It’s flu season. But that doesn’t mean all of us are doomed to get it!
Did you know there are some steps you can take to naturally support your body to be well this winter?
Nava Health & Vitality Center health blogger Rachel Druckenmiller has got you covered for staying healthy and well this coming holiday season…
We know that washing our hands, avoiding contact with people who are sick, and making sure our bodies get enough rest are important, but these are pretty common sense measures.
Let’s take a look at some other ways we can boost our immune system naturally this winter:
1. Nix the Sugar (at least temporarily!)
This one certainly isn’t popular, especially over the holidays, but it makes a big difference. Sugar weakens our immune system and causes inflammation in our body (inflammation = illness). It also reduces the number of healthy bacteria in our digestive system—the bacteria that help keep us healthy. Not only does it knock out the “good guys,” but sugar feeds the “bad guys” like yeast and viruses that make us sick. The minute I start to feel less than myself, I make sure to cut out sugar of any kind from my diet in an attempt to “starve” the bad bugs in my body.
2. Cut Out Dairy
If you’re congested or have a runny nose, postnasal drip, a chest cough, sinus infection, bronchitis or respiratory infection, you might want to consider taking a break from dairy to see if you feel better. Dairy products are “build up,” mucus-producing, inflammatory foods, so when we eat them, we deal with conditions that stuff or clog our bodies. To learn more about going dairy-free, check out NAVA’s own Director of Nutrition Ana Goldseker’s recent posts about the topic.
3. Heal Your Gut
About 70% of our immune system is located in and around our digestive system, especially our small intestines – our “gut”. The bacteria in our gut keep us well or make us sick. Avoiding sugars and other processed foods “starves” the bad bacteria, while probiotics and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi help keep our healthy bacteria happy, so we resist illness. Getting enough healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, and walnuts helps us heal our gut, too.
4. Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods
Some of the most health-supporting foods we can eat are antioxidant and fiber-rich foods like berries and vegetables; inflammation and detoxifying foods like leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, and kale; and bone broth. Onions, garlic, leeks, and scallions are also cleansing, detoxifying foods loaded with immune boosting nutrients. Herbs like cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric also help our bodies naturally boost immunity.
5. Grab Some Ginger
Ginger is a healing, immune boosting food to add to your diet. It fights inflammation (remember, inflammation = illness). It’s a natural pain reliever, is anti-viral, and promotes gut health. Ginger has a warming effect on the body and can help get rid of mucus build-up.
6. Supplement with Vitamin D
Most people are deficient in Vitamin D, and since we tend to have less sun exposure in the winter, we get even less as the shorter and colder days approach. It’s an essential player in our overall immune function and is effective at knocking out harmful bacteria and viruses that can make us sick. We can’t get it easily in our food, so most of us need to supplement Vitamin D (along with Vitamin K2), which helps our body make the most of the Vitamin D.
Whether or not you get the flu shot is up to you, but these tips will benefit everyone who doesn’t want to have to call out sick this winter or risk missing out on something fun during the holidays because of an illness.