The new year is in full swing and so it seems the flu and colds are upon us as well. Now is the time to refocus on health and wellness for yourself and your family to minimize the effects of colds and flu or even avoid them altogether. There are several nutrition related tips to help boost your immune system and even to specifically use when you feel a cold or flu coming on.
Water: Do not discount the importance of clean, pure water for your health. The air is drier as the temperature drops, making water intake even more important this time of year. Try warm water with a squeeze of lemon, it can not only warm you up on a chilly day but the lemon is great for digestion. Herbal and green teas are a great option too. Avoid caffeinated and sugary beverages as these further dehydrate the body and sugars suppress immune function.
Avoid sugars: Avoid sugars and foods that turn into sugar quickly in the body – these include refined flours and fruit juices. Refined flours/ grains and fruit juices both lack the fibrous portion of these foods, allowing them to very quickly turn to sugars in the body, and sugars suppress immune function. Try sprouted and whole grains or grain alternatives such as quinoa.
Get enough protein: Proteins are not only the building blocks for key metabolic compounds, cells and tissues, but they are essential for a strong immune system and detoxification.
Include immune boosting herbs, spices & vegetables: Garlic, onions, ginger, oregano, and turmeric are very supportive of both immune function and detoxification pathways. Cruciferous vegetables are especially great detoxifiers and provide key vitamins and important phytonutrients too.
Good gut microbes: Healthy gut microbes are essential for overall gut health – remember the majority of your immune system is in your gut, so you cannot have a strong immune system without a healthy gastrointestinal tract. A high quality daily probiotic or cultured vegetables are a great way to incorporate healthy microbes in your diet. Start with ½ cup of cultured vegetables per day, and increase to up to ½ cup per meal.
Get enough sleep & exercise: Your body replenishes key biochemical compounds needed for detoxification and immune system support while you sleep, making sufficient and restful sleep critical. Exercise is beneficial not only for physical body fitness, but exercise supports healthy gastrointestinal function and supports detoxification through the skin as well.
When you feel a cold coming on… gargle with 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in 8oz of water, you can even swallow the mixture after you gargle, the raw apple cider vinegar is great for healthy digestion. Continue to gargle morning, night and several times during the day for as long as you feel a cold/ flu coming on or you have a cold/flu, plus 3 days after you feel better. Better yet, don’t wait to feel sick, during this time of year gargle before work or school and again before bed prophylactically – especially if you have been exposed to someone who is ill or you work or travel in very public areas.
Roasted Broccoli Recipe:
This recipe is simple, but oh how tasty broccoli is when roasted versus steamed!
Cut and wash 2 heads of organic broccoli. Toss in bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, add garlic powder and just a dash of chili pepper. Toss well, spread broccoli on cooking sheet, bake at 400° until just tender to fork, about 10 minutes.