10 Tips to Prevent the Cold and Flu
I'm sure many of you, like myself have already gotten your flu shots, and that's a good thing. But, why is it that some people seldom get sick while others are often ill?
The answer lies in your immune system. The immune system is your body's defense against infections, and when it’s working well, it can help you avoid illness. Priming your immune system cannot only prevent illness, but shorten the infection time.
Here are my top 10 immune boosting tips which help keep me healthy through the cold and flu season and are sure to do the same for you!
1. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables: Different fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients. Eating the rainbow (purple, yellow, green, orange, white, red) provides your immune system with powerful antioxidant support. Antioxidants help your body repair cells damaged by free radicals (free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing aging and illness). So make sure to eat the rainbow every day!
2. Add medicinal foods to your diet: Garlic is antimicrobial and helps fight infection and bacteria; ginger helps break down toxins in the lungs and sinuses and helps to cleanse the lymphatic system; mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, and reishi contain properties that are known to help fight infection.
3. Add probiotic-rich foods and supplements to your diet: Probiotics can boost the body’s immune function and help the body fight infections. Keeping your gut bacteria healthy enhances the immune system and 70-80% of our immune system is in the gut. Foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi contain large amounts of “good” bacteria. Probiotic supplements may also help in reducing gastrointestinal infections. It's a good idea to vary your probiotic supplements on a monthly basis since they all contain different strains of bacteria.
4. Avoid sugar: Sugar suppresses your immune system. A research study done by Loma Linda University in which participants were fed different forms of sugar found that the effectiveness of white blood cells (our immune cells which fight infection) decreased up to 50% after 1-2 hours of eating sugar, lasting up to five hours!
Check in on your sugar intake and learn to read labels. Sugar has a lot of hidden names and is found in most packaged foods, your favorite coffee beverages and energy drinks. It's even found in your favorite salad dressings and tomato sauce. Refined carbohydrates are also converting to sugar in your body.
5. Take Vitamin D: Vitamin D could rightly be described as a “miracle nutrient” for your immune system. It enables your body to produce well over 200 antimicrobial peptides which help fight off all sorts of infections.
Ideally, you’d be exposing your skin to an average of 15 minutes of sunlight a day so your body could produce its own. Given the shorter and colder days of winter, we simply do not get what we need, so we need to supplement. It's best to have your vitamin D levels tested by your doctor to know the right amount for you. Most individuals will require between 2000-3000 IU's daily, but those with autoimmune diseases, like me, usually require higher doses.
6. Get proper sleep: Fatigue increases your susceptibility to illness and insomnia can increase inflammation. The right amount of sleep gives your body the time to repair and rejuvenate itself. You require 7-8 hours a night to boost your body's defenses.
7. Move your body: Movement stimulates the lymphatic system and increases the level of leukocytes in your body, an infection-fighting immune system cell. Movement can be walking, dancing, cleaning, jumping rope, yoga, etc. Get creative and get moving!
8. Meditate: Start your day with deep breathing exercises or meditation. Long-term stress increases cortisol levels which suppress the immune system. Meditation helps to nourish the nervous system and relieve stress. Start with 5 minutes in the morning if you're a beginner and work your way up to 20 minutes a day to receive the full benefits of this practice.
9. Drink water: Drink plenty of liquids, mostly in the form of water. It helps to energize, detoxify and flush impurities from the system.
10. Use a Neti-Pot & Humidifier: When you breathe in allergens, pollution, and other forms of irritation, mucus production can increase, setting the stage for congestion and infection. By performing a nasal rinse before this has a chance to occur, you can prevent and relieve symptoms that accompany sinus infections, common colds and other illnesses. (I use Neil-Med Sinus Rinse).
Also use a humidifier to help reduce the risk of infections. Viruses and bacteria can’t travel as well in moist air. A humidifier could mean the difference between getting the flu this winter and remaining healthy. Use your humidifier from October-May.
I hope you find these tips helpful in keeping you healthy this season.
To your health & happiness,
GET EVEN HEALTHIER!
Would you like to learn more about how to stay healthy this cold and flu season? Are you curious about how health coaching can help you live your healthiest and happiest life? Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
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