How to naturally boost your immunity this winter
Winter time is made for cozy sweaters, fireplaces, and cuddles. It is not made for stuffy noses and sick days in bed. But, no matter where you live in the world, somehow the winter months always come with feeling under the weather.
This winter, I made it my mission to avoid the Sickness Season naturally (i.e. no antibiotics, no late night trips to the drug store for NyQuil). In the past, I’ve always handled my winter sicknesses in the same way: As soon as I start to feel run down I stock up on cold medicine, O.J., and tissues — and slog through the next week feeling like a bus just rolled over me.
But lately, I’ve been focusing on using food as a method of healing. I wanted to approach my illnesses in a healing manner as well. So, below are a couple of the ways that I’ve increased my immunity levels, and healed my body naturally this winter season.
ADD SUPPLEMENTS INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
We’ve been hearing about the importance of Vitamin C as an immune-booster all of our lives — but, what about others?
- Vitamin D is an important aspect of our immune system, and its deficiency is linked to many autoimmune and chronic diseases. Up your ante by eating foods like salmon + eggs, soaking in the beautiful sun, or taking specific Vitamin D supplements.
- Zinc (even more so than Vitamin C!) is proven to be the most effective mineral for immunity — and the best way to prevent + cure the common cold. Find it in foods like nuts, seeds, beans, and other protein-rich foods. You can also supplement with vitamins (recommended 15 mg/day — though this amount can be double for our vegan friends!).
HARNESS YOUR SUPERFOODS
There are certain foods that have magical powers — especially when it comes to healing your immune system. Ingredients like garlic and manuka honey have immune-strengthening antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. They are also natural decongestants. This means that they keep the doctors (and vampires) away.
Mushrooms, like shiitake and reishi, are also immune boosters. The Chinese and Japanese herbal practitioners have been using these medicinal plants for centuries, especially because they decrease disease and have even been shown to reduce tumor growth.
And, finally — turmeric, and ginger are especially warming spices that you can add to almost any meal or drink. Both help to reduce inflammation, which in turn, strengthens the immune system. Ginger is also a natural decongestant (among other properties), so add it to tea or soups to fight those colds.
STOCK UP ON DAILY TONICS
As winter comes around, it’s important to incorporate a daily tonic into your routine to prevent sickness. Some of my favorites are listed below:
- Golden Milk — This new drink trend is actually an ancient Ayurvedic remedy. Turmeric, ginger, cardamom, ashwagandha, milk and a little black pepper are the perfect combo for a stress-free Night Cap. Make yourself a warm latte-like version of this tonic before sleep each night to destress and prevent sickness.
- Bone Broth — A nutritious drink that incorporates all of the important immunity superstars (collagen, minerals like zinc, amino acids for a healthy gut, and electrolytes). Drink it warm for a strong start to your day.
- Honey, Lemon + Cayenne Tea — This is a simple classic winter drink that takes just 3 ingredients to soothe that sore throat and clear the sinuses. You could even whip it up in the office. Take that winter sickness.
KEEP YOUR GUT IN CHECK
FYI — 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. Keep it in check by eating dark leafy greens, and fermented foods such as kimchi or kefir (yogurt).
Other ways to be proactive about gut health is to be sure to take a probiotic each day — if it works for your system — and avoid sugar as much as you can. Sugar is known to tear the lining of your gut, which inflames the intestines by letting invaders in. Also, antibiotics can have the same effect on your gut lining as sugar does, so try to heal naturally — instead of immediately popping those Advils on Sunday morning.
SWEAT + SLEEP + (DO NOT) STRESS
While the Three S’ may seem obvious — sweating it out, getting enough sleep, and keeping your stress levels down — but, they actually play much bigger role in the strength of your immune system than you may think.
Sweating, like hanging in a sauna or working out, increases your internal body temperature, making it harder for germs to hang out and spread. Also, sweating gets rid of those toxins building up in the body and increases the white blood count. Spa day? Count me in.
Sleep and stress go hand-in-hand — and play a major component in our overall health regardless of what season it is. Make sure that you’re getting to sleep at the same time each night, and spending some time with your mindfulness rituals each day.
Let’s heal the natural way.