It’s human nature to hibernate during the winter months. Unfortunately, staying indoors inevitably increases the spread of germs. Of course it’s impossible to avoid all germs, but there are ways in which you can boost your immune system, making your body stronger in fighting off those nasty microbes.
Keeping your immune system in top condition is a matter of taking the time to keep yourself in tip-top shape. Below are some tips to help keep your immune system running smoothly:
1. Get plenty of beneficial bacteria.
You can boost your good bacteria count by taking a daily probiotic with a minimum of 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus. Something I learned while healing my gut was that that antibiotics and antacids affect gut flora and will make your gut symptoms worse. Boost your flora with probiotics to keep your immune system in tip top shape.
2. Mange your stress.
Lack of sleep combined with stress can drain your body, leaving your immune system weak and vulnerable. To manage your stress levels, try to set aside time in the week to relax. Try yoga or meditation for some quiet time alone. It’s important to stay active and social, and remember to clock in those eight hours. If life is bogging you down, listen to your body and take a breather.
3. Eat organic.
A healthy diet does wonders for your immune system. Avoid processed foods and load up on organic fruits and veggies. Remember to get enough antioxidant-rich foods, as they help to combat awful free radicals which are responsible for cell and DNA damage, as well as autoimmune disease, inflammation and cancer. Choose colorful fruits and leafy greens high in vitamins C, A and phytonutrients that are good for your defense system.
4. Make sure to get your nutrients.
Aim to get these vitamins into your diet:
- Vitamin D, get plenty of sunlight! Eat fatty fish, egg yolks, certain mushrooms
- Vitamin A, found in cayenne, peppers, butternut squash, and dark leafy greens
- Zinc, found in spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cocoa and beans
- Vitamin C found in dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, fresh herbs
Last year I started using the mustard powder and essential oil foot detox that was recommended by my doctor; it helps draw out toxins from your body and is quite relaxing before bed. Simply soak your feet in the tub with your favorite essential oil and a mustard powder detox that you can purchase from any health food store or online.
I often encourage my clients to gargle with sea salt and water. You can also add a drizzle of organic honey if you need something more soothing for your throat. Be sure to use real sea salt and not table salt to reap the benefits!
7. Get moving.
Mild to moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes helps to boost your immune system. But be sure to avoid over-exercising because it will leave you run down and actually lower your immune defenses.
8. Drink up!
Even though it’s cold outside, you still need to hydrate! Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including the immune system. Keep a bottle of water with you whereever you go. Warm up with homemade soups, and herbal teas like ginger and mint. Avoid sweetened drinks and sugary juices. If you can’t cut them out, try to dilute them with water and seltzer.
9. Get Your zzzzs.
When we sleep, our body is in healing and restoration mode. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is impossible. Get yourself into bed early and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Try meditation and deep breathing before you get under the covers and turn off all your electronic devices an hour before bedtime.
10. Try a saline rinse.
Clearing your sinuses with mild salt water helps to keep it nice and moist up there, guarding you against germs. Over the counter saline sprays are available at any pharmacy, or use a neti pot with sea salt and warm water.
11. Eat your protein.
Did you know that without quality protein (amino acids), your body can't detox properly? Your liver needs amino acids to pull the toxins from your body, so if you don't eat enough protein, you could just be redistributing toxins throughout your body every day. Opt for organic animal protein such as chicken, turkey and grass fed bison as well as nuts, seeds, beans and legumes every time you sit down to eat. Chia seeds and flax seeds are a great toss-in for smoothies and salads, too!
12. Add spice.
I love adding flavor to my recipes—especially when that flavor is from whole foods and nothing processed! Use organic ginger, onions, spices, garlic to your soups, salads and sauces. They offer beneficial antimicrobial properties to help keep your immune system running strong.
13. Remove sugar.
It’s hard to do, especially in the winter months when a mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream sounds like the cure-all. But a diet high in sugar can negatively impact your immune system. Do your best to avoid that hot chocolate and other sweet treats, as well as white flour and refined grains.
14. Wash those hands!
Do your best to avoid harsh antibacterial soaps, which kill both good and bad bacteria.