Here are 5 To-Dos to Build Your Immune System and Prevent the Flu and Other Germy Conditions!
Flu season typically runs from October to April, so we are smack-dab in the height of it now. And, because it is December, we are most likely enjoying the sweet blessings that come with this festive season, like sweets, alcohol, and late night partying — all things that are not conducive to building a strong immune system! Through the holidays we are most apt to weakening our immune system with a poor diet full of processed foods, emotional and physical stress, exposure to toxins, lack of rest — and an overindulgence of eating sugar and drinking alcohol.
Flu is a contagious, respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that inflicts the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. If you have suffered through the flu, you know the symptoms, but as a reminder here they are again: fever, cough, sore throat, running or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and some may experience vomiting. Not nice, but often we think it is something we have to put up with because, after all, it is that time of the year.
However, here’s the important point — you can dodge the flu if you strengthen your immune system to fight off those nasty bugs before they get a chance to take hold. And, if they do settle in, a stronger immune system will at least shorten your recovery time. So, your best defence against flu is to do the right things now to support your immune system. Here are 5 To-Dos you should start today!
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Concentrate on immune building food sources like onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, nuts and seeds, wheat germ, avocado, liver, seafood, beans and legumes, whole grains, and fermented foods. Also, include phytonutrients which are abundant in fruits and vegetables. Think of the colours of the rainbow – red, yellow, purple, orange, green, and shop the produce section accordingly. Add lots of fruits and veggies to your salads, stews, soups, and chili, and drink green smoothies for optimal health.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Studies show that lack of sleep can suppress your immune system, making you more likely to get sick if exposed to a virus. It can also affect how fast you recover from the virus. Through the holiday (actually, this is sensible all of the time) listen to your body and if you are tired you should get some rest. Adults should get 7-8 hours of good sleep each night, teenagers should get 9-10 hours of sleep, and school-aged children should get 10 or more hours of sleep. Commit to regularly giving your body the sleep it needs!
- Exercise for health and to reduce stress
Move your body, not only to get your heart pumping, but to clear your mind and increase happy hormones. We know that exercise helps decrease your chances of developing heart disease and keeps your bones healthy and strong. Now, theories suggest that physical activity will also boost your immune system by helping to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways which may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness. Also, exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. So, begin an exercise routine for the winter – go for that walk in the snow, skate or ski and enjoy the great outdoors of Mississippi Mills.
- Take Nutritional Supplements
Even if we think we have a well-balanced diet, we are often not getting the nutrients our body needs. So, it is important to supplement with immune building vitamins and minerals. Supplements that are good for the immune system include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Selenium, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D and B Vitamins, and probiotics to strengthen gut mucosa. Also, good quality protein is very important for building healthy cells. Supplementation is a must to maintain your health.
- Wash Your Hands
This to-do list would not be complete without mentioning the importance of proper hygiene. It is vital that you wash your hands well, especially during flu season! This simple act, in and of itself, can eliminate a lot of germs from entering your body and/or passing the germs onto others. Additionally, to keep your home germ free, clean with a non-toxic germicide.
My Healthy Habits in Our Home
Through winter months, I keep a well-stocked fruit bowl and fresh vegetables, feed my family healthy home-cooked meals, drink filtered water, take supplements, and take extra time to clean surface areas with products that I trust. Like a broken record, I am constantly encouraging the boys to get outside and “move their bodies.” In all, we do our best to follow this to-do list!
If you would like to discuss ways on how to keep you and your family healthy this flu season through diet, supplementation and lifestyle choices, please connect with me. I would love to listen and share.
Lisa George, R.H.N., is owner of Creating Healthy Habits, a holistic nutrition consulting business based in Almonte