Wintertime coughs, colds and flu…no one wants them, but many of us still get them! Guess what?? You do not have to! Start taking steps today to protect your body, strengthen defenses and get it ready for the season. By making smart food, supplement and lifestyle choices NOW, you will boost immunity, giving your body exactly what it needs to stay well till we thaw out in the Spring.
Eat for Immunity
1. Eat Your Greens
Dark leafy greens are loaded with energy-boosting phytonutrients that feed the good belly bacteria responsible for keeping your immune system strong and well-equipped to repel debilitating winter bugs. To get more leafs on your plate, make room for greens at every meal. Add spinach into your breakfast smoothie, toss chopped kale into egg dishes, bulk up lunches with big side salads, and add steamed greens to soups, stews and sauces. Think of each meal as an opportunity feed your good gut bacteria!
2. Drink Your Greens
Work in an office where everyone’s got the sniffles? Then keep a supply of high quality greens powder in your fridge, and mix up a green drink to sip instead of coffee to keep energy levels high. You can also add greens powder into your morning protein shake to start the day fully fortified.
3. Add Garlic
Roasted or raw, garlic is loaded with anti-viral, antibacterial and antifungal substances that help strengthen your body’s defenses against the bugs of winter. Though raw garlic packs a slightly more powerful nutritional punch, roasted garlic can be the more delectable way to enjoy those immunity-enhancing compounds!
Feed your good gut bacteria by adding fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi to your diet. Fermented foods contain healthy, friendly bacteria (probiotics) that help keep gut flora balanced and immunity high. As the gut is home to roughly 70% of your immune system, one that’s well fed and well balanced will be less vulnerable to every sniffle.
5. Healthy Fats
Adding coconut oil to your diet is a great way to get a daily dose of lauric acid, which boosts your immune system. Try cooking with coconut oil, or add it to your morning smoothie, lunchtime soup or cup of tea. Dont be freaked out by the fat. The body quickly converts coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids into ready-to-burn energy.
6. Ditch the Sugar
Sugar dramatically decreases immune function by killing your gut’s good bacteria while it feeds the bad! End result? A gut that’s out of balance, with the bad guys in control and bacterial defenses weakened leaves you with an immune system poorly equipped to fight off this seasons yucky bugs. Put down the sweet stuff to keep gut defenses strong.
7. Quit eating processed Foods
They weaken the immune system! Most processed foods are nutritionally deficient and packed full of sugar that they over-feed the bad gut bacteria and starve good.
Supplement for Immunity
We always say that supplements won’t undo the effects of a bad diet, but they can maximize the benefits of a good one. Eat for optimal nutrition and consider adding a few key supplements to your winter immunity plan:
1. Power Up With a Probiotic
To help the immune system repel invaders, fortify your good bacteria with a daily probiotic, in capsule or powder form. Look for one that contains at least 10-20 billion viable organisms, and several types of good bacteria, including lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, two of the most well-researched and commonly used types of healthy bacteria.
2. Do Take Vitamin D
Adequate levels of Vitamin D are essential for optimal immune function, and several studies have shown D to be an effective flu fighter. With wintertime sunshine not exactly abundant in these parts, it is helpful to boost your levels by taking a Vitamin D3 supplement. How much do you need? It varies from person to person, so it’s important to have your health care provider check your levels
3. Become Familiar with the Power of Herbs
Antiviral herbs contain thousands of medicinal compounds that attack viruses. Our favorite antivirals are olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract and elderberry extract. Use one or several in combination as a prophylactic measure, especially if you spend time in high germ traffic areas such as airports and offices. Another herbal to have in your immunity around: oil of oregano. It’s anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and is great for boosting the immune system. If you feel something coming on, add a drop in a glass of water – it can work wonders!
4. Add this Nutrient
Our favorite supplement to boost immunity is glutathione, the single most powerful antioxidant produced naturally in the body. But our body’s natural production drops by roughly 10% per decade, so as we age, our need for supplementation increases. There are many options when it comes to purchasing and taking glutathione. If you need help finding one that is bioavailable or starting an amino acid regimen to give your body the building blocks, please call the office to make an appointment.
Change your lifestyle for immunity
Staying well goes hand-in-hand with treating your body well, so in winter, give it a little extra TLC by attending to the fundamentals of good health:
During cold and flu season, being run-down compromises immunity, making it easier for opportunistic viral infections to take hold. A strong immune system is one that’s had enough time to restore and repair itself while the rest of you snoozes – so don’t skimp. Shoot for 7 – 8 hours a night and when sleep’s elusive, don’t reach for a prescription.
2. Move it
Adequate exercise helps keep the immune system robust, so keep moving throughout the winter (but don’t overdo it which can overtax your system). By staying active, you’ll also keep weight, stress and winter blues at bay – all of which will contribute to overall well-being as well as the health of your immune system.
3. Rest and Relax
Remember to dial down stress, particularly during flu season. Set aside at least a few minutes every day. Meditation, breathing exercises and yoga, massage, a few minutes in a sauna, or even reading are all great ways to release tension, boost immunity and enhance physical and mental health.
4. Clean up without the Chemicals
Ditch antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. They are loaded with toxins that over-dry and crack the skin, creating perfect conditions for viral transmission. Instead, wash hands with the classics – hot water and chemical-free soap, or try a few drops of lavender essential oil to naturally sanitize hands.
5. Stay Hydrated
Hours spent sitting in overheated homes and offices can dry out the nose, mouth and lips, all of which need moisture to help protect against viral invaders. Fight back by drinking water throughout the day.
Stay well this winter with these tips and as always, we are here to help! 574-330-0464 to schedule.