Since many people get sick through seasonal changes, we have put together a few tips for keeping your immunity at peak levels, no matter the time of year. It can be very simple to keep sickness at bay by just following a few golden rules. Of course, you can take it much further - the sky is the limit when it comes to levels of health and vitality.
To get you started, here are a five of our best tips to help you recover from or prevent sickness this season:
There are many probiotics on the market, but lots of the tablets available do not contain enough of the beneficial bacteria you need to give your immune system that essential boost. During the summer and festive months, parties abound… and all those drinks can take their toll on your precious gut flora.
You can find probiotic content in certain products like kombucha tea (a fermented tea drink containing contains billions of friendly bacteria). However, most people can’t source enough of this fresh product to keep things afloat; nor may they have the time or inclination to learn how to make it. Kefir is another cultured/fermented probiotic drink often made from dairy, but sometimes from coconut. Some fermented foods also have probiotic qualities, like fresh sauerkraut, some yogurts, and Korean kimchi.
Many of these products are available in health food stores, but it can get expensive to consume them all the time. If you want an easy life, mix things up with supplementation; choose a strong (ideally shelf-stable) probiotic that contains all the beneficial microflora you need.
For maximum immunity, it is a great idea to have your vitamin D levels tested. The benefits of this vitamin are huge, but you won’t want to supplement unnecessarily - if you’re already brimming of Vitamin D from your summer holiday, for example. You can ask your Doctor for a test, and you need to be aiming for 50ng/ml or above (up to about 80), which will really boost your immunity.
The sun is by far your best source of Vitamin D, but it’s not always available all year round. Via those golden rays your skin can naturally produce Vitamin D, strengthening your immune system immeasurably. During summer, most people’s Vitamin D levels will naturally be higher. However, they can get dangerously low in the winter (depending on where you live), sometimes dropping to below 20ng/ml. This can result in issues like colds and hormonal imbalances.
Remember: Chemical-laden high street sunscreens will block the rays that produce it, and the chemicals also lower your immunity! Use coconut oil for a natural sunscreen, or one of the natural formulations on the market.
Vitamin D can be found in egg yolks, salmon, mackerel, and delicious portobello mushrooms. Vitamin D2 is the one you will often see in ‘fortified’ products such as milks, but it is not as effective as Vitamin D3. It can be challenging to get enough through food alone, so consider supplementing vitamin D2 to maintain adequate levels.
Good old garlic is considered a superfood by many, and is actually a powerful immune-booster. Garlic (especially when consumed raw) has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years within many major civilizations, from the Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks, to the Romans and the Chinese.
Garlic is super-nutritious too. Here’s what a 1ounce serving of garlic contains:
- Vitamin B6: 17% of RDA
- Vitamin C: 15% of RDA
- Manganese: 23% of RDA
- Selenium: 6% of RDA
- Fiber: 0.6 grams
- Good amounts of vitamin B1, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus and iron
If you don’t want to or can’t seem to get enough garlic through your cooking, try supplementing with capsules. It is always best to get your vitamins through food if possible though. If you notice that you are coming down with something, just increase your intake of garlic to give the invaders a run for their money. Be sure to invest in breath mints if you’re going out, mind!
We recommend avoiding additives and processed foods, which contain many harmful ingredients that contribute to poor health. Processed foods can be inflammatory and are often laden with omega-6 oils (think corn oil and soybean oil), as well as prolific nasties like refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
These additives make it difficult for your body to function; they give it plenty of extra work to do and inflammation is often the result. Grains such as bread, cereals and pasta etc., are also inflammatory and difficult to absorb. There is evidence to support the idea that grains were not part of the human diet until around 10,000 years ago - it could be argued that as you can’t consume them without first cooking them, they’re not intended for human consumption!
If you’re feeling unwell, stick to as natural a diet as possible and you’ll heal much more quickly. That means fresh, organic veggies and fruit, healthy nuts and grains, gluten-free products and a healthy dose of daily superfoods. Spirulina, maca root, ashwaganda herb and raw cacao powder are a good start and can be added to a morning smoothie.
Obviously, if you’re already feeling ill, we don’t recommend exerting yourself unnecessarily. Prevention is better than cure in this case, but moderate exercise (even when sick) can kick-start your immunity. It’s better to do so outside to get the fresh air, so just some walking or cycling can help. If you can get your circulation and lymph flowing, this will speed up your recovery no end.
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