We are moving into cold/flu season but that doesn’t mean YOU have to get sick! There are many ways you can prevent illness by strengthening your immune system. The best way to stay in optimal health is to maintain a healthy immune system. Whenever the weather turns cold, doors close, heat goes on, germs spread more easily and people are in closer spaces making it more common to get sick in fall/winter.
The following are easy, natural suggestions that will help your immune system stay strong and give you a little more peace of mind:
1. Manage stress—we all have stress and it is essential to life. It pushes us and keeps us from harming ourselves (think hand on hot stove). However, too much stress without downtime to rest and digest leads to exhaustion of all systems of the body. In fact, it has been said that 100% of all dis-ease in the body can be linked back to stress. Go to bed a little earlier. Laugh. Do something you enjoy each day to recharge.
2. Stay at home while you or your child(ren) are sick. This will allow your immune system the chance to recover and fight back. Being around others puts them at risk.
3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water throughout the day, counting to 20 each time. Ensure you scrub around cuticles and under nail beds for germ-infested areas!
4. Some of the best defenses come from the kitchen! Boost yourself with soups, vegetables and fruits. Chicken or miso soup is highly nutritious as well as Vitamin C and Zinc. Reduce the consumption of sugar laden foods. Other nutrients and foods that are great are: Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Bioflavenoids, Garlic, Selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Also, eating “hot” foods during colds such as chili peppers, hot mustards, radishes, onions, etc contain substances called mucolytics that liquefy thick mucus to make breathing easier and coughs more productive.;
5. Eliminate sugar and allergens from your diet. Just small amounts of sugar has been proven to impair white blood cells up to 50% for very short periods of time. Think of how you feel when you eat a ton of sugar—blech right?
6. Eliminate or reduce exposure to dangerous toxins in your environment—air pollution, smoking, “traditional” harmful cleaning products contain toxic and poisonous chemicals that are harmful to your health. By reducing your exposure, you save the impact on your immunity for attacking illness and protect the lung capacity.
7. Human breastmilk—for your baby! It is rich in antibodies to protect an infant with a developing immune system. If you are breastfeeding your child, do not wean him/her in the winter.
8. Regular or moderate exercise helps to rid the lungs of certain types of airborne bacteria and viruses linked to common upper respiratory tract infections, including carcinogens and waste output. Not to mention the detoxification through sweating and endorphin boost!
9. Receive CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine) such as massage, chiropractic, reflexology, acupuncture, biofeedback, energy work, etc. These all boost immune and relaxation responses.
10. Think healthy—when you think well, you feel well. If you have the mindset “I get three colds every year” You probably do. Recommended reading: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.
11. Misc: ask a naturopathic doctor to check your Vitamin D levels and supplement. Choose a fish oil with high levels of DHA. Immune boosting herbs such as Elderberry/Echinacea have been shown to be effective in prevention as well as in treatment of colds and flu.
12. Essential oils that boost immunity: Tea Tree, Ravensara, Rosemary, Pine, Black Spruce and Geranium. The last four are antibacterial/antimicrobial like the first two, but have the added benefit of stimulating the adrenal glands and spleen to promote the flushing of toxins. They can be used in a massage oil, in the bath or shower (as a vapor), or in an aromatherapy diffuser.
And remember to drink lots of green tea, water and of course Aveda Comforting Tea!