January is said to be the month that hosts many dreaded colds and flu bugs. Not only that, but it is historically known as one of the most depressing months in North America.
Why is it a dull month to many? I think it is the lack of sunshine, flu’s and colds, and a dull feeling after the excitement of the holidays.
Many people find themselves battling cold after cold, having less energy than they would like and even feeling alittle blue.
But, rather than grab for cough syrup and cold remedies, how about boosting your immune system so you are rock solid and don’t get sick at all?
Wouldn’t you like to cruise through winter healthy, happy and have boundless amounts of energy?
I know I would!
Lets Clear Some Things Up First
Many people believe that if you go out into the cold weather dressed improperly, you will catch a cold. Whether that is an old wives tale or a good parental scare tactic, it’s just not true.
Cold weather actually boost your IMMUNE SYSTEM. Going from cold to hot gets your lymphatic system moving, heart pumping and immune system engaged. It’s like giving your immune system a workout!
What About the Germs?
Do you think that there are actually more germs floating around in the winter than in the summer?
The germs are still there. It’s actually the sun’s UVB & UVA Rays that increase your absorption of Vitamin D keeping your immune system strong in the summer months.
Yes, you still get Vitamin D in the winter just less is absorbed from less UVB & UVA Rays.
I should mention that people are generally happier in the summer. With happiness comes less stress, and since stress is a major immune system inhibitor, it’s no wonder less people get sick in the summer.
Could It Be Less Exercise?
Like it or not, for the most part, people are not as active in the winter months. They stay indoors more often than not, and don’t engage in as many sports. Even getting to the gym can prove to be a big feat for some.
Exercise improves circulation, stimulates the immune system, detoxifies your body and raises energy levels. Not only is it essential for good immunity, but it gives you a good boost of 'feel good hormones.'
So, exercise is essential for warding off flu bugs for sure.
7 Tips for Increasing Immunity
1. Exercise – Make sure that you are getting at least 30-60 minutes of exercise daily. This will increase your immunity, help you stay strong and fit and give you the 'joy du vive' you are looking for in the winter.
Have you ever noticed that people who exercise in the winter are happier?
2. Vitamin D – Supplement with Vitamin D to increase your body’s immunity in the winter months. Vitamin D helps you fight infections of all kinds.
A study in Japan, showed that school aged children taking Vitamin D everyday during the winter, reduced their risk of catching the flu.
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is 1000 iu for adults. But, I have found that most people living in the Northern Hemisphere require more to maintain optimal levels. Make sure to get tested with your doctor to see where your Vitamin D levels are.
You can purchase Vitamin D at health food sotre or online: Click here for Vitamin D
3. Get Adequate Rest – Let’s face it, even with the dark days upon us, a lot of us have a tendency to stay up way too late. Lack of rest not only decreases your body’s energy, but also increases your stress levels. Stress lowers immunity.
You should be striving to get to bed by 10pm everyday to keep your body’s energy up and therefore your immunity.
4. Probiotics – One of the best immune boosters are good flora or Probiotics. Did you know that good good flora make up the first line of defense for your immune system. Good flora also create about 80% of your immunity. So, it goes without saying that to have great immunity, you definitely need to have a strong gut health.
I personally supplement with good flora containing fermented foods like kefir and kombucha on a daily basis. You can also use Probiotics, which can be found in your natural health food store or in my store.
Buy Probitoics Here
Make sure you buy a Probiotics that are stored in the fridge to maintain potency.
5. Herbal Immune Boosters – There are many Herbal Immune Boosters you can use in the winter for both prevention and treatment. The key is consistency. My favorvites include:
- Goji Berries
- Maitake Mushrooms
- Astragalus Root
- Pine Needles
Echinacea – This is one of the more commonly known immune boosters, but I find that it is not always used correctly. Echinacea is widely used to fight infections, especially common colds and other upper respiratory infections. I have also used it at the first signs of mastitis quite effectively. The key is to use it at the first signs of infection: virus or bacteria.
So how do you use Echinacea?
Firstly, it’s more potent and effective to use a tincture made from fresh Echinacea rather than dried. Dried Echinacea has normally lost a lot of its potency.
