Don’t wait until you get sick to start taking care of yourself! These tips are easy to incorporate everyday and will build up your immune system, which can help you avoid illness and if you do get sick, reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.
1) Incorporate immune-boosting foods like garlic, turmeric and ginger daily. These spices have a long history in terms of protecting us from bacteria and viruses. Make these spices a part of your everyday routine to boost your body’s natural defense system: use garlic in almost any savory dish, sip on ginger tea or try Golden Milk to get a dose of turmeric. A curry would be a great way to combine all three!
2) Take care of your gut. Did you know that researchers are now saying that up to 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut? Keep it healthy by consuming fermented foods regularly (think sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt), taking a probiotic supplement and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. The fiber from fruits and veggies helps nourish the good bacteria in your gut, making it more likely to flourish over potentially harmful bacteria.
3) Apple cider vinegar is a traditional folk remedy. You’ve probably been told at some point to try apple cider vinegar for some health complaint you were experiencing. Not only is it good for your gut, but the acid in the vinegar can help fight off pathogens that threaten to make you sick. If you’re already sick, apple cider vinegar can help thin out mucus. Try taking 1 – 2 tbsp in a cup of warm water or using it in cooking and in salad dressings. No need to do straight shots, which may do more harm than good!
4) Vitamin D supplementation. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re accustomed to being mindful about our vitamin D levels, but did you know vitamin D plays a role in our immune system as well? Adequate levels of vitamin D are protective against infection. Make sure to take your supplement with some fat to maximize its absorption.
5) Less stress, more sleep. Stress wrecks our immune systems by throwing off the healthy microbes in your gut, which is a big blow to your body’s defense system. This time of year is notoriously stressful, but try to minimize stress as much as you can. Find tools that help you manage your stress – a deep breathing practice, yoga, a walk in the woods, having a few quiet minutes with your coffee in the morning. When we sleep, our body gets to work on healing us and keeping us healthy. The more sleep you get this time of year, the better off your immune system will be!
Emily Penn is a Holistic Nutritionist based in Camas. She offers nutrition counseling, meal delivery, pantry clean outs and grocery store tours through her business, Good Medicine Nutrition. Food is our best medicine and she wants to help you use it.
You can follow her at www.goodmedicinenutrition.com