood cells so that your body is better equipped to fight off infections.

So, how much Vitamin C do you need? Around 90 mg a day is cool. If you feel a cold coming on, you can consume as much as 1,000-2,000 mg before side effects like diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramping set in. However, it should go on record that close-to-overdosing on Vitamin C, thinking that it will help you, doesn't really do much good. For one thing, you will urinate out what your system doesn't need and, it's not a vitamin that prevents the onset of a cold so much as it speeds up the recovery process once you already have one. As far as the foods that are high in Vitamin C—citrus fruits, broccoli, red and green peppers, tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes, berries and kale and spinach are just some that can give your body a healthy dose of this must-have nutrient.

2. Consume Whole Plant Foods

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If you want your immune system to remain uncompromised, you definitely need antioxidants; ones that are able to keep harmful pathogens (bacterium and viruses that trigger disease) at bay while also fighting off free radicals (which damage cells and even DNA) in the process. Something that is loaded with the antioxidants that you need in order to combat both of these health-related issues are whole plant foods. They're the kinds of fruits and vegetables that are considered "whole" because they include very minimal processing. While whole plant eating shouldn't be confused with veganism or vegetarianism, individuals who follow a whole plant diet, typically eat less meat in comparison to their produce intake.

By the way, if you especially make sure to eat fruits and veggies that are high in fiber, that can help to remove toxins out of your system while also providing your gut (which is where 80 percent of your immune system resides) with good bacteria. If eating more whole plant foods is what you're interested in doing, click here for a list of fruits and veggies that are in season during the fall and wintertime.

3. Lay Off of Grain-Based Foods

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While inflammation is a topic that deserves its own article, the short version is, it's a natural defense to an injury or illness. While a short-term amount of inflammation is OK, if your body remains in a high state of alert where inflammation-related chemicals continue to flow throughout your system, that can negatively impact your organs and tissues. And guess what can actually trigger an inflammatory response in your body? Grain-based foods. What exactly fits into this category? Bread, pasta, cereal, tortillas and even grits. Listen, I'm not saying you can't eat these things. All I'm saying is if you do and you start to feel a little less than great, cutting back on those types of things could prove to be beneficial. Try it and see.

4. Cook with More Garlic

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As far as natural remedies to fight off illnesses go, I'm not sure if there are too many things that top garlic. Since it's a plant that's a part of the Allium (onion) family, this means that garlic has its fair share of sulfur (33 sulfur compounds, to be exact); this is relevant because sulfur is proven to increase your body's resistance to viruses. Garlic is also high in the kind of antioxidants that reduce the amount of oxidative stress that your body produces. It also helps to detoxify heavy metals out of your system, lower your cholesterol levels and cut the time you're sitting with a cold or the flu by as much as 61 percent! Impressive indeed.

5. Drink Some Echinacea Tea

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The fall and winter seasons are definitely the time of year when a warm cup of tea (with honey) sounds pretty amazing. If you're trying to figure out which tea you should add to your collection, how about some echinacea? It's actually the kind of tea that is popular for both preventing and shortening the lifespan of a common cold. Plus, it's something that can help to increase the production of your white blood cells so that you are able to ward off infections before they set into your system. Just keep in mind that if you're someone who has an allergic reaction to any flower in the daisy family (ragweed, chrysanthemums, etc.), you might want to pass on this particular tip. Echinacea is a flowering plant that is a part of that family too.

6. Take Some Krill Oil

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If you're not familiar with what krill oil is, it's basically an oil that comes from animals like lobsters, crabs and krill (so, if you're allergic to shellfish, you should take a pass on this particular suggestion as well). It's an oil that is gaining traction in popularity because it's loaded with omega-3 fatty acids; in fact, it has a reputation for being more effective than fish oil (which is pretty bomb). The reason why it's a great way to boost your immunity is because krill oil fights bodily inflammation (which again, can lead to illness). As a bonus, krill oil is known to relieve PMS symptoms and soothe aching joints too. If this is something that you'd be interested in trying, click here to read a list of the best brands that are currently on the market.

7. Keep Some Clove Oil on Tap Too

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Listen, if you've got a toothache, something that will nip it in the bud is clove oil. I mean, I have never encountered something that will significantly reduce oral pain like it can. OK, but this is about building up your immune system, so let me stay focused. Because cloves contain very potent antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties, it's hailed as being an ultimate natural antiseptic. Whether you opt to put a couple of drops of the oil into your favorite tea to relieve nausea; mix it with a carrier oil like coconut or grapeseed, put it on a cotton ball and rub it on your forehead to open up your blood vessels and bring headache relief; you rub it on chest to break up congestion, or you cook with cloves to boost your immune system, cloves can bring immediate relief to cold-related symptoms in a way that few other all-natural remedies can. If you'd like to incorporate it more into your diet, apple butter, Blueberry Gluhwein (which is basically a fancy mulled wine) or Moroccan-Spiced Carrot Hummus are some creatively delicious DIY ways to get cloves into your system if they're not something that you're used to consuming on the regular.

8. Walk Outdoors 

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As it gets colder outside, sometimes we want to spend less time outdoors. But actually, it's during cold and flu season that you should be out more than usual.

Just because the temperature may be lower, that doesn't make the sun any less effective and Vitamin D is something that we are able to get directly from sunlight. The more Vitamin D you have in your system, the better you'll be at fighting off viral infections including the flu and even COVID-19. In fact, many people who are susceptible to illness are oftentimes lower in Vitamin D than they should be.

And what about the days when it's simply too chilly to step out? No problem. Open up our window treatments. The natural light can get into your house—and body—that way too. What about Vitamin D supplements? You can certainly take those, but it tends to be more effective (on the potency tip) to get your Vitamin D via Mother Nature. (By the way, foods that are high in Vitamin D include cheese, egg yolks, salmon, tuna and mushrooms.)

9. Have Sex

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If you follow my byline enough on this platform, you know that I'm gonna shout-out sex, just as much as I possibly can (check out "10 Things Couples Who (Consistently) Have Great Sex Do", "12 Absolutely Bomb Sex Techniques To Try Tonight" and "How About Having A 'Mindful Orgasm' Tonight?", for starters). The reason why sex makes the list for this article is because, believe it or not, it's another way to strengthen your immune system. For one thing, sex helps to increase the antibodies in your system that fight germs and viruses.

On the oral sex tip, check out "Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm" to learn how sperm is basically like the ultimate multi-vitamin. There are also studies that couples who engage in coitus, no less than 1-2 times a week, end up producing more Immunoglobulin A (IgA) than those who don't. What the heck is that? Long story short, it's an antibody that helps your mucous membranes to stay in peak condition so that you get sick less often. Not to mention the fact that sex helps to decrease stress levels; the less stressed you are, the stronger your immune system will be. This brings me to my final point.

10. Reduce Your Stress Levels

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If you want to make sure that you don't get sick in the upcoming months, you definitely need to do all that you can to prevent your stress levels from increasing. The reason why is because stress has the ability to literally suppress your immunity which makes you much more vulnerable to falling ill. So, make sure that you get no less than 6-8 hours of sleep, that you exercise at least 2-3 times a week, that you set healthy boundaries in your relationships, that you meditate, and that you drink lots of water (water helps to keep the natural stress hormone cortisol from elevating). And finally, chill out and relax. Do these things regularly, and it can help you to stay cold and flu-free and strengthen your immunity, from fall well through the spring.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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