Its beginning to look a lot like winter now, and the temperature is starting to normalize to a consistent cold. It is an important time to conserve our energy as the body is in “hibernation” mode. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and cold/flu free for the rest of the winter season:
1. Reduce your sugar intake
Refined sugar in any form: high fructose corn syrup, glucose, rice syrup, cane sugar, beet sugar, all have been shown to suppress the immune system for a few hours after consumption. High sugar intake (ex. Pop, candy, chocolate, etc.) therefore weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to colds and flus. Tip: go for your natural sweeteners: Maple Syrup, Honey, Stevia, or Agave. Or stick with natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables.
2. Reduce Dairy Consumption
Dairy is a substance that really improves the thickness of mucous- it is what we call “mucous producing.” There is some truth to the old saying: “No milk consumption when you are sick.” Dairy creates mucous secretions that are thicker and stickier. Therefore it impedes the removal or any microbes that may be trying to stick and invade your respiratory system. Tip: try milk alternatives: Rice Milk, Almond Milk, Non GMO Soy Milk (if you aren’t sensitive), or Coconut Milk
3. Warming Foods and Spices
Warming foods in the winter time is important because it not only improves circulation, which is important in flu prevention, but it will also keep you warm.
Spices to consider include: Cinnamon, Tumeric, Ginger, Cloves, Cayenne are all examples of warming spices. Increasing these in your diet will not only boost circulation in the body, which is important in cold/flu prevention, but it will keep you warm in the winter time.
Also consider adding more soups and stews to your diet. These can be done quickly with a crock pot. See Bone Broth Recipe.
4. Increasing Protein Intake.
Protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for all our immune fighting cells (ex. important for synthesizing immunoglobulins), so it is important to consume an appropriate amount. 1.0-1.2g/kg body weight is an ideal amount. If you are an athlete and training, you may want to increase this to 1.2-1.4g/kg body weight.
1. Hydrotherapy Showers
Hydro-therapy showers involve a short (15-30 seconds) cool-cold shower at the end of your regular warm shower. They stimulate a gentle pumping action that has the following physiological effects: increased oxygen absorption, increased carbon dioxide excretion, increased tissue tone, increase white blood cell count and thus improved immunity, increased red blood cell count, decreased blood glucose, heightened metabolism.
2. Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs (COP) are generally (but not always) applied to the abdomen/liver area of the body, COP improve elimination in the GI tract, regulate peristalsis, maintain mucous membranes, improve immune function, stimulate the liver, regulate the central nervous system. Apply to the abdomen each evening. For detailed directions click here.
3. Dry Skin Brushing
Dry skin brushing stimulates the lymphatic system to expel toxins through the skin. It also clears pores which are the connection to the outside and play a role in O2 and CO2 exchange. DSB also enhances blood circulation which promotes oxygenation and healing. Because the lymph flows toward the heart, use short, very light, frequent strokes from the fingertips to the breast bone, and from the toes to the pelvis for 45-60 seconds. Use a natural fibre bath brush or dry loofa. For detailed directions click here.
So there you have your basic tips to boost the immune system. One thing that must be mentioned is that sometimes there are more health factors to consider when you are looking to boosting your immunity. For example, if you find you are getting sick 4-5X per year, there will be certain Naturopathic Treatments you may want to look into to find out why your immune system is not responding. For more information or to book a consultation, contact Dr. Melissa Lee ND at Insight Naturopathic Clinic.