Consider this your winter wellness prescription:
Winter with all the rain (especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest) and cold temperatures can make you want to take up the practice of hibernation! It is tempting to hunker down with rich foods and warm drinks and lay low till the happy days of sunshine return. It is time to winterize our bodies to combat the cold and flu virus and give your immune system a fighting chance. Generally, the holidays are an especially immune suppressing time, because the food choices usually are on the nutrient-deficient side, we are around lots of people in small confined places and our exercise routines can get thrown to the curb in favor of shopping, eating, and/or partying.
The sniffles and the stomach flu, make for a lousy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years!
Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym; it could be an exercise video at home or how about learning a new sport or skill? If all else fails, do laps at the mall or get a treadmill and plant it in front of the TV!
Just move and sweat, because exercise increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells and keeps toxins flushed out of your system. Otherwise consider yourself a stagnate pond; open to all kinds of toxic buildup, (including fat) and a sitting target for the cold and flu virus.
When you do exercise be sure to take a shower and get the sweat off you immediately afterwards. As you sweat, your pores are wide open moving the sweat to the surface to cool your body down. If you wait to shower or go out while still damp, you increase the potential of the cold air invading your blood through those pores and promoting sickness. In Chinese medicine, it is called Wind Cold Invasion.
Eat Natural Killer Cell Boosting Foods
One study, showed that the combo of sweet potatoes, tomatoes and kale eaten together one time per day could substantially boost natural killer cells (a specialized immune cell). Natural killer cells are just that, pathogen killers. It is very difficult for virus’ or bacteria to lay hold on your body if natural killers cells are in abundance.
Make blueberries, cardamom, rosemary, black pepper, broccoli sprouts, and ginger a regular part of your regimen as they can promote improved circulation, have strong antioxidant qualities and increase natural killer cells.
Also, incorporate citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes. Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C and help to prevent adhesion of bacteria to the mucous membranes of our throat! The bitter quality of leafy greens makes them potent digestive stimulants, which is vital for an optimally functioning immune system.
Make a concerted effort to abstain from excess dairy because dairy (cheese, cow’s milk, yogurt) tends to be allergenic for many people. This irritant effect of dairy can make for sticky mucous. Excess sticky mucous makes it difficult for our bodies to clear infections and promote optimal drainage. Most infections are viral in origin, but if there is heavy congestion either in the lungs or sinuses, this can lead to a reservoir for bacteria.
Not to state the obvious, but how many times do you go outside misjudging the temperature? Maybe the day starts out moderately warm, but by the time you get off work, the weather has changed personalities and is bone-chilling cold. Getting the chills, is very stressful on the body and creates opportunity for viruses to invade, because so much energy is being used else ware trying to stave off the cold.
Think ahead and keep a coat, gloves and an extra pair of rain boots or tennis shoes in your car so you are never left out in the cold! There is no sense in being cold all winter and using extra energy to try to keep your internal thermostat up when your body could be using that energy for more important things like fighting disease! Maybe snuggies aren’t such a bad idea after all!
It is vital to consume fluid in the form of water or tea throughout the winter months even though you may not be drawn to them as much as you are in the summer months. One of our body’s most effective ways to keep us from catching airborne infections is well hydrated mucous membranes. Hydrated membranes are able to withstand very harsh environments and easily clear viral and bacterial pathogens. Dry, cracked membranes on the contrary are not. The cool air outside and the heated buildings when inside create the perfect storm for dehydrated membranes. Think about sipping your beverage throughout the day as opposed to just a couples massive bolus’ of fluid during the day.
If you or your family have any winning winter wisdom, please let us know below.