When I was in high school, if you liked dance, gymnastics, boys and football, you might have tried out to be a cheerleader or booster to support our team, the Midwood Hornets. OK, let’s travel back in time to observe the predilections of 15 year-old Nadine. Dance? Check! Gymnastics? Check!! Boys? Checkity-check!!! Football??? Ummm...not so much. In approximately 30 years of Nadine, not a lot has changed, but what has changed is that almost three years ago I decided to become a cheerleader and booster anyway, despite my disinterest in football. As a health coach (and a newly minted hydrocolonic therapist), I cheer my clients on at the sidelines as they glow with greater health and happiness. I help them boost their nutrition to new heights. Pom poms and wearing short skirts in cold weather are optional, but not required.

So, speaking of my days in high school as a non-cheerleader, it is, in fact, the hectic back-to-school season. In case you haven't noticed, the PTA wants your cash. Halloween candy is lining the store shelves. The days are gradually getting shorter and chillier. Soon cold and flu season will be upon us. Can we keep our bodies healthy through the fall and winter even when those around us are sick? Yes!!!!

People often ask me how they can heal from or prevent specific diseases. Sure, they’d like to avoid colds and flu, but concerns about excess weight, autoimmunity, diabetes type 2, heart health and cancer are what’s front and center in their minds. The truth of the matter is there’s really only one underlying disease - one root cause of all of the above conditions - and that’s inflammation toxicity. Every single chronic disease that you can name arises from it.

Now, the other crucial point to understand when it comes to human health is that most of us are harboring stealth viruses in our bodies. It’s unavoidable. However, you won’t necessarily find them in the bloodstream if you test for them. At first, when you’re newly infected they’re in the bloodstream, but eventually they multiply and lodge in the organs, or in many cases, in the central nervous system where they are safe from detection and attack by the body’s immune system. The viruses create inflammation toxicity because, like all living things, they eat, they produce gas and wastes, they reproduce and then they die which leaves behind viral casings (sometimes mistaken by hematologists for parasites when observed under a microscope). During the viral life cycle, viral byproducts and neurotoxins are released which create inflammation. It’s important to note that viruses also feed and get stronger from the toxins they produce, so it’s a vicious, ongoing cycle. Bacteria and parasites are alive too, and much like viruses, they produce their own toxins that can create inflammation. If our bodies provide the ideal terrain for these pathogens to flourish (often in the gut and the colon’s stored waste), we are susceptible to illness.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves? We can boost the immune system and make our bodies inhospitable terrain for disease-causing pathogens! It’s the single most important thing we can do for our precious human bodies. A healthy body can keep viruses in check. Get your body into finer shape from the inside out so that stealth viruses do not get a strong foothold and overtake the immune system. Do not strive for perfection in your efforts to improve your health. Simply strive for progress, and embrace the occasional backslide.

Some of the viruses our immune systems are up against are various forms of herpes including Epstein Barr, shingles (with non-rashing varieties being the worst in terms of inflammation to the central nervous system), cytomegalovirus, and non-herpes viruses such as bovine leukemia virus (which is a cancer-causing virus found in dairy and undercooked - even medium-rare- meat. Incidentally, 80% of small dairy farms and 100% of large dairy farms were found to be infected by this virus when tested in 2007). Not all of these viruses will present in your body with noticeable symptoms at the time of infection. A recent statistic suggested that 98% of cancers are caused by a virus that gets activated or reawakened by a trigger - usually exposure to toxins, radiation, heavy metals, DDT passed on to us through our genes, and believe it or not, even root canal can be a trigger for cancer and other chronic conditions.

Some simple advice to boost the immune system: eat the right foods, re-balance the adrenals, SLEEP, consider biological dentistry, live in harmony with your body by inviting pleasure and stress reduction into your life, and detox from heavy metals, radiation, DDT and toxins with safe and effective protocols. Particularly if you are detoxing, you might want to get a colonic to remove the pathogenic load that is awakened in your cells as a result of cleansing diets. Otherwise your body will simply re-absorb most of the awakened toxins. Keep in mind that viruses love to hang out and feed on your waste. You have approximately 10 lbs of it in your colon at any given moment, including this moment, and more of it in your cells, even if you have regular bowel movements. Don’t feed those nasty pathogens. That’s what ages you and can eventually create the perfect conditions for disease down the road. Take out the trash instead!

I’m going to let you in on a little life-preserving secret: unprocessed, whole and wild/perennial foods from the earth are nature’s perfect medicine. There are a wide variety of immune-enhancing, superhero foods out there that you’ve likely not heard of, let alone tasted, as well as a few key supplements that will boost immunity beyond belief. Ideally, though, you should be able to rely mostly on food to keep your body humming along vibrantly. (For those readers who have been my clients in the past, please know that I am constantly and passionately researching all things health and wellness and continue to learn even more effective ways to boost immunity and cultivate a balanced gut microbiome).

If your body has hosted a disease, it can also heal from it. Be gentle and patient, but steadily persevere with small but incremental steps toward improved health. It has taken me ten years to really clean up my diet and it will never be perfect. Perfect is a myth. The efforts I make on behalf of my body feel good right now. However, my process is not static. It will continue to change and evolve as I do. (Though allow me to reassure you that some of my favorites, including fresh green juice, whole fruits and vegetables and gorgeous craft chocolate, are here to stay)

Lifestyle is every bit as important as nutrition when it comes to protecting your health. Lowering stress levels is a TOP priority. This is hard, I know, but self-care has to be of paramount importance. Here's why: the cortisol slope is the biggest predictor of death. Enough said. (The cortisol slope leads to compromised immune function because guess what a favored food of viruses is? Yup, you guessed it: adrenaline and cortisol).

Remember, you are a healthy, happy and strong human being already. This is your true nature. In this beautiful new fall season that’s upon us, connect to the harmony and health that is your birthright. You can do it through proper nutrition, through mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation, and through a patient commitment and love for your awesome body! Slow and steady wins the race. And guess what? You can be your own immune system’s tireless champion and cheerleader. All you have to do is to show up to practice every single day. Let's raise our shot glasses of liquid chlorophyll in a toast to your health! Then, pom poms in hand, we can channel our inner cheerleaders and give this a whirl:

Go collards!

Go berries!

Go parsley!

Go cherries!

Buy dulse!

Drink aloe!

Eat kale!

You’re lit, bro!

Somehow, I’m not sure the Midwood Hornets would have appreciated such support, but if it speaks to you, dear reader, rest assured that this cheerleader has at least a hundred more chants up her sleeve! anthem that can unite us all!