Echinacea tincture can be used on the first signs of a cold or flu. But, 20-30 drops two to three times a day is usually not that effective. For the first sign of a cold or infection, Echinacea can be used safely every 1-2 hours 1tsp or 30 drops, until the cold or infection subsides.
As always if you have an infection that does not improve, you should always see a doctor. Also, if you have an auto-immune disease you should speak with a practitioner before using it.
You can purchase Echinacea at health food stores or online.
Buy Echinacea Here
Goji Berries – For more than 5000 years the Chinese have used Goji Berries as part of their traditional medicine. It’s known as ‘The Fruit of Longevity;’ having amazing immune enhancing qualities.
Goji Berries are loaded with Vitamin C and I love to get it from natural sources.
Most Vitamin C supplements found on store shelves are derived from corn and most likely genetically modified (GMO). So that’s a big win for Goji Berries.
Goji Berries also reduce inflammation, improve resistance to cancer cell growth, nourish blood, reduce allergies & dizziness, improve vision and even help with low back pain. WOW!
You can buy Goji Berries in health food stores, grocery stores and online.
Buy Goji Berries Here
Maitake Mushrooms – They contain Beta Glucan, a compound responsible for immune support and macrophages, which are immune cells that eat up viruses.
In addition to that, Maitake mushrooms help turn on natural killer cells (NKC), which give viruses the 1-2 punch combo out of your body!
Lastly, they are loaded with polysaccharides, reduce inflammation, help with collagen production, energy production and so much more.
I’m sure that in future studies we will see more amazing qualities of this mushroom.
You can buy Maitake Mushrooms in health food stores or online.
Buy Maittake Mushrooms here
Astragalus Root - This is another herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an ENERGY & IMMUNE BOOSTER. It’s known as an adaptogenic herb, which means it lowers your stress hormone cortisol. Stress hormones inhibit your immune system, so Astragalus is a powerful herb to keep on hand.
Astragalus also strengthen the lungs, which can lessen your susceptibility to respiratory infections and viruses and contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation.
This is something I like to take everyday in the winter to keep my immune system top notch.
You can buy Astragalus at health food stores or online.
Buy Astragalus Root here
Pine Needles – Did you know that pine needles are extremely high in Vitamin C & A? Not only that, but they are also a very powerful antioxidant, antiviral and immune system powerhouse. Pine Needles have been used for eons by native communities to boost Vitamin C levels, prevent cold and flu.
Pine Needles are great for preventing oxidative stress, beneficial for your skin and hair, and even have been known to improve vision.
Pine Needle tea also is antiseptic, helping to prevent bad bacteria and microbes from affecting your body. They also help treat respiratory cold and infection by expectorating phlegm and neutralizing pathogens found in the sinuses.
All you need are some Pine Needles and a pot of water. A good handful will do. Just bring water to a boil, turn off, put Pine Needles in pot, cover and let steep for 15-30mins. Strain and enjoy.
6. Local Raw Honey – Honey is perhaps one of the best immune system boosters out there. The world health organization lists honey as a demulcent, which treats coughs. I have used it for dry cough quite successfully.
Raw honey contains bee pollen, which is also known to ward off infections, prevent allergies, and is a natural source of energy.
Honey has been extensively studied and has been shown to increase disease fighting polyphenols in the blood. Polyphenols are part of what makes honey a great choice for both prevention and treatment of colds.
7. Laughter - They say laughter is the best medicine. I think this is more true than we realize. Not only does laughter increase our sense of well being, inner happiness and energy, but it creates a strong immune system.
It is one of the easiest ways to boost immunity.
I think that as adults we tend to laugh less than children. Perhaps we should take a tip from the kids and be more care-free in life?
So, how can you bring more laughter into your life? Make a commintment to laugh everyday, even if there is nothing to laugh at. Some would call this Laughter Yoga. Simply laugh. Soon you will be laughing at how silly it is and it will become infectious.
You could also make time to watch a comedy, visit friends (this usually brings about some laughs) and even play with kids. It doesn't matter how you do it, just make time for laughing each day.