You can’t open a newspaper without reading the latest statistics of the flu season and the impending H1N1 flu pandemic these days. The media has worked people in to a nervous frenzy. While the threat of sickness is a real one, there are many steps we can take to ensure our good health. A recent published in the British Medical Journal said that the best defense against the flu is good hygiene including washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. In addition to good hygiene, it is important to keep your immune system in tip top shape! Follow these quick tips to boost your immunity and stay healthy through the upcoming flu season:
1. Eat the rainbow! Stalking up on raw fruits and vegetables will give your body the anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes it needs to run smoothly. They will protect the cells of your body and turn you into a disease fighting machine. Aim towards 9-10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
2. Step out into the sun and get some exercise! It’s great if you head to the gym daily for at least 30 minutes of cardio. Exercise is important for good health. But to boost your immune system while getting your cardio in, head to the great outdoors. Sadly, most Americans spend more than 80% of their day inside. Exercising outside in the fresh air will release endorphins and set your body on a natural high. The chilly weather will stimulate your thyroid gland and the added sunshine is important for Vitamin D levels…..
3. Start taking a multi-vitamin that includes sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. Recent studies have shown there are clear links between Vitamin D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance, depression, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, parathyroid problems and reduced immune function. Adult women need between 3000 and 5000 i.u’s of D3 daily. For more information on Vitamin D deficiency in women see this article from Womentowomen.com.
4. Kick the sugar addiction. If there is one thing you can do that will boost your immune system it’s the reduction and elimination of refined, white sugar from your diet. On average, Americans eat more than 150 pounds of refined, white sugar each year or about ½ cup each day. Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to digest that amount of sugar. Too much sugar overworks and exhausts our white blood cells and weakens the immune system. White blood cells need protein to function. Excess sugar in our diet means that protein in the diet will not be digested and assimilated properly leading to reduced white blood cell function! Try reducing your sugar intake by replacing refined sugars with natural sugar alternative including honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Avoid artificial sweeteners as they are more toxic than refined cane sugar.
5. Eat your protein! The proper amount of protein is essential to promote cell production and support the immune system. Eating protein will also prevent loss of lean muscle mass as well as boost your energy. Protein does not have to come from animal products, there are great vegetarian sources of protein that include broccoli, nuts, seeds, tofu and spinach!
6. Get your sleep! Not getting enough sleep at night has been shown to trigger inflammatory response in the cells of the body. Cellular inflammation will aggravate autoimmune disorders, specifically in females. Even modest sleep deprivation can play a role in many immune disorders. Sleep is vitally important to maintain a healthy immune system.
7. Drink water! Staying hydrated is so important for your health! To find out how much water you need and ways to make water drinking enjoyable check out our previous blog entry, Glamorous Hydration.
8. Enjoy a cup of tea! Switch out that cup of coffee for a cup of green tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that will help to strengthen your immune system. Not only will green tea boost your immune system but it lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, a great benefit to your heart health!
9. Add garlic! Garlic is a potent immune system booster. It is an anti-microbial agent that is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Add fresh garlic to your salads, soups, sauces and sandwiches. To kick your immune system into high gear try this garlic immune booster shot: Juice together 4 cloves of garlic with a good sized chunk of ginger root, add a dash of cayenne and a table spoon of flax oil. It may not taste the best, but it will super charge your immune system!
10. Pamper yourself! Take time out for you. Treat yourself to one thing a week that will make you feel relaxed and loved. This could be as simple as hunkering down in your favorite chair to enjoy an hour of a new book, call a best friend who lives hours away, get a massage, taking a bubble bath or baking cookies. Taking time to nurture yourself and treat yourself to something special will reduce your stress level naturally boosting your immune system.
Following these 10 tips will help keep you happy and healthy throughout the fall and winter season.