Thursday, November 10, 2011
7 Natural Methods to Get You Through Cold and Flu Season
Its that time of year again.... cold and flu season. It seems like every place you go, work, school the post office the grocery store etc people are sneezing and sniffling.
We are all exposed to germs, but by strengthening your internal system you can have a great deal of control over your own health. While many people seek the influenza vaccine in the hopes of avoiding the flu, if you have a healthy and strong immune system, then such a step is unnecessary.
I just read this incredible article from Kimberly Snyder so I wanted to share what she wrote to help boost your immune system naturally to keep us healthy all year around.
1. Eat Right!
I have a hunch you’re not surprised that this is my top way to avoid colds and flu. After all, eating right is the foundation for vibrant health.
Avoid processed sugar and products, which decreases immunity and causes spikes in blood glucose, and dairy, which creates mucous. Reduce your chemical load by choosing organic plants and avoiding processed foods. If your body has to deal with toxins in the foods you eat, then it won’t have enough energy to fight off germs, as well.
Certain vitamins actually increase the number of white cells in your blood, boosting immunity.
•Vitamin C: Try bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, grapefruits, spinach, and sweet potatoes for a boost of this antioxidant.
•Vitamin E: Which foods contain this beneficial vitamin? Try hazelnuts, almonds, tomatoes, and spinach.
•Carotenoids: You can find these beneficial nutrients in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, orange-colored vegetables like squash and carrots, tomatoes, and spices like cayenne pepper.
•Bioflavonoids: These antioxidants are available in sweet peppers, chocolate, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tropical fruits, garlic, and spinach.
•Selenium: Your body needs this mineral in trace amounts. You can find it in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, barley, brown rice, and oats.
•Zinc: Another essential mineral, you can find zinc from delicious sources like dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds or tahini.
•Omega-3 fatty acids: These essential fats can be found in walnuts and flaxseeds.
2. Control Stress
Stress saps your body of its ability to fight illness. According to the American Psychological Association, research has repeatedly shown that chronic stress has a direct correlation with weakened immune function.
What can you do to distress? Here are a few tools.
•Deep breathing exercises
•Take time for yourself
•Be aware of when you are feeling especially stressed
3. Get Enough Sleep
You need your sleep to stay healthy! If I sound like your mother, she said that with good reason. Research shows that when you are deprived of sleep, inflammatory cytokines rise while t-cells decrease. These two responses weaken your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off cold and influenza.
Experts estimate adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Not sleeping well? Try these ideas to help improve your sleep.
•Avoid caffeine and sugar.
•Don’t eat heavy foods near bedtime- especially animal proteins, which are slow-digesting foods
•Keep your bedroom a comfortable temperature. In general, you need the room to be slightly cooler while you sleep than at other times during the day.
•Check your mattress and pillow. Are they comfortable? If not, it may be time to replace them.
•Create a bedtime routine and stick to it.
•Try a warm (not hot) bath right before bedtime. The drop in temperature after you get out of the bath triggers sleepiness.
•Use your bed only for sleeping. Read and watch television away from your bedroom.
•Lighted computer, laptop, and tablet screens within 30 minutes before bed may interrupt your sleep cycle. Shut off the computer at least an hour before you go to sleep.
•Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning to set your sleep schedule.
•Try a cup of chamomile or rooibos tea at least an hour before bed.
Pursuing moderate exercise can boost your immune system. While experts aren’t sure exactly why this is, they have developed theories including:
•The rise in body temperature associated with exercise may fight off germs.
•Exercise helps control stress, allowing you stronger immune function.
•Exercise forces bacteria from your body via exhalation and sweat, thus flushing toxins out of your body before they make you sick.
•Exercise increases blood flow, which keeps your immune fighters circulating more quickly through your bloodstream.
Pursue moderate exercise. Take a brisk walk during the day, go hiking, bicycle, practice yoga or find some other activity you enjoy and can pursue regularly. One caveat, however. Over-exercising can lower immunity, so there’s no need to become a workout warrior.
Your body needs water to function. Staying hydrated is essential, and drinking water is the best way to do it. Water helps flush toxins out of your system and keeps your mucous membranes moist, which can prevent cold and flu germs from adhering inside your nose or lungs. The amount your body needs is dependent on many factors, including your activity levels and the kind of food you eat. Just remember to drink water between meals, not with them.
When your body’s chemical load is high, it cannot function properly. Chemicals clog your organs and hamper your immune system. Eating a healthy diet goes a long way to detoxifying your body and rebalancing your system.
7. Heat it Up!
Warming herbs and spices heat up the body, boost circulation and speed up metabolism. All of these actions have a positive effect on the immune system, and adding them to your diet can help fight colds and flu. Try these:
There’s no need to get sick this cold and flu season. If you take care of yourself- your internal terrain- then your immune system will be better prepared to fight off whatever germs you encounter.