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It’s cold season! Once the colder weather starts to hit, I start to hear sniffling, sneezing, and coughing all around me. In the past, it always seemed like I was sick on Christmas. The cold weather drives more of us indoors in warm areas, sharing air with others. But new research from Yale University found that lower temperatures inside the nose will weaken the immune system’s ability to fight the cold virus.
So how do we decrease our chances of getting sick in the winter? There are some natural ways we can strengthen our immune system, which will help us to fight off any of those pesky cold viruses. Here are some of the things I do that seem to help me stay healthy and well.
1. Drink plenty of water. This is something we should be doing anyway, but it can be more difficult to remember to gulp down our H2O in chilly weather than in the heat. Water keeps us hydrated and helps us to regulate our body temperatures. Dehydration will make us more susceptible to winter colds. Keep your body well hydrated to keep it healthy!
2. Avoid Sugar. Sugar is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It tempts our taste buds, and once we have that first bite it spikes our insulin levels and releases seretonin, which makes our brains think we need more. So we start to crave it and think it makes us feel better. We feel like it makes us happy. But sugar doesn’t really love us. Not only can sugar consumption lead to insulin resistance, fatigue and weight gain, but it weakens our immune system. I try to stay away from sugar anyway because my body feels so much better without it, but I especially try to avoid it more during the winter. I know this can be hard to do with all of the holiday treats presented to us this time of the year, but limiting your sugar intake gives your immune system a better chance of fighting off that Christmas cold.
3. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar. There are many health benefits to drinking apple cider vinegar. It can help improve blood sugar levels, control bad breath, improve our skin, improve our digestion (and a healthy digestive system is key to a healthy immune system), and help with allergies. It is good for detoxification, helps with the growth of the friendly bacteria in our bodies, and can benefit our lymphatic system by cleansing lymph nodes and breaking up mucus in the body. All of these benefits are great immune system strengtheners and can aid us in reducing colds. Try mixing a tablespoon with a glass of water and drinking it daily. It can take some getting used to. Bragg’s has some Apple Cider Vinegar drinks that are a bit easier to consume. I like the Apple-Cinnamon, it is ACV that is mixed with organic apple juice, cinnamon and stevia. I actually enjoy the taste.
4. Saline Rinses. Cold viruses enter our bodies through our nose and mouths, so keeping our nasal passages clear and clean can help keep those viruses at bay. You can use a neti pot filled with a saline solution to clear your nasal passages, or a saline rinse. I try to do this once or twice daily.
5. EAT your vitamins! Taking a multi-vitamin as a supplement is fine, but do not rely on supplements for your daily vitamin intake. Supplements are simply that—supplements—not replacements. They should not replace a diet of proper nutrients. Feed your body the nutrients it needs with foods rich in vitamins. Make sure you are incorporating fruits and veggies into your diet.
6. Get your Z’s. Getting enough sleep is something our bodies need to function well. If you are not well rested it can lead to a weaker immune system and make our bodies an easier target for those cold viruses. It can also increase your stress hormones and increase inflammation in your body.
7. Stay Active. Regular exercise will help our immune system fight infection. It also boosts seretonin levels and can help us sleep better. I grew up in Florida and I hate the cold weather, so going outside for a walk or a run in temperatures below 45 degrees is about as desirable as eating a tablespoon of hot sauce. If you are not a member of a gym, there are plenty of workout you can do in the comfort of your own home. Try The Traveling WOD or Bodyrock.tv, or search on YouTube, there are tons!
And be sure to keep your surfaces clean and rinse fruits, veggies and meat prior to consuming. And wash your hands!
Stay healthy, my friends.