Cold and flu season is upon us, which can zap the entire family of energy. While this winter is experiencing some very cold temperatures we often find ourselves getting sick this time of year. Factors contributing to our poor immunity include:
- lack of vitamin D (which helps us fight off infection),
- increased sugar intake (especially around the holidays),
- decreased water intake (especially because we stick to those warming beverages which often contain caffeine, dehydrating us),
- and increased stress.
So what can we do?
Here are 6 tips to boost your immunity during the cold winter months:
1. Include vitamin D. We can get Vitamin D by using a UVB lamp that can allow our body to synthesize vitamin D3. Vitamin D can also be obtained via dietary means through sources like egg yolks, fish (especially if you eat the small bones), cod liver oil (check for clean sources that are third-party tested for contaminants), and some mushrooms, for example, button. We can also supplement vitamin D. The current optimal recommendations are about 35 IU per lb. of body weight.
2. Probiotics. These gut-friendly flora can help reduce inflammation and may help combat depression, which can really help with those mid-winter blues. We can get probiotics from plain yogurt (dairy-free or dairy) as well as including fermented foods. Fermented foods can help fight off flus by modulating the immune system, and as an added bonus may be just as beneficial for balancing poor stomach acidity as a proton pump inhibitor.
3. Water. In nearly all of our posts we remind you to drink lots of water, since it helps to cleanse the body and because dehydration can leave you particularly vulnerable to illness. Ideally you should be drinking clean, filtered living water (contact us for more info on this).
4. Eat mushrooms. In particular Japanese mushrooms, like Mitake and Shitaki, because they contain the powerful antioxidant ergothioneine, an antioxidant amino acid that helps to protect cells (especially those of the liver and kidneys).
5. Nourish your adrenals. Your adrenal glands help you combat stress, however, they can easily become fatigued. Almonds contain calcium and magnesium that can help calm overtired adrenals. Avocados are rich in B vitamins that can help support adrenocorticoid function. Swiss chard, brazil nuts, kale, oranges, and lemon can also support healthy adrenal function.
6. Garlic. Add garlic to your soups, stews and dips. Garlic contains allicin which can help increase your body’s number of T-cells, which helps to give us the acquired immunity to many pathogens. They also have broad-range antimicrobial activity.
Ultimately, we want to make sure we’re eating a varied diet (eat a rainbow) and make sure we’re getting plenty of exercise and rest to help combat colds and flus. If you do end up getting sick, take the time to care for yourself. Your body will thank you for it.