We all know how sickness is prevalent during the winter.
But it’s not actually the cold weather that causes us to get sick. Instead it’s often our compromised immune systems due to the way we eat and live during these months, which is actually great news because you are not a victim! There are things you can do to take care of yourself and reduce your chances of catching what’s going around. And if you still catch it (because it still happens sometimes—especially if you have school aged children), you can do things to lessen the time you spend fighting it off. You can be empowered, informed and energetic, the biggest supporter of your own health!
1. Take a multi-vitamin
Supplements are just that, supplemental. They are not a replacement for good nutrition and I am a big proponent of getting all the good stuff your body needs from your food. But a quality multi-vitamin is also wonderful for this time of year when fresh produce can be harder to find and the opportunities to indulge in heavier foods with less nutritional content are abundant.
And remember, all supplements are not created equal. It’s important to buy high quality supplements from a reputable source. Many of the mainstream brands you find at your grocery or drug store are fairly to completely ineffective at absorbing into your system. Things to look for are: water soluble, food based supplements. I like New Chapter Organics personally. Here are some recommendations for both men and women.
I recently wrote a blog post about doing less, and I meant it. Rest is vital to your immune health. So, for one thing, I’m talking about good, quality sleep. When you are asleep your body is in recovery/healing mode. This is crucial for your overall health to have time to do the repairs. There is a lot to say about getting a good night’s sleep. If you are one of the millions of people who has trouble sleeping, stress management is probably something that needs more attention in your life. Stress management is the second part of this rest topic because resting doesn’t just mean sleeping. It means quiet time throughout your day, deep breathing, meditation, delegating or completely taking a few things off of your to-do list and prioritizing your self care as if it’s your most important job. It is.
During the colder months we sweat less and sweating is one of the body’s best ways of eliminating toxins. So, I know it’s harder to get out of bed to go to the yoga studio, gym or out for a run or walk when it’s cold out. But it’s imperative that you do. And if you really, really don’t want to leave the house to work out, you can do it at home. I recently bought a rebounder, which I learned about from Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy cancer fighting fame. I use it to manage my shin splints, stay out of the Portland rain and so I can get cardio and cellular renewal while watching my favorite episodes or The Walking Dead and Dexter. (Yes, I have a secret penchant for gore. Now you know.) Also, my pal Tina Leigh of Haute Health just introduced me to these HIT workouts on youtube that are easy to do at home.
In addition to using movement to sweat, I also recommend getting yourself to an infrared or regular Swedish sauna or steam room. Saunas and steam rooms have been used throughout history to maintain wellness in cold weather climates. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, go to Loyly. If you’re not in Portland, use the facilities at your gym or find a spa that will let you use theirs for a day fee. It’s well worth it to stay healthy, clean your endocrine system, your pores and get rid of any bug you feel coming on. Plus it will make you all glowy and who doesn’t love that?
Pouring water into your nose isn’t as scary as you might think it would be. The saline solution is smooth and you can breathe and even talk while you do it. A daily practice of cleansing the sinuses keeps dirt and debris out of your nose and sinus cavities, it moisturizes where there is dryness and keeps those sweet little hairs inside your nose called cilia moving around and doing the job they are made to do, which is to keep new debris from getting into your body. Neti is like keeping your nostril’s inbox empty so it’s free and clear to deal with any new invaders. Allergens, dirt, toxins, illness, beetles. No, it probably won’t help with beetles. But it’s one more way you can help your body be the incredible healing machine it was born to be. Here is a video tutorial.
5. Oil Of Oregano
Keep this amazing product on hand at all times. Three or four drops in your water or juice per day for five days can scare away a sore throat or cold, stop a cough or clear up a sinus infection. Oil of Oregano is known to improve respiratory health, strengthen immune system, increase joint and muscle flexibility and fight infections.
Ginger is like the crime fighter of health and has been used for thousands of years with impressive results in a variety of areas like, pain, inflammation, digestion, and as an antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, expectorant and circulatory stimulant. Just for starters. And it’s also delicious. So use it in soups, curries and stir frys. Also you can make fresh ginger tea to sip every day. Just slice up ginger root and boil it on the stove in water. You can even use the ginger a couple of times before it’s spent. Optionally add lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat.
Another powerhouse for your immune system, garlic is a fantastic antioxidant. Your grandmother was right and proven so by this recent study by the Natural Science And Engineering Research Council of Canada. The study takes a good look at allicin, the compound that is nearly confounding in its ability to trap free radicals so effectively. Crush, mince and add garlic to everything you cook. For the kids, try fresh garlic butter on ancient grain bread.
Eat them. They’re good for you. Garlic and ginger get their own category, but generally vegetables are always to your benefit. Especially in the winter after the farmer’s market is shut down and it’s harder to get the good stuff in the markets. Thanks to airplanes and modern technology, salads are still a great option, but as the weather gets chilly we crave warmer, heavier foods. There is good reason for this. Our bodies want to be warm. So make a point to learn how to prepare winter squash, sweet potatoes and root veggies like parsnips, beets and rutabagas. These wonderful winter plants store well and will give you the biggest variety of nutrition straight from the earth. They hold the energy of sunshine and soil long after the rain and snow has started to fall. Choose plant rich foods before processed, white, cheese laden, harder to digest options. Make a soup a week and freeze the leftovers. Or invite friends over to cook with you and share the meal. Because loving, being loved and laughing with friends are also proven to keep your immune system going strong.
What are your tried and true methods of staying well? Share your tips with me and others in the comments.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta
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