Right around the time we begin decking the halls for upcoming holidays, we can get run-down, stressed, and suddenly susceptible to colds, viruses and God-forbid, the flu! Two of my four kids have already started struggling with cold symptoms lately---one was struggling with a sore throat yesterday, the other told me she woke up with the sniffles this morning. A friend sympathized with me over the phone today, "Oh, yeah, when the weather changes, that's when these things kick in."
I beg to differ. It doesn't have to be like this! Just because something is common doesn't mean it's natural or supposed to be that way. It gets cold, so we catch colds? I don't think so!
As the weather turns colder, I suggest being pro-active to boost your immune system. Follow these tips on a regular basis and you may not encounter a sniffle or cold-like symptom for years. (I'm living proof!) If you do find yourself sniffling or experiencing a tickle in the back of your throat, spring into action with these SIX TIPS TO AVOID GETTING SICK (imagine an announcer saying this, in a rich baritone voice, with a demolition derby echo, for effect)!
1. Eat whole, real foods - When food is fresh, it is teeming with the nutrients your body needs. Packaged food on shelves is teeming with a lot of other stuff that your body doesn't need: preservatives to prolong its shelf life, artificial coloring and flavoring so it tastes as if it were fresh, etc. Like a sports car, give your body the best fuel and it will run more efficiently. Avoid fast food and stuff that comes in a box or can. And if you feel like the people at McD's know your order by heart, take heart! An upcoming post will focus on how to take steps toward slow food (as opposed to fast food).
2. Avoid sugar - Everyone is becoming more aware of the dangers of sugar, but did you know that it's a robber? When you ingest sugar, it basically inhibits the performance of your white cells, which are the ones that fight damaging bacteria. It's as if the sugar were tying the cells' arms behind their backs, limiting their capacity to battle the bad guys. It doesn't fight fair. Don't let it get in the ring, if you can help it. When you start to feel sick, avoid sodas, candies, sweet treats, and even store-bought soup and crackers (that often have added sugar)! You'll give the white cells a fighting chance of staving off that cold!
3. Stay hydrated - This is not just a summertime "thing." Our bodies are 60% water. Consider water a lubricant of sorts, that keeps your muscles and bones working without a hitch.
4. Rest - Stress is a huge immune-surpressor. Study after study implicates stress as a major factor in a wide variety of illnesses, including heart disease! Make sure to breathe deeply and regularly. Find ways to de-stress, read a good book, go for a walk, and, yes, obvi, go to sleep early!
5. Exercise - Seems like the exact opposite of number 4, but there is a time and a place for everything. Rest has its moment. So should exercise. Exercise is one of the top de-stressors. You might feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but when you get on your bike, or start dancing in that Dance Blast class, your body feels suddenly free and unburdened. You get happy right down to your cells! And happy cells are healthy cells!
6. Cod liver oil - Last but not least! Yes, granny was right! This dietary supplement has been used for centuries and it's not difficult to understand why. Cod liver oil is chock-full of vitamins A and D and is a natural mood-booster. It helps your brain function optimally and has multiple documented healing properties. I'm a fan! It's one of the few supplements I take daily. I take several capsules or drink it in liquid form (gulp). It isn't pleasant at first, but you can get used to it. I recommend the Green Pastures fermented brand. It's the "gold standard" of cod liver oils.
A bonus tip is to eat raw garlic (also good for keeping vampires at bay) or drink raw apple cider vinegar. These are handy to have in your virus-fighting arsenal. Both have a broad spectrum of health benefits ranging from protecting your heart to helping you reach a healthy weight!
Some of these tips may seem old-fashioned, but I see them as tried and true. Let Rudolph sport the red nose this season! Stay well!