Get Ready For The Flu Season
There are quite a few reasons why people tend to get sick more easily during the “Cold & Flu” season. Understanding these reasons can help you avoid situations where your immune system will be compromised, causing you more prone to catching some bugs.
- Most people spend a majority of their time indoors during the cold weather season. Enclosed environment and close proximity with others encourage the spread of germs.
- High-sugar, high-fat “comfort foods” can weaken the immune system – sugar, in particular, can suppress immunity.
- Stress induces the body to produce corticosteroids, which suppress the immune system.
- Most people don’t get enough sleep causing an increase in cortisol level and a decrease in immunity. Cortisol also makes us crave sugar, which suppresses immunity.
- Shorter daylight hours can cause “winter blues” – low psychological states can suppress the immune system.
- Dry weather indoors reduces the moisture level of mucous membranesin the nasal passage, which are important in preventing unwanted bacteria and viruses from entering the respiratory system.
You can dodge the seemingly incessant flow of germs that are freely passed around in the fall and winter months by taking extra steps to support your immune system. Here are 10 simple, all-natural ways to alter your lifestyle so you are flu- and cold-resistant this year:
1. Hydrate – dehydration weakens the immune system as it relies on fluid to flush toxins. In addition, dehydration makes you feel droopy; it’s the #1 cause of daytime fatigue. Make sure you drink enough pure, filtered water throughout the day—33ml per kg of body weight is the rule of thumb, but you should drink more if you feel parched (as that’s a clear sign of dehydration).
2. Sleep – sleep deprivation takes its toll on the immune system because your cells regenerate while you rest. To avoid feeling run down, get at least 7-9 hours sleep, and practice good sleep hygiene (going to bed and rising at roughly the same time each night).
3. Sweat –when you sweat, you release toxins and rev up your metabolism. In addition, when your body heats up, you produce more white blood cells, which are basically the immune’s system’s army!
4. Reduce Sugar Intake – sugar and other refined foods suppress the immune system and load you up with empty calories that are devoid of the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy.
5. Neti Pot – regularly using the neti pot (which involves pouring distilled saline through your nasal passages) assists the body’s natural defenses by cleaning out any bacteria, allergens, and other irritants from the cilia of your nose.
6. Ginger Tea – brewing fresh ginger tea provides your body with ample antioxidants to help fortify your immune system. Because it’s a warming spice, it is especially protective when it’s cold and windy outside.
7. Echinacea – long been used to support the immune system, you can enjoy echinacea in tea or tincture form to help prevent and shorten the duration of a cold.
8. Garlic – garlic and onion are part of the allicin family, which contains potent antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Eaten raw it’s most effective, but if you (or those around you) can’t stomach that, lightly cooked garlic will provide ample defense during cold and flu season.
9. Probiotics – since the majority of the immune system is located in the gut, adding additional healthy bacteria in the form of high-quality probiotics aids in immunity and keeps the “bad” bacteria in check.
10. Turmeric – A powerful anti-inflammatory, tumeric’s effects have been compared to that of topical hydrocortisone! The chemical responsible for this and also gives turmeric its deep orange-yellow color is curcumin. Try it in this Turmeric Milk Recipe.
- 1 can of coconut milk plus 1 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or to taste
- Pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)
- Tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
- Pour into a small sauce pan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
- Drink immediately
Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.