Your immune system is your natural defense mechanism to protect you against colds and flus in winter, so it is important to keep it functioning well. This naturopath's prevention guide is based on a holistic approach to supporting your immunity and your health.
Our health needs change with the seasons, and winter is the time when we want to take some extra care to avoid colds and flus.
Here are 6 easy, natural tips to keep healthy this winter:
1. Boost your gut health
Your gastrointestinal wall is the barrier for your immune system and the outside world, so it is important keep it functioning well. Add a daily probiotic or fermented foods to your diet to arm your gut with some live probiotic bacteria that can fight external bugs. You can also cook with turmeric and ginger to reduce inflammation. If you feel like you need some extra care, speak to a nutritionist or naturopath who can prescribe supplements like Glutamine, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin D.
2. Clean up your diet
Your diet plays a critical role in your immunity. A balanced diet including a daily intake of fresh local fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C and B vitamins will boost your nutrient intake. Foods that are high in refined sugar and trans-fats reduce our white blood cells' ability to fight off infections, so cleaning up the diet is the first step to optimal health.
8 hours of sleep is the optimal amount for the body to properly rejuvenate and repair every single day. Although some people may find they can function from 4-6 hours, the body really needs closer to 8 — especially when the body is fighting an infection in winter.
4. Get active with dry skin brushing
Your lymphatic system slows down in winter, so dry skin brushing is the perfect way to invigorate and re-boost optimal functioning. Dry skin brushing is a simple practice that can be done every night before a warm shower for less than 5 minutes. Brushing the skin from the feet towards the heart in soft motions kick starts detoxification.
5. Treat yourself to a massage
Massage increases the ability of our immune system to fight against bacteria and infection by increasing the number of natural killer cells in the body. Circulation is increased stimulating the movement of fluid, blood and lymphocytes. Lymphatic drainage massage is a great option to help relieve sinus pressure and breathing problems.
6. Turbocharge your bath
Epsom salt baths are the perfect way to calm muscle tension, improve circulation and warm the body during winter. Epsom salts contains magnesium that is readily absorbed through the skin. Adding essential oils such as peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus can help relieve headaches and clear sinus congestion. Steam is also beneficial in reducing our exposure to bugs. Where bugs love dry, thin mucous membrane passages in our upper respiratory tract, steam lubricates these membranes and helps flush them out.