The weather has been beautiful but don’t let that fool you, cold and flu season will be in full swing soon enough. Are you protecting yourself? Here are some simple ways to keep your defenses strong during the upcoming months:
1. TEAS: Nutritive teas are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to keep your defenses high as well as an easy way to keep your fluid intake up to support your detoxification systems.
- Rose hips—full of that powerful antioxidant vitamin C
- Stinging nettle—contains lots of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C, just to name a few. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties making it good for allergies, arthritis, and skin conditions such as eczema
- Elderberry— has anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects, making them popular for strengthening the immune system
2. SUPPORT YOUR GUT HEALTH: about 80% of your immune system is in your gut so it is important to take care of this defense system on a daily basis. Incorporate pre- and probiotic foods on a daily basis
- Prebiotic foods—jerusalem artichoke, hemp seeds, avocado, flax seeds, dandelion greens, garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus
- Probiotic foods—kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, miso, yogurt
3. EXERCISE: Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing your circulation and relieving stress. Increased circulation allows antibodies to travel throughout your bloodstream faster, making it easier for your immune system to fight off an illness. Get at least 30 minutes daily of movement and the best exercise is the one that you will stick with!
4. MANAGE STRESS: It’s something we cannot avoid but we can do small things to help manage it. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly impair our immune system
- Take a 5 minute time out and take some deep breaths. Try exhaling twice as long as inhaling to engage that parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”)
- Left nostril breathing is great for those who are stressed and anxious, it will help you calm right down. It’s also great for those who wake in the night with a racing mind.
Here is a 3 minute youtube video to show you how https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psuV0G3aLQk
5. SLEEP: at least 7-9 hours nightly and make sure you practice good sleep hygiene habits: sleeping in a dark and quiet room, avoid screen time at least 1 hour before bed (tablets, phones, computer, TV), avoid caffeine in the afternoon. The half life of caffeine is 4-6 hours so if you have a small cup of coffee with about 200mg of caffeine in it at 2pm then at 6pm you have 100mg and at bedtime you will still have 50mg of caffeine in your system which can affect the quality of your sleep.
6. HYDROTHERAPY: Water is extremely healing and a simple trick you can do is hot and cold showers. I know it doesn’t sound fun but your body will get used to it. At the end of your shower do a short alternation of hot and cold. As your body adapts you can increase the intensity. Just alternative 3-5 times in a 3:1 ratio of hot to cold ie: 30 seconds of hot and 10 seconds of cold, and be sure to end on cold. The alternating temperatures help to improve your circulation and therefore help to get those germ fighters around your body to ward off any attackers. You will also feel energized for your day!
Remember, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or on certain medications such as blood pressure, blood thinners or diuretic pills, some herbs may not be safe. Always consult your naturopathic doctor for the safest and best advice for YOU