Most people dread this time of year because of what comes with it- dark when you go to work, dark when you get home, rain, lots and lots of rain and the change in our health, yes, getting sick. I always think it’s funny when people say “I don’t have time to be sick” which can be true, but that usually means you aren’t taking time to allow yourself to rest so getting a cold is basically your body forcing you to do what you should be doing everyday.
Over the last couple of years, my cupboard of supplements and knowledge of how to fight a cold has grown and continues to do so. I used to get chronic sinus infections like clockwork at least once a month if not twice. I had surgery years ago which helped for a while but then they came back, and I was told I would have to have it again. With doing my own research, being in school and the help of my Naturopath, I decided a month before my surgery to cancel it. I knew I could help myself without having to do this unnecessary thing to my body. I eliminated all gluten, dairy, sugar and food sensitivities and guess what…. I didn’t get ONE sinus infection last year, I didn’t even get a cold. If that doesn’t go to show how powerful food can be and how healing it is, I don’t know what does. It was amazing to see and experience it myself after hearing a million times how helpful all that can be. Now, is it a coincidence that when I started introducing gluten and a little bit of dairy back into my diet that I got a cold? Probably not. I fully believe my body functions better without all of that.
Okay that little rant is done. Now for my tips and tricks to keep your immune system happy and kick those germs, inflammation and illness to the curb. Buh-bye.
WATER- This sounds like an obvious one, but I’m not joking when I say drink so much that it feels like you’ve had a whole lake. You should be consuming at least 2 liters of water per day on a regular basis, but even more so when you’re sick. As we know, water flushes out all the bad stuff and keeps our tissues and cells hydrated.
SLEEP- Again, sleep is important everyday but if you can, take that extra nap when you’re sick. Your body is trying its hardest to fight off inflammation, germs or viruses so it needs that extra rest to be able to do so.
OIL OF OREGANO- I’ve been downing this stuff like its nobody’s business. I take a dropper full under my tongue 1-2x/day. If you can’t handle the taste quite yet, put it in a little glass of water and drink it. Oil of oregano is full of very power antioxidants, fights inflammation and is a natural antibiotic and antifungal. With that being said, it kills the bad AND good bacteria, meaning the good bacteria we need in our gut. I don’t suggest taking this on a long-term basis, only when you’re sick or feel the need to give your immune system a little boost.
VITAMIN C- Vitamin C is very quickly excreted from the body and needed in times when we are sick. Whatever your body doesn’t use just gets urinated out. I take a high dose (1000mg) 3-4x /day. It again helps fight inflammation and is a helpful antioxidant.
VITAMIN D- I read a long time ago that everyone in Canada is vitamin d deficient, and I don’t doubt it. With our short summers and long, dark seasons, we aren’t getting natural vitamin D from the sun which is why it is SO important to supplement, especially in the winter when we’re prone to getting sick. Vitamin d is crucial for so many things like our mood, bones, teeth, sleep, but especially our immune system. I take it in a liquid form as its better absorbed and I take 10 drops (1000mg/drop) when I’m sick and go down to 5 during the dark months however we should still take it year-round, going down to 1-2 drops in the summer/spring.
ZINC- Zinc is one I forgot about but is another crucial mineral for our immune system. It fights off bacteria and viruses trying to invade. I take a liquid form and follow the directions on the bottle.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR- ACV is great for so many things. Its not for everyone but if you can take it, I suggest it. It’s going to kill all the “bad stuff” and help replenish the good bacteria we need (make sure you buy unpasteurized, organic and “with the mother”) When we’re sick, our bodies are trying hard to fight off all the bacteria, inflammation, germs, viruses etc. so other body functions take a back seat, like digestion. Taking ACV helps with that and gives your digestive system a little boost. I take about 1-2 tbsp in a small glass of water 1-2x/day.
GINGER- Ginger is super anti-inflammatory and is really helpful for soothing a sore throat. Try grating it into a cup of warm water and drink it like a tea. You can even add some lemon and sip on that all day.
GARLIC- I put garlic in everything regardless if I’m sick or not. If something calls for 2 cloves, I probably put 7. Garlic contains compounds to help the immune system fight germs and inflammation but also help some white blood cells when they come in contact with a virus. If you can, it’s best to eat it raw. I know, I know, gross. Try grating it so it’s super fine and adding it into a cup of warm bone broth or bowl of soup. That way you aren’t really cooking it, but you also aren’t just chomping on a clove of garlic.
As Alecia from www.keepitwellness.com says;
"A crucial step I can recommend to avoid getting sick is to slow down - everyday. It’s true that if we don’t take the time to care for ourselves now, we will be forced to later on… while being sick. We’ve all heard over and over about self care and how important it is – but we never really discuss why. Not only does self care and relaxation help your mental health it also has great benefits for your physical health. This includes protecting your immune system and helping you recover faster when you are sick.
Slowing down will mean different things for different people so it’s important you identify activities that will fit into your lifestyle, bring you joy and ultimately leave you feeling restored. Particularly focus on activities that will slow your heart rate, clear your mind and bring a feeling of calm. Some ideas are:
1) Meditating for 10-15min every evening
2) Taking a hot bath and reading a feel good book before bed
3) Waking up early, making a cup of tea and journaling before you start your day
4) Taking a walk after dinner to decompress and let go of the day you’ve had
5) Going to a yoga class or watching at home yoga videos
These are all great ideas that will boost your immune system and help you avoid getting sick, or shorten the amount of time you will be sick should it happen. Make sure you are putting yourself and your health as a priority, even if it’s just for a little while each day. I promise you it will make all the difference."
Who else grew up drinking tea with lemon and honey when they were sick (and still do)? I did up until last week when I was told that heating up honey degrades its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (not sure why I didn’t clue in because heating most foods up degrades its healing properties). Find a good organic, local, raw honey (even better if it contains propolis) and just eat a teaspoon everyday to boost immunity, or a tablespoon while you’re sick. You’ll get all the benefits if its not heated.
Here’s to healthy immune systems and having all the tools to fight that annoying cold that may sneak up on us.