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Want To Boost Your Family’s Immune System? Go With Your Gut!

Itʼs Monday morning, you are getting yourself ready for work, walking the dog, making breakfast, packing lunches, thinking about what to make for dinner that evening, as well as having at least 10 other thoughts running through your mind when one of your kids wakes up with a terrible cold. Thoughts change to, “Who will stay home from work to watch him or her?”, “What does my child need to feel better?”, “When will the next family member fall to this illness?”. Sound right? What if you could reduce the number of times this event occurs in your household? By strengthening your familyʼs immune system, the number of missed work and school days can be dramatically reduced. Save your paid time off and sick leave for something fun, like a vacation!

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Building the bodyʼs defense system is much easier than one may think. Here is an easy way to start:

Focus on Gut Health

At least 70% of the bodyʼs immune system lives in our digestive system. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance to keep our gut healthy if we want to experience less sick days. To do this, one has to focus on removing foods that donʼt agree with their body constitution, as well as any foods a person is sensitive or allergic to. Adding pre- and pro- biotic foods and supplements are a great way to feed the healthy gut flora we already have, as well as make more good bugs. Examples of these include:

• Non-dairy yogurt (no sugar added)
• Plain Yogurt (if you are not sensitive to dairy) • Kefir (non-dairy coconut is my favorite)
• Kombucha
• Raw, Unpasteurized sauerkraut
• Unpasteurized pickles!
• Probiotic supplements

Chinese Medicine also focuses on the importance of a healthy digestive system, as well as digestionʼs relationship to the lungs. Focusing on consuming a majority of your food cooked versus raw allows for the digestive system to not have to work as hard to break down food and turn it in to energy. This is especially important during the colder months of the year.

Reduce Stress

Stress has a huge impact on the immune system. Long-term stress causes more bad bugs to consume our digestive system leading to poor immunity.
When we are stressed the body releases a hormone called cortisol. An increase in bodily cortisol, over time, has been shown to decrease the bodyʼs defense system. Things that increase cortisol besides stress include, sleep deprivation, caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugar consumption.

While stressful situations are impossible to ignore completely, there are things you can do to help your body handle it more gracefully and reduce the number of times cortisol is being released. These things include:

• Mediation
• Breath work
• Acupuncture
• Massage Therapy
• Essential oils
• Homeopathy
• Yoga
• Light walks
• Dietary changes (i.e. reduce caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates)

With the never-ending “to do” list that can come with a busy life, taking care of yourself and family when sick with colds and flus shouldnʼt be one of them. Adopt healthy immune system habits now and impact your familyʼs health for life.

About the Author

View More: http://alycarroll.pass.us/stephanie Stephanie Braunwarth is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist with a special focus in womenʼs health, fertility and nutrition. Stephanieeducates her patients about the importance of treating the underlying cause of a health condition and encourages them to take an active role in their health.

Stephanie serves patients at Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic in Des Moines.

Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic

Random Goodness

It’s been a bit since I have posted so I have lots or randomness to share!

1. Iowa State Fair and Alan Jackson Concert

I went to the final day at the Iowa State Fair Sunday (kid-less and husband-less) and had so much fun! We spent most of our time at the Iowa Craft Beer tent, but we did leave to check out all of the award winning animals too. I tried the famous Shrimp Corn Dog which was amazing! I also got a cup of chocolate chip cookies, had some chili/cheese fries and an apple cookie. Needless to say I was NOT feeling well on Monday!

The Alan Jackson concert was also great! My cousin, Kristin and I saw Alan Jackson last year in Cedar Rapids. We decided to go see him again (maybe this will become a yearly tradition?!)  Gary Allan opened up for him, which I had never seen in concert and he was also great. Kristin and I had a lot of fun dancing and singing along. The night ended with an awesome fireworks display at the grandstand. Perfect way to end the 2013 Iowa State Fair.

2. I like Kombucha 

I have tried Kombucha several times and  have not been too impressed, but I was at Whole Foods the other day and decided to pick up another bottle.

Guava Goodness is the one that won me over! If you are not a fan of Kombucha yet, give Guava Goodness a chance because it yummy! It also gave me a boost of energy and is probably a bit healthier then another cup of coffee. I know there are health benefits of Kombucha, but not sure of them all. I also know it’s pretty easy to make. I definitely need to look into this further!

3. Pumpkin Apple Muffins 

Because of the cooler weather last week, I was getting super excited for fall stuff, BUT of course this week it has been between 90-100 degrees out again! URGH! Anyways, I made these Monday morning for my very special guests! They turned out great! You can find the original recipe here.

I made some alterations which you can follow below!


  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower Oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups apples, chopped

I omitted the streusel topping all together 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tin with paper liners
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the oil, maple syrup, milk, pumpkin, and vanilla to the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the hot water and the apples until evenly distributed.
  6. Spoon batter into muffins tins.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
  8. Remove to wire rack to cool.

4. My baby got his first haircut last week 🙁 

Yepp, his baby mullet is no longer!

He did an okay job at first sitting in the chair with his cape, but shortly got antsy. No screaming and crying though! Overall, we were pretty happy with the experience!

Doesn’t he look like such a big boy?!?

5. Go to Pier 1 Imports

One of my favorite places to shop is Pier 1 Imports. I love shopping for different decor items for the home. During the fall they always come out with some really cute things! It can be dangerous for me to go in there. Christmas is especially dangerous when they have all of their ornaments and all other sorts of Christmas goodness!

I signed up for their e-mail alerts and this week they sent me a coupon for $5 off $25 or more OR $10 off $40 or more! If you go to their website here, on the front page they have these coupons available for you too! They also have some great sales going on, so go get a head start on your fall and Halloween shopping NOW!

What do you know about Kombucha? What’s you favorite flavor?