Coughs, sinus infections, stomach viruses, the flu, oh my!
It seems like everywhere I turn I hear of another person down for the count. And to be quite honest, with each cough and sneeze surrounding me, I cringe a little thinking of the spewing particles in the air. Yes, it's true, I get a little OCD this time of year trying to safeguard myself from the germies, and I know I'm not alone. Who's got time to be sick, especially around Christmas? Umm...says no one. Ever.
So, I thought I'd take some time to give you the scoop. What do I recommend to help protect your immune system from the surrounding cooties and how to quickly beat those ailments should you succumb!
BUILDING YOUR ARSENAL:
Look, as much as we want the holidays to be of peace + good cheer, most of us are feeling run down, stressed, and deprived of sunlight come Christmas. Unfortunately, that stress directly affects our immune system by increasing inflammation of our tissues and suppressing our immune system's ability to fight infection. Therefore, we need to engage in some good 'ol fashioned TLC. If we properly care for our immune system, our bodies should have what they need to function properly and fend off any intruders.
1. Get Your Rest!
Sleep is crucial for restoration, detoxification, and DNA Repair. And it is critical in helping build your immune cells. Less sleep = lessened ability to fight off infection. While we might not feel we have the time for added rest with our last minute shopping, decorating, running around, Christmas cookie baking, cleaning, and prep...it is even more a reason to hit the hay a little earlier. You need those extra zzz's when under stress or else your body and your brain won't be as strong and healthy to give you that extra push! Try going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Stop watching TV and looking at your cell phone at least 30-60 minutes prior to bed; the blue/artificial light can actually stimulate your brain and suppress melatonin making it more difficult to sleep. Shut off Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMFs). Sleep in darkness. Provide yourself an environment for tranquil, healing sleep.
2. Get Your Fluids!
We are all guilty of it; we forget to drink water in the hustle and bustle of the day. But guess what? That hydration is important for all of our body's systems to optimally function! It lubricates our joints, tissues, and brain. It supplies oxygen to our cells. It produces lymph. It flushes out toxins. Dehydration --> inflammation. It can also trigger headaches, brain fog, and affect our nervous systems. Bottom line, without water, we aren't giving our bodies the important building blocks it needs to keep us healthy. I recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces (ex: if you are 100 lbs, drink 50 oz of water/day). If you work out and sweat, drink more. And if you need reminders about your water intake, there are tons of awesome tools to help. Try downloading an app on your phone or you can even check out Ulla - a hydration reminder bottle attachment. Currently they are 30% off at https://www.ulla.io/ and they come in several different colors/designs!
3. Cut out the sugar!
Yeah, Yeah, I know it's Christmas. I know we are bombarded with work lunches, holiday parties, family get-togethers and an array of chocolates, cookie trays, cakes, candies, you name it. And I'm not saying you can't have your taste of these sweet treats...but I'm certainly saying to be aware of your sugary intake because that sugar is no friend to your immune system. Research has been done that shows that sugar decreases the effectiveness of our white blood cells to fight infection. In fact, sugar has a similar chemical structure to Vitamin C, and those white blood cells need Vitamin C for your immune system to fight back. Unfortunately, Vitamin C and sugar compete for the attention of those white blood cells. Therefore, our immune systems don't get enough of what they need to successfully win the war against viruses and bacteria. I can't say it enough: WATCH THE SUGAR!
4. Eat whole foods in a rainbow of colors!
When I say here "Eat the rainbow", I'm not talking about a bag of Skittles. I'm talking about adding variety to your diet because each of those brightly colored foods has different vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to stay healthy and heal. Colors matter for your optimal health! For example, red and pink foods like raspberries, strawberries tomatoes, beets, red potatoes, pomegranates, and salmon are high in lycopene, vitamin C, and antioxidants like beta-carotene. Greens like dark, leafy vegetables are high in folate, calcium, fiber, lutein, and vitamins C and E! Blue, Purple, Dark Brown, White -- they too have their own chemical makeup that we need. If we don't get a variety of colors, we may be depriving ourselves of some very important nutrients to be our healthiest!
5. Move your body!
I'm a huge advocate of daily exercise. I don't care if it is a simple walk or a high impact boot camp class...exercise helps your body to detox and flush out toxins, plus it helps you feel good! Research actually shows that moderate exercise a few times a week can drastically reduce the probability of you getting sick by boosting the cells in your body that fight the bad stuff! Again, exercise = better immune health. Listen to you body, though. If you need a day of rest, rest. Otherwise, move it!
THE WEAPONS TO FIGHT:
Hopefully you won't find yourself in the throws of the ickies, but if you do, follow the script above + add in a few of the below weapons I've stockpiled to naturally fight your infection.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Ah, my friend ACV, how you have come to my rescue over and over again. Thank you, thank you. Raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar looks cloudy with a bunch of weird gunk floating around in it. Don't worry, that gunk is actually healthy bacteria formed through the fermentation process with a myriad of health benefits including but not limited to building that immune system and digestive support. Any time I start to feel under the weather or have an upset stomach, I add ACV into my repertoire. It helps to balance acidity in the stomach and seems to alleviate any tummy pains, bloating, heartburn, bubbles, or any other funky attacks going on inside. I usually dilute 1tsp-1tbsp in a mug of warm water and add 1 tsp of raw honey (another antimicrobial agent). For a sore throat, I add some lemon and cinnamon to the concoction. Sip and allow the magical goodness get to work.
2. The Wet Sock Trick
This is going to sound super silly, but a friend of mine told me about this trick when I was trying to find some natural alternatives to treat a fever. Look, often we jump for the Tylenol or Ibuprofen to eliminate a fever, but a fever is actually our body's immune system trying to fight and kill an infection. It's actually a GOOD thing! However, if you need to try to bring a fever down, try this trick before bed. Warm up your feet beforehand, maybe with a warm foot bath. Then soak some cotton or wool socks in cold water. Put them on. Then, cover your cold, wet socks with a dry, warm pair of socks. Get in bed and bundle up without uncovering or getting up. Get some sleep! This trick helps the body return to a state of homeostasis by increasing your body's circulation. I have had continued success with this trick when I have a cold, flu, congestion, or fever.
3. Epsom Salt Bath
I'm a total bath junkie. I love giving myself some extra love and relaxation in a warm soak. Adding Epsom Salt only adds to these benefits. Not only does it allow your body to rest and soothes sore and achy muscles because of the magnesium sulfate, but it has an alkalizing affect on the body which helps give your immune system a boost. Epsom Salts also help our body detoxify using our skin as an outlet to pull out yucky toxins.
4. You don't need the antibiotics!
Doctors are even catching on to the fact that too many antibiotics actually do more harm than good. So instead of running to the pharmacy with that prescription, know that there are actually other natural herbs/supplements that can help increase your immune system and fight off the bad without the negative side effects of antibiotics. Some of my favorite natural anti-viral go-tos include Olive Leaf Extract, Bromelain, Lysine, and Elderberry.
5. Envision yourself well!
Yep, envision it. If sick, close your eyes, take a breath, and envision all of the strong, healthy cells in your body fighting on your behalf. See yourself well and get well. As many of us in the wellness field like to say - mind over body. Your thoughts matter. Eliminate negativity. Eliminate bad vibes. Picture good health. Fill yourself with positivity and flood yourself with love. "Kind words are like honey -- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" (Prov 16:24).
So there you have it! Don't fret this cold/flu season -- build the arsenal to protect yourself and have the right weapons to fight back. With the right love and care, you should have all you need for a strong immune system to do exactly what God intended for it to do - keep you healthy!
I pray for love, good health, joy, strength, and peace for you this Christmas season.