Winter is here. For some of us it's an exciting time of the year that means, trip to the snow, hot chocolates, fireplace and hearty meals. For others it means that it's the return of the infamous flue that will make them feel terrible for days or even weeks.
There are actually some good ways to avoid getting sick or to recover quickly from a bad cold or flue infection. Let me share with you some of the best tips to stay healthy and enjoy the winter season.
1. LOOK AFTER YOUR GUTS AND BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY:
What happens in your digestive track has a huge impact on how well you are able to fight against gems and a direct impact on how quickly you can recover from illness. Our digestive system contains over 70% of our immunity, from saliva in the mouth to probiotics in the intestines.
· Probiotics and Prebiotics:
Both pre and probiotics help balance bacteria in the guts. Prebiotics can be found in Vegetables (asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, artichokes), Fruits (apples, bananas, citrus, kiwis and berries), Fats (chia and flax seeds) and Carbs (barley, rye, quinoa, beans, oats, wheat, yams and potatoes). Aim for 2-3 servings a day. The best sources of Probiotics are in Dairy (yogurts, cheese and kefir) and Fermented Products (pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, soy sauce and wine). Aim for 1-2 servings a day.
If you are already sick, you should consider taking supplements available at the chemist.
· Foods that you should increase in winter:
Vitamin C is well known to help fight the cold and can be found in strawberries, capsicums, broccoli and kiwis.
Garlic contains allicin, a strong antibiotic than can lessen the severity of the cold
Ginger has anti-viral compounds useful in treating inflammation. Add it to your juices.
Green Tea helps boosts the production of B-cells anti bodies to protect against pathogens invasion
Real Chicken Soup (not the canned one) contains anti- inflammatories and zinc and rich in electrolytes, proven to soothe and hydrate our body.
Honey has anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties on top of being a cough suppressant.
Supplements like Elderberry Extract, Stevia, Ginseng, Beta-Glucen, Quercetin (found in apples) and Selenium may also help reduce symptoms of cold and flue.
2. SLEEP WELL AND AVOID STRESS
As the temperature drops, we rug up, shrug our shoulders to fight the cold winds outside. You may not notice it but this tensed position where your neck seems to sink in between your shoulders doesn’t allow you to take deep breaths. It is not relaxing and actually may increase your stress hormones like cortisol. It’s also the end of the financial year and the stress from work will have a negative impact on your immune system. Make sure you acknowledge when you feel stressed and reconnect with your body by resting, taking deep long breaths and sleeping at least 7hrs per night. If you don’t rest, your body won’t be able to reset and rebuild, leading to more chances to get sick.
3. MOVE WELL, OFTEN AND OUTSIDE
Exercising is the best way to keep you warm and also keep the immune barrier working. Saying that, over exercising will create the opposite effect so make sure you take on activities that are not making you feel weaker. Taking long walk outside (good to get some Vitamin D), swimming or taking on movement training like yoga and Animal Flow will help boost your immune system. If you are sick, forget about strenuous activities as it will weaken your immune system.
4. STAY HYDRATED
You’ve heard it before and for all the good reasons. Hydration is the key since 70% of our body is made out of fluids and over 95% of our cells is composed of water! Try keeping a bottle of water at your desk and refill it each time it’s empty (another excuse to get up and move anyway!). If water is unappealing to you, try squeezing some lemon juice or drink some hot green tea (it will help loosen the mucous too).
IN A NUT SHELL:
· Eat nutrient dense food
· Rest and recover
· Manage your stress
· Avoid under/over exercising
· Avoid over/under eating
· Wash your hands
· Feed your healthy bacteria