10 tips for staying healthy during cold & flu season
No one looks forward to Cold and Flu season, or at least no one enjoys having a cold or flu. Sometimes the flu can even be life threatening. Keeping your immune system primed and ready for your inevitable encounter with a winter respiratory ailment is not an arduous task.
Here is a list of some basic natural steps you can take to keep you resistant to cold and flu this winter!
Avoid sugar and HFCS – sugar and high fructose corn syrup have been shown to decrease immune function almost immediately. One of the worst things you can do when you need your immune system to work is to drink a sweetened caffeinated soda.
Get enough rest, not just sleep – 8-9 hours sleep per night and rest if you feel tired during the day. Sleep is recovery time for the body’s functions, including the immune system.
Wash hands thoroughly and frequently - you should use warm water and soap and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds to get rid of germs and bacteria. Avoid shaking hands with those already sick. Be especially thorough before eating, in public places, after dealing with money and after riding on public transit.
Eat healthy, well balanced meals - include whole grains, plenty of fruits & vegetables and adequate protein. Don’t eat on the run. Take time to enjoy your meals and include plenty of garlic and onions in diet; add shitake mushrooms to soups during the winter; switch from coffee to green tea; add thyme, oregano, rosemary and herbs to your soups & stews. Close to 70% of our immune system actually resides in our gut! Eat a rainbow of vegetables especially leafy greens, & orange vegetables that are high in beta carotene.
Decrease stress levels – stress also depresses immune function. It has been shown that about 90% of illness and disease is stress related. Acupuncture, massage or other body work is great for decreasing stress levels.
Drink plenty of water - at least one 8-oz glass of water for every 20 pounds body weight. Water is important for healthy digestion and elimination. All of our cells are constantly bathed in water. When they become dehydrated they can't function properly.
Cultivate a positive outlook - Feeling negative will decrease your immune function, while laughter and feeling positive enhances it.
Exercise regularly – walk, practice yoga, stretch, work out at a gym to help maintain a healthy body, reduce stress and prevent illness. Energetic exercise gets blood flowing to your organs, joints, muscles, and bones. This is important because blood brings nutrients, like oxygen, to the cells and it removes cellular waste products.
Bundle up and spend a few minutes outdoors regularly. Ensure your back and neck are covered properly. When sunlight touches our skin, even when diffused through the clouds, it enables our bodies to make vitamin D which is important for immune function.
Keep breathing - When you breathe deeply it gives your body a break from "fight or flight" mode and tells your nervous system to go into rest and replenish mode.
A little less than natural but an important aspect of flu resistance is getting an annual influenza vaccine, especially if you are in a high risk group, like kids and seniors (and the compromised, like diabetics). There is a lot of misinformation out there about flu shots, but the science and evidence are overwhelmingly in support of their efficacy as a preventative therapy.
Remember that if you do get some kind of epizootie in your head or lungs that we here at World Tree have a large tool kit of therapies that can make suffering less and speed in recuperation. Don't hesitate to give us a call (for existing patients we offer advice as a courtesy) or come in for a Constitutional Hydrotherapy and an herbal prescription for what ails you.
An addendum for my patients. If you do not have a Cuban Oregano live plant to add to your chicken soup this winter, stop in the clinic and get yourself a plant, Dr Thor had a bumper year growing them and has enough for everyone.