We enter a brand New Year with good intentions to get healthier, to lose weight, go to the gym regularly, quit smoking, save money, do something good for the environment or the like. It doesn’t have to be a resolution per say, January is a terrific time to make better choices. Unfortunately there’s a lot of people feeling under the weather right now, many of my clients have had or are trying to fend off a cold! Its unfair when we are enthusiastic to make change and yet don’t feel well enough to tackle things full on.
Why now, what’s going on? We can point our finger at the biggest culprit, which is how we ate over the holidays. There were celebrations with an abundance of wonderful food and drink, we stayed up late and missed some workouts. There were tempting treats available at every turn, and I’ll bet you ate far less veggies than normal.
One of the most detrimental things to our immune system is sugar. Research shows that after eating or drinking something that contains sugar, your white blood cells are 40% less effective at killing germs. This will cripple your immune system, the effect will last for up to 5 hours!
ISR #1 (Immune Strong Recommendation) – avoid sugar, period.
Did you know that your largest immune organ is your digestive tract?!? Approximately 80% of your immune system spends most of its time around your gut. The digestive tract houses very special lymphatic bundles called Peyer’s Patches which are an important component of the immune system. Peyer’s Patches are considered to be the immune sensors of the intestine. The health of your gut and gut bacteria are vitally linked to the health of your immune system. When your gut bacteria is out of balance, so is your immune system. Signs that your digestive system and immune system are out of balance are: food allergies, seasonal allergies, chronic inflammation, chronic sinusitis, and colds or flu’s that linger for weeks. Probiotics – the ‘good bacteria’ – have been shown to reduce the length of a cold by 30%!
ISR #2 – eat probiotic-rich foods every day and take a good quality probiotic supplement.
Like a battery we need to recharge. Sleep is when we rest, rejuvenate and organs detoxify. A lack of sleep will without a doubt impact your immune system. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, and if you do get sick, a lack of sleep will slow down how fast you recover. During sleep, your immune system releases special proteins called ‘cytokines’ which are needed to fight an infection and inflammation. Infection-fighting antibodies are also reduced when you don’t get enough sleep.
ISR #3 – get plenty of sleep, with 1 or 2 of those hours being prior to midnight.
Change your thoughts! There’s actually nothing wrong with getting a cold or flu, we have an immune system that is well equipped to deal with those bad bugs. It also has the ability to learn and respond better at next exposure. Of course being sick feels terrible, we can’t go to work and run around and do the things like to and have to do. Instead, this is the time to keep warm, drink plenty of liquids and curl up on the couch with a good book. Think of that cold as making you stronger, a workout for your immune system if you will. You’ll get better, give yourself a few days.
ISR #4 – change your perception, think of that cold or flu as a workout for your immune system!
A diet rich in veggies, fruit, healthy fats, proteins and one that avoids processed/packaged and fast foods will give your body the nutrients it needs and go along way in keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Having said that, there are times when we need extra support. If you feel like your getting a cold or flu, enjoy more garlic, ginger, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries, coconut oil and green tea.
We can also help the immune system with extra support from vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D, minerals such as zinc, powerful antioxidants such as CoQ10 and grape seed extract, and herbs such as echinacea and goldenseal. Please take care when taking supplements and ensure they are right for you.
ISR #5 – keep your your immune system with a good diet, add extra support when you feel like something is coming on.
Photo Credit: thefitindian.com