25 Oct 2017
Even though we are having an incredibly warm and sunny autumn so far, the calendar is telling me that the cold and flu season is just around the corner. Naturally, none of us wants to get sick, so it’s important now more than ever to take care of ourselves and fortify our bodies to protect them from the onslaught of germs. The stronger the immune system, the healthier we will be.
How can we do this?
Start with good nutrition.
- Eat a diet based on whole foods in all the colors of the rainbow, eliminating as much processed food as possible. Whole foods are foods that are as close to their original form as possible, nothing processed.
- Include a wide variety of these foods in our diet. Don’t eat the same thing every day. Even if your favorite meal is incredibly nutritious, if you eat it on a daily basis, you are only exposing your body to the nutrients those specific foods contain. There is a whole world of nutrients out there and we need to get as many as we can into our bodies.
- Focus on what is in season right now. These fruits and vegetables include many of the nutrients that our bodies need to stay strong, especially vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.
- The minerals that we want to emphasize for immune strength include zinc, copper, selenium, and iron.
- Which foods are we talking about here? Wild caught fish, grass fed beef, organic poultry, organic eggs, organic dark leafy greens, organic winter squash, organic cruciferous vegetables, organic root vegetables, organic onions and garlic, healthy fats, apples, pears, ginger, and turmeric are tops on the list.
A strong immune system needs more than just a healthy diet. Managing stress is key.
Here are some suggestions:
- Make sure to get enough rest. Lack of sleep lowers our immunity. According to the Mayo Clinic, when we sleep, our immune system releases cytokines, which have various functions in the body. Some of these protein molecules work to fight infection and inflammation, but if we are sleep deprived, then our bodies can’t make enough of them. If we don’t have an adequate supply of cytokines, the immune system can’t do its job effectively. People who don’t get enough rest also take longer to recuperate when they do get sick.
- Do some deep breathing exercises and/or meditate. This article from Mindful.org explains how meditation can improve our immune response. For those of you who don’t think that you can sit still and quiet your brain, remember that the brain can be taught new tricks. You can start with just a few minutes and as you get used to this regimen, gradually increase the amount of time you spend.
- Get some physical exercise. Movement is one of the greatest stress relievers. If you don’t currently exercise, make sure to check with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen.
- Have some fun and see your friends.
- Lastly, clean up your environment. Keep your hands away from your face. Carry a hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently. Wipe off gym mats and machines both before and after using them. Wipe the handle of the shopping cart. Wash your hands as soon as you walk into your home. Be aware of who is around you.
My absolute go-to option whenever I am around anyone who has a cold or if I even think that I may have been exposed to a virus or might be coming down with something, is to have a cup of ginger tea. I find it works miracles.