I am sure you are like me and you want to do everything you possibly can to avoid getting sick at any time of the year. Of course, these cold winter months bring on more unfortunate opportunities to get blasted with being sick.
Doing these 10 things regularly, will help you create a healthy foundation so that you can either avoid getting sick or minimize the severity and length of time something will get you down.
- Wash Your Hands Regularly and Very, Very Thoroughly
This is going to be one of your best defenses against any cold, upper respiratory infection or the flu. It is really important to not rush through doing this. Make sure to completely wash your hands with warm/hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching anywhere on your face unless you have clean hands. Try to stop using antibacterial soap if possible. Just like in the gut, the skin is a host to many microorganisms (good and bad). It’s important to know that antibacterial soap doesn’t just kill some of the bad bacteria it will also get rid of the good bacteria. The good bacteria on the skin works to keep you healthy because it communicates with the immune system. The beneficial/good bacteria can alert the immune system when something is wrong so that it can take the appropriate action.
- Reduce Your Sugar Intake (A good tip at all times)
I know this is a lot easier said than done especially during Holidays and different times of celebration. It really is worth the effort to create that strong, healthy foundation. When your diet is high in sugar (sugar is present in almost all processed foods in some way or another – it has many names), your immune system becomes suppressed. When your immune system isn’t working at an optimal level, you can bet it will be that much harder once you do get sick to beat it. When there is too much sugar in your diet it can lead to infections in the gut such as SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and Candida. These will also affect your immune system in a negative and unsupportive way. Strive to consume more whole foods and far less processed food.
- Fix Your Gut
Did you know that about 75% of your immune system resides in your gut? That’s a big number. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to keep your gut healthy. Your gut truly is the pathway to a healthy mind and body. Eating probiotic (fermented foods like Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso, Tempeh, Kombucha, Pickles and Natto) and prebiotic(Chicory Root, Dandelion Greens, Jerusalem Artichokes, Onions, Garlic, Asparagus,Leeks, Barley, Bananas, Apples, Oats, Burdock Root, Cocoa, Jicama and Yacon Root, Flaxseeds, Sea Vegetables and Wheat Bran) foods can be very supportive to gut health because it will help to make sure the good gut bacteria are at an appropriate level. This will help your body fight off any illness threatening to run you down. NOTE: Prebiotic foods contain fiber, which feed the friendly bacteria. However, those with SIBO or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may want to avoid consuming prebiotic foods, as they can be irritating.
- Drink Bone Broth
When I was little, any time I started to get sick, my mom served me chicken soup. Your immune system will benefit greatly from bone broth. Bone broth has been shown to reduce inflammation due to the amino acids it contains such as glycine and proline. Bone broth contains collagen, which can assist in repairing the gut lining. It is a great resource to improve the amount your body can heal and recover from being sick.
- Minimize Your Stress
Chronic stress has been shown to suppress the immune system. Regular self-care, yoga, hot baths (add 1-2 cups Epsom salts so your body can absorb the magnesium to help calm your muscles and around 10 drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil to relax your mind), relaxation techniques such as massage and meditation can help to keep you more Zen.
- Get at Least 7-8 Hours of QUALITY Sleep Each Night
All your hormones reset when you sleep. If you are not getting enough quality sleep at night, your cortisol (your stress hormone) levels will remain elevated. When cortisol is raised, the other hormones will be out of balance. When your stress hormone is high, your body only focuses on dealing with that. All other bodily functions take a back seat until that cortisol is reduced to a normal level. Think metabolism and digestion. Have you ever noticed how your hunger seems to be off after a not so great night of sleep?
- Eat Foods High in Antioxidants
They are great immune system boosters. Antioxidant rich foods are wonderful at protecting cells from free radical damage. Try to up your daily/weekly intake of food high in antioxidants. These are foods such as red berries, blueberries, purple and red grapes, nuts, dark green vegetables, sweet potatoes and green tea.
- Exercise Regularly and Often
Exercise is great for your mind and your body! It will help to boost your immune system because it increases circulation. When your circulation is improved, it allows your antibodies to move through the bloodstream at a quicker pace. This is a great support to help your immune system fight against illness. Exercise is a great stress reducer as well. Have you ever noticed that you even sleep better when you exercise?
- Drink Your Water
Make sure that you consume the right amount of water for your body (take your body weight and reduce by ½. That is the amount in ounces that will be ideal for you to drink daily). When your body is properly hydrated it allows your throat to stay moist and it helps loosen mucus. When your nose and eyes are dry, it can make it harder for your body to catch and sweep away viruses.
- 10. Make Sure to Consume Foods Rich in Vitamins Cand E
These are very supportive to the immune system. Foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds and organic peanuts are rich in vitamin E. Foods such as oranges, broccoli, green peppers and citrus fruits are high in vitamin C.
Always listen to your body! Make sure to give it what will support it as often as possible. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor and find out if you can test for any vitamin or mineral deficiencies you might be suffering from. Your doctor is your best resource to guide you to know what supplements you might benefit from in addition to eating a balanced diet.
To your health!