It’s that time of year. It seems like everyone around is sick with a Cold or the Flu. Some people try their best to stay healthy and hope they don’t catch whatever is going around, and others almost expect that they will get hit with their yearly bout of Bronchitis or Flu. You don’t have to feel like illness is lurking or that you are destined to be sick every winter. There are a few simple and effective ways you can boost your immune system to stay healthy this and every year.
Since 80% of our immune system is in our gut, eating healthy foods can make all the difference in keeping you free from Colds and Flu. It’s good to remove refined sugars, carbohydrates and most dairy from your diet that can suppress the immune system and add in some nutrient-rich foods that boost the immune system. Greens like Spinach or Broccoli are both high in Vitamin C. Antioxidant-rich berries like Blueberries or Acai Berries. Anti-inflammatory and antiviral Ginger, Garlic or Turmeric. Vitamin D rich foods like Mushrooms or Wild-Caught Salmon and fermented food that can add good bacteria to your gut like Kefir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut. If adding all these foods seems overwhelming a simple daily smoothie with greens, berries, ginger, and Kefir will help get you started.
There are so many wonderful supplements that can keep your body healthy. It’s tough to narrow it down to just a few, but here are some of my favorites for preventing winter illness:
Elderberry-Taken daily as a preventative, Elderberry Syrup or Elderberry Tinctures can help to not only prevent Colds and Flu with its high number of antioxidants and Vitamin C, it can also help you get better faster if you do get sick. Studies show up to 4-days faster! Elderberry is an immune booster and can stop the replication of viruses in the body. Elderberry is a great Herb for most people however babies under the age of 1 and people with Autoimmune conditions should not consume Elderberry Syrup.
Vitamin D-Essential for a healthy immune system, we typically get vitamin D from the sun, but most people just don’t get to spend enough time in the sunshine at peak hours where the sun is giving off the best amount of vitamin D. There’s a simple app that I love to use that lets you know the best time of day to catch a few rays and tracks the amount of vitamin D you will be getting from the sun. Supplementing with Vitamin D can also be a good option. Look for a supplement with Vitamin D3 as Cholecalciferol combined with K2. 5000 IU’s are usually enough. However, check with your doctor for proper dosing for your body and age.
Vitamin C-Many people take Vitamin C when they are sick, but it is great to take as a preventative as well. Food-based sources of Vitamin C are typically the best. I love to add Camu Camu powder to my daily smoothie. It is packed with more Vitamin C and than any other food! In a supplement form, Liposomal Vitamin C is a good choice as it is easier for your body to use and easily gets into your cells to prevent bad viruses from entering. It can also prevent digestive upset that often occurs with other sources of Vitamin C.
Probiotics-Because so much of our immune system is in our gut, arming our stomach and intestines with good bacteria is important. Building an army of these good guys helps to fight off bad viruses and germs that try to come in and take over. Probiotics come in many forms. A simple dairy-free, multiple strain probiotic with prebiotic should help to keep your gut/immune system healthy. I like to suggest with 10-15 billion and add additional for someone that may have recently been on Antibiotics.
Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways and helps to build white blood cells helping you to stay healthy. Sweating can also help to flush toxins from the body which will keep you healthy. Find an exercise you can enjoy several times a week. It can be as easy as walking, yoga or riding a bike. Just enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.
A good night’s sleep is essential to keeping your immune system healthy. While we rest, our body is hard at work repairing, detoxifying and building new cells. Without sleep, our body can become stressed and depleted causing illness and even disease. 7-8 hours of sleep each night should be a priority and just as important as the things that you do for your body during the day to stay healthy. If you have trouble getting a full night’s sleep, there are many relaxation techniques and herbs that can help you. If you have more complex sleeping issues see your Dr. as sleep is vital to keeping your body healthy.
Reducing stress can help keep you healthy! Chronic stress can lead to inflammation, illness, and disease. Simple things like breathing techniques, meditation or yoga can help. Sometimes this may not be enough if stress is particularly high. In this case, there are some great stress lowering herbs called adaptogens that can help balance moods and lower stress in the body. Vitamin B is another great supplement that can help.
Winter colds and flu don’t have to sneak up on you! Incorporating these tips into your daily routine can help to keep your body healthy and strong all year long.
Peace, Love & Wellness,