October 5, 2020
Although summer’s glow is still lingering, change is definitely in the air. With the colder months closer than we’d like to admit, it’s time to start preparing for the cold and flu season. This year, rather than head straight to the medicine cabinet, why not try some natural ways to boost your immune system? Although there isn’t one sure-fire way to ward off winter sickness, there are nonetheless measures we can all take that will ensure our body is at its strongest to fight off any unwanted illness.
Take Your Vitamins
It’s no secret that diet is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall health. Try getting your vitamins and minerals from natural sources, like healthy foods. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and other whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in immunity-boosting magic. Papaya, red bell pepper, spinach and citrus fruits are all packed with Vitamin C, which is key in helping your body produce infection-fighting white blood cells. Unsweetened natural yogurt contains probiotics as well as Vitamin D, both of which are known to strengthen your body’s natural defenses. Garlic is an ancient and delicious remedy for fighting infections and ginger has long been known to have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it’s an ideal all-natural helper for a sore throat.
Taking a daily supplement of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc and probiotics are also key to maintaining a healthy immune system. For anti-viral action there are several natural options including Echinacea, Elderberry, Oil of Oregano, Olive Leaf, Goldenseal, Garlic, Black Seed Oil and Colloidal Silver. Your Co-op Natural choice advisor can help you navigate the world of natural remedies and herbs so don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
Get Your Zzzs
A proper amount of rest is important for maintaining healthy bodily functions. While we all require different amounts of rest, an average of 8 hours of sleep is optimum for most of us. While we’re asleep, our body can get to work repairing and restoring, as well as fighting off any nasty germs and bacteria.
Try Essential Oils
If we’re tired and run down, it makes it easy for illnesses to target our immune system. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid the consumption of caffeine and try to stay away from screens in the hours before going to bed. In the winter months, treat yourself to a bath with some soothing essential oils in the evening; eucalyptus, in particular, is great for cleaning out our sinuses and preparing our bodies for sleep and lavender has soothing and relaxing properties. The Co-op Natural Choice section has many essential oils to choose from.
Making sure to drink enough throughout the day is essential for both preventing and fighting off illness. Consuming fluids flushes out toxins from your body and prevents dehydration.
For the best immunity-boosting results, try to drink mainly water and tea rather than sugary juices and sodas. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, as this both causes dehydration and weakens the immune system.
For an immune-boosting kick, try green and black tea, both of which are full of flavonoids, an antioxidant. You can superpower your tea by adding in fresh ginger, a squeeze of lemon juice or even a sprinkling of turmeric powder or stir in a nip of turmeric paste. If you’re not used to the strong tastes of green and black tea, sweeten your cup with a spoonful of honey. This has the added bonus of soothing a sore throat, too!
Movement is Good for the Body—and the Immune System
Regular exercise is key for maintaining your immune functions. It promotes healthy blood flow and circulation, as well as helping to reduce stress and inflammation. Try moderate, low-impact exercise such as swimming, brisk walking, cycling or jogging three times a week and you’ll be preparing your body to better deal with infections and viruses. Exercise also releases endorphins, which make you happy—so you’ll be smiling even on the greyest winter day.
Wash Your Hands
The most effective way to reduce your chances of getting sick this winter is by practicing reasonable personal hygiene. Regularly washing your hands, avoiding contact with people you know to be suffering from cold or flu and keeping your home clean will limit the spread of germs and thus protect you and your family. If you have young children in school or daycare, make sure to keep their clothes and toys clean to prevent them from bringing viruses into your house.
Lower Your Stress Levels
Sustained levels of stress can have an adverse effect on your body’s immunity functions, as well as causing inflammation. Although it’s easier said than done, reducing stress in your life can do wonders for your immune system. Activities such as yoga and meditation are fantastic ways to practice mindfulness and diminish anxiety, as well as spending quality time with friends and family.
Consider Supplements and Natural Remedies
If you do end up with a cold or the flu this season, trying some natural remedies can be a good alternative to traditional medications.
“One of the newest products on the market is Prairie Naturals Cold & Cough,” says Ric Walline, Natural Choice Advisor, Calgary Co-op. “The formula itself has been used for hundreds of years for respiratory issues. With ingredients like forsythia, honeysuckle and skullcap, this formula may help with reducing inflammation of the airways or the lungs. It is a liquid in a delicious Black Elderberry base. Speaking of Elderberry, it seems it may be the superstar this season. There’s also a heightened interest in natural cough and cold remedies and Elderberry is leading the pack at the moment.”
Try Immune Modulators
Walline also recommends that if you do feel yourself coming down with something to consider supplements to boost your immune modulation or making sure your immune system knows what its job is and has the tools to do it. One of the most common immune modulators are medicinal mushrooms like Shiitake, Turkey Tail, Maitake, Reishi and Chaga. Combination type products like Immune 7 by Purica and Myco 10 by Can Prev are great options. The other common natural product is a herb called Astragalus and can be used in combination with other herbs for best effect.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to boost your immune system. However, lifestyle changes such as eating a nutritious diet, consuming enough fluids and keeping stress levels low have proven positive effects on the immune system. This winter, incorporate some of these natural immunity boosters into your daily life and you’ll be well-placed to protect yourself against cold and flu.
Please Note: Health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health advice. This general information is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Any information, advice, or suggestions given by Calgary Co-op staff is not a replacement for medical advice from your Doctor, Dentist, or professional Practitioner. Consult with your healthcare professional with any questions you may have.
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