Do you tend to get sick a lot during fall and winter months? Many people believe that merely washing your hands more often should do the trick to keep illnesses away. But actually, there are many other factors which come into play toward keeping healthy. Whether you are a person who tends to catch every cold or flu that comes along or just get sick once in awhie, here are some tips that really work for keeping away bacteria, illnesses, and viruses:
- Avoid eating processed foods and refined sugars Fall and winter months are times when people tend to eat more sugary and processed foods due to holiday activities and gatherings. Sugar is a poison to your body and lowers immune system function. This includes foods such as crackers, chips, most breads, bagels, pastas, cookies, desserts, candy, juice, soda pop, and other related items. All of these items contribute to lowered immune system function and poor health. A good rule of thumb to follow – if it is not a whole food, avoid eating it regularly. Load up on real, raw, whole foods for snacks and meals alike.
- Continue to eat plenty of organic, pesticide-free fresh fruits and vegetables — especially those in season in your local area. Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants which help thwart the development of disease and illness.
- Drink plenty of filtered water (mineral water is a plus) Keep a glass container with you throughout the day and sip frequently rather than trying to gulp down many ounces at a time spread farther apart. Avoid plastic containers, tap water, and bottled water. Tap water contains toxins and plastic contains pthalates – both of which supress immune system and health.
- Make sure you are taking good-quality supplements to fill in the holes where your diet leaves off Whole-food based, organically produced vitamins and nutrients are the best variety. Don’t skimp on this important component of your health and purchase cheap varieties of these items. Ask a qualified health care practitioner to recommend something for your individual needs.
- Eat real, fermented foods like home-made yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut If you do not want to make your own yogurt, Stonyfield Farm and Brown Cow (grass-fed!) whole milk yogurts are good store-bought brands. If you have a Whole Foods in your area, try TradersPoint Creamery yogurt – also grass-fed and absolutely delicious.
- Be certain to take a good probiotic each day – especially if you are lacking fermented foods Good brands include Biotics Research, Nature’s Life liquid probiotics (great for kids), Bio Kult, and Prescript-Assist for especially low immune function.
- Be certain to get enough fiber daily or take a good quality supplement from a whole food source It goes without saying to eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of whole, sprouted, and soaked grains. Good fiber supplement brands include Sonne’s, and Colon Plus by Biotics Research. Digestive enzymes are a plus as well as they provide digestive enzymes to make certain your food is properly digested and absorbed – this is especially true if you have weak digestion and need additional support (many people have poor digestive tract function from processed diets). A good brand is Digest Gold by Enzymedica. Remember — health begins and ends in the digestive tract; if you are not eating healthy foods, your health will suffer!
- Be certain to obtain essential fatty acids in your diet and take fish oil daily (good source of Vitamin D) Eat grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, raw dairy, and safe-source fish. Good supplement brands include SIBU, Carlson’s Fish Oil, and Green Pasture’s (fermented fish oil with real, grass-fed butter oil). Good sources of other EFAs include healthy oils like cold-pressed flax seed oil and coconut oil. A good brand is Udo’s Organic 3-6-9. Read this FAQ about why people need good essential fatty acid support.
- Use healthy oils and fats for consumption and cooking – real, organic butter (grass-fed and raw is a plus), extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oils, coconut oils, palm oil, and healthy animal fats from organic, grass-fed sources such as lard, tallow, and drippings from those same types of animal meats.
- Watch intake of alcoholic beverages, which tend to increase during holiday months Drinking excess alcohol can have adverse affects on appetite, blood sugar, blood pressure and cardiovascular function, metabolic processes, and weight. If you are a binge drinker during special occasions, cut yourself off after two drinks and make certain you are eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water at the same time. Consider unpasteurized beer and wine.
- Make sure you are getting adequate rest and not overextending yourself If necessary, say no to extra tasks that you know you really won’t have time or energy to accomplish. Stay home on a night where you might normally go out and rest, relax, catch up, and go to bed early. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
- Set aside time for some regular exercise, preferably outdoors In the colder months people tend to go to health clubs more. Many more germs and toxins lurk indoors during colder months, so bundle up and go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. You’ll be pleased with how exhilarated you feel afterward. If you are a winter sport enthusiast, get out on the slopes and go skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding. If you are an equine enthusiast, make time to get out on your horse or a friend’s mount during weather that is not icy.
- Set aside time for contemplation, stress reduction, and relaxation Whether that is a hot bath, a massage, tai chi, yoga, stretching, meditation or some other method you prefer, make sure you give yourself this time to recharge.
- If you do get sick, load up on probiotics, vegetables, fruits, other raw foods, and everything else mentioned above Take time to pamper yourself (but not with toxic products that contain harmful chemicals – remember -read labels and if you cannot pronounce something or don’t know what it is, avoid!), rest, and put off things that aren’t necessary so you can get back to a state of health quicker and easier.
- Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics These substances rarely help your body to heal sooner, are over-prescribed, and actually cause nutrient depletion and lowered immune system function by wiping out friendly bacteria that is vital to health. For information on nutrient depletion caused by drugs, read Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition by Dr. Hyla Cass, M.D.
- If you cannot shake a cold, flu, or illness, consider visiting an alternative health care practitioner such as a chiropractor, naturopathic physician, or other qualified individual These practitioners are often very successful in alleviating health issues and perform treatment based on the cause of the problem rather than just treating symptoms.
If you maintain a good schedule of eating healthy, avoiding processed foods and beverages, take proper supplementation, obtain moderate activity, exercise, rest, and relaxation, you will notice an enormous improvement in the way your health responds. You will have more energy, feel more productive, and avoid catching flus and colds.