I’m not sure about you guys but I love the time of year when the weather starts to finally cool down. I’m all about chunky sweaters, bundling up by the fire and hot and comforting meals. That is my heaven! Although, disclaimer: Having only ever lived in southern California I’m not quite sure how I would feel if I lived somewhere else that ACTUALLY got cold. But anyways, one of the things I don’t like that comes with the cooler weather is cold and flu season!
Now that cold/flu season is fast approaching, it’s time to start taking our immune health more seriously so we can prevent us from getting sick, or at least minimize the duration and intensity of our sickness. A few years ago, my immune system was at an all time low and I was CONSTANTLY getting sick and taking more antibiotics than I’d like to admit. Now that I’ve cleaned up my diet and lifestyle, the number of cold/flu occurrences are minimal and the duration/intensity is much smaller.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get sick sometimes. We aren’t perfect. Although I normally eat a very healthy diet with tons of veggies, my one vice is stressing WAY too much….and when I stress too much and am exposed to a virus, my chance of getting sick multiplies. We all just need to do the best we can and listen to what our bodies need!
So with that said, here are some of my top tips for either preventing sickness or kicking it to the curb:
1. Eat your fruits + veggies
Hopefully we are getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables everyday, but this is especially important if you are trying to prevent or fight sickness. Fruits and veggies are loaded with crucial vitamins and minerals and keeps your immune system strong. Although we usually can’t control which bacteria and viruses we come in contact with, we can try to keep our immune system in tip top shape so it can fight off these invaders.
2. Drink soothing teas
To be honest, tea is a newfound love of mine. I’ve discovered that there are so many wonderful teas that include healing herbs and spices to not only fight off your sickness, but also help you feel better in the meantime. My favorite tea brand is Traditional Medicinals, since their teas are extremely clean with no additives or natural flavors. Some of my favorites are Echinacea Plus with elderberry and ginger root tea, but there are also a few others that are really great. I know there is huge section of this brand at Whole Foods Market!
I also love adding Manuka honey to my teas as its been shown to be extremely powerful at fighting bacteria and viruses. Add a small spoonful to your tea once it gets to a comfortable drinking temperature, as adding it while it’s extremely hot may damage the healing properties of the honey.
3. Take your supplements
There are also some supplements you can take when you feel you need the extra support. Some of my favorites are:
-Vitamin C: A staple when trying to fight off sickness, but make sure you ingest a clean supplement or powder, as many of them have added sugars and other not so healthy ingredients (aka EmergenC).
-Probiotic: Gut health is directly related to immune health, so taking a good probiotic will help keep your immune system strong.
-Vitamin D3: There has been an enormous amount of research showing how important D3 is to overall immunity and health. Although this is something that should be taken regularly when you are not getting enough sunshine on your bare skin (meaning no sunscreen), this is helpful to supplement with when cold/flu season strikes.
4. Avoid sugar
When you ingest a large amount of sugar at once, you temporarily weaken your immune system’s ability to respond to pathogens. So if you are eating sweets several times a day, you’re immune system will be perpetually compromised. And trust me, I know, one of the first things we like to do when we get sick is go for some tasty comfort food which usually involves lots of sugar. But we need to try and fight that urge if want to keep our immune strong.
5. Get enough sleep
Sleep is when our body enters that restorative state and does a deep clean of your entire body. If we are missing out on this precious time, we aren’t properly repairing and fighting off bad bugs. Sleep deprivation also leads to a suppressed immune system. Aim to get AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep a night, but 8-9 would be ideal.
6. Reduce stress
Like I said before, this is where I tend to struggle. Stress MAJORLY impacts our immune system by flooding the body with cortisol, which triggers inflammation and decreases our ability to fight off pathogens. Although we usually can’t change what happens in the world around us, we can choose how we respond to certain stressors and incorporate more stress reducing practices in our day to day life. For me, I like to take 2-3 minutes a few times a day for some deep belly breathing and meditation. I also like to prioritize spending time with family and friends as I notice this de-stresses me. What de-stresses you? Think long and hard and try to incorporate these into your everyday routine.