Shorter days, colder temperatures and more time spent indoors all increase our chances of getting sick. Since there is no cure for the common cold, the best thing you can do is prevent it! Registered Dietitian Megan Roosevelt shared five natural ways to boost our immune systems.
1. Eat Immune Boosting Foods! Zinc, Vitamin E and Vitamin C contain antioxidants which can help boost white blood cells helping to fight and prevent future illness.
- Vitamin C: Eat bell peppers, sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach
- Vitamin E: Eat hazelnuts, almonds and spinach
- Zinc: Eat pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, tahini or sesame seeds. Make sure to take zinc with or after eating food. Zinc can cause nausea on an empty stomach.
2. Vitamin D, Sun or Supplement
Vitamin D is key to avoiding the cold and flu. Research studies have shown that Vitamin D is far more effective at preventing the Flu, than the Flu Vaccine! In fact numerous studies show that a deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with the following ailments, conditions and diseases; acne, adrenal insufficiency's, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, autism, autoimmune diseases, allergies, osteoarthritis, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, many forms of cancer including colorectal and ovarian, Crohn's disease, chronic fatigue, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), diabetes, gluten intolerance, Graves' disease, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Parkinson's disease, psoriasis, and urinary incontinence. WOW!
It is actually rare to find adequate intake of Vitamin D from food. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Next best is naturally fortified foods such as cereals and grains or a Vitamin D supplement. To accurately address your Vitamin D needs it is best to see your naturopathic doctor or primary care physician. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is 400 IU, however this is the minimal recommendation to survive. To thrive, the optimal daily intake can be up to 4000 IU! To know the best dose of Vitamin D for yourself, it is best to get a blood test from your doctor. Meeting with a registered dietitian can also help you determine how to have a balanced diet to ensure optimal intake of all nutrients from the foods you consume, and just as important, that foods you are eating do not impair the absorption of supplements or nutrients you consume!
3. Be Hot and Spicy There is a reason our body craves warm, hot and comforting foods during the cold season. Warm foods and spices help to boost the immune system. Make the following spices staples in your winter pantry.
Try Ginger tea or add ginger to a stir fry, cinnamon in oatmeal or baked goods, and cayenne in soup! Spices and herbs are also a great way to add flavor to meals without excess calories or sodium.
4. Stay Hydrated! Drink water, herbal tea, and more water! Stay hydrated to help flush out toxins and keep all of your organs functioning their best. These herbal teas can help boost the immune system.
- Lemon Ginger
- Green Tea
- Cinnamon Bark
Some of my favorite cold weather teas's include Yogi: Cold Season, Honey Lemon Throat Comfort, Echinacea Immune Support, Green Tea, Chamomile and Soothing Caramel Bedtime.
5. Continue to develop or begin healthier lifestyle habits.
- De-stress (breath, don't sweat the small stuff, and make sure to laugh everyday!)
- Exercise (stretch, yoga, walk, go outside)
- Get plenty of sleep (your body heals and repairs while at rest, get at least 7 hours!)
There are a lot of ways we can prevent getting sick. We have yet to even begin the holiday season, which is the best time of the year, but is often tiresome, busy, and stressful for people. So start helping your health now. Go to the store and load up on plant based immune boosting foods, herbal tea's, herbs and spices. Start practicing the healthy habits of getting to bed earlier and making time to exercise. Make this Holiday season one that is enjoyable, joyful and healthy!
For more great health information, visit Megan's website.