Yep, we’re officially in the cold and flu season and there are lots of germs flying around. So how do you stay healthy? I recently read that one teaspoon of sugar has been shown to depress the immune system for up to 4 hours! Okay, so there’s one excellent reason to walk away from processed and refined sugars.
Some of us have already gotten a “flu shot,” though according to the Centers for Disease Control this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective as in year’s past because the current strain of the virus has mutated. We’re all washing our hands and trying to minimize exposure. We’ve all heard about the importance of sleep along with the importance of taking daily probiotics since 70 percent of our immune systems lie in our digestive tracts.
So, what else can we be doing to boost our immune systems? Read on, help is on the way!
To amp up your efforts to avoid the flu this winter, here are my top five tips for helping stay in the No Flu Zone!
Tip One: Water, water, water! Drink it WARM!
Why: Besides hydration, it promotes healthy kidney function, which in turn is key in helping your body detox. Warm or hot water helps you sweat, thus releasing toxins, which can build up, making you more susceptible to illness.
Drinking warm water also helps with:
a) Loosening phlegm from your respiratory tract and clearing nasal congestion.
b) Boosting your blood circulation and promoting a healthy nervous system. We know stress contributes to illness as well.
c) Improving digestion and keeps your bowels moving.
Add a squeeze of lemon* to a warm glass of water (15 minutes before breakfast) helps to enhance all of the benefits of lemons including:
a) Offering significant quantities of Vitamin C, calcium, iron, fiber, B-complex, magnesium and potassium, (more than apples or grapes!) Talk about an immune boost!
b) Decreasing inflammation that may set us up for illness.
c) Stimulating our liver function through toxin flushing
Tip Two: Use Epsom Salt Baths!
Why: While baths are relaxing and cleansing, an Epsom salt bath* offers huge health benefits while also being inexpensive and non toxic. These include:
a) Helping restore magnesium, which can drop when one is stressed.
b) Drawing out toxins through the sulfates found in Epsom salts. I usually add lavender oil to my Epsom salt baths.
c) Reducing inflammation, again a precursor to many illnesses.
*Recommended amounts of Epsom salt per standard-size tub (Health/Lifestyle):
- Adults 60-100 lbs. – add 1 cup
- Adults 100-150 lbs. – add 1 ½ cups
- Adults 150-200 lbs. – add 2 cups
- For every 50 pounds larger, add ½ cup
- Children under 60 pounds – add ½ cup
Tip Three: Try to eat more ALKALINE foods! (and organic when you can)
Why: Maintaining a healthy pH level also contributes to staying healthy and avoiding illness and other undesirable symptoms. Our bodies have a pH balance that determines the ratio of acid and alkalinity present in our systems. High acidity levels can cause symptoms such as: low energy level, fatigue, irritability, headaches, and recurring infections.
For a list of good alkaline foods, check out:
For a list of acidic foods to avoid, check out:
Tip Four: Drink more Green Tea!
Why: Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, potent antioxidants that help fight a compromised immune system and infection. I’ve personally had at least two cups each morning for the past eight years and am convinced that these antioxidants have been part of my team of good foods on the path of wellness.
a) I’ve read that green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet!
b) In one study, women who drank the most green tea had a 22 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer, men had a 48 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer and in China green tea drinkers had a 57 percent lower risk of colon cancer! Go GREEN TEA!
c) The antioxidants in green tea improve dental health by killing bacteria in the mouth!
Tip Five: Don’t forget about the power of HERBS!
Why: Herbs can be a wonderful supplement to healthy diet and lifestyle in your quest to avoid the flu this season!
a) My favorite new herbal tincture is called “Kick-Ass Immune Activator.” This blend contains Elderflower, Goldenseal, Baptisia, and Echinacea roots. I put a couple of droppers in my water bottle every other day during the winter. While strengthening my system it has also been successful in kicking out any cold or flu I may feel like I’m coming down with. It’s part of WishGardens Herbs and sold at WholeFoods, but I also buy it from Pharmaca: http://www.pharmaca.com/wishgarden-herbs-kick-ass-immune-2oz
b) Elderberry extract has been found to fight up to 10 different virus strains! It’s commercially sold as Sambucol.
c) In a study of The Journal of National Medical Associate, taking Echinacea (1,000 milligrams 3 x day) along with a garlic supplement can greatly reduce your risk for getting the flu or a cold. Note: If you are allergic to ragweed or pollen, first talk with your doctor.
While there are many things we can all be doing to stay healthy this winter, I don’t want to forget to mention out how important exercise is, especially during the winter months. Getting outside for fresh air, even for 30 minutes a day, strengthens our immune systems and increases our feelings of wellness.
Today, I hope I’ve helped reinforce the notion that we CAN take proactive steps to stay healthy in natural, non toxic ways vs. waiting for an illness to find us. I also hope that some or all of my tips here offer you the opportunity to make some simple and affordable changes in your approach to staying strong and healthy all year long!
Peace and Proactive Good Health!
Lewis Natural Health
Melina Meza (December 2013)
Journal of National Medical Association