Having just worked our way through a couple nasty bugs circulating within the house, I am all about natural immunity boosters right now! After sanitizing every doorknob and light-switch in the house, we’re all making sure our bodies are equipped for the bugs that seem to make their appearance around winter, keeping our immune systems healthy. Here are some great tips that can help keep you healthy all winter long and combat those pesky cold-weather germs that seem to circulate especially with kids around.
Natural Immunity Boosters for the Winter
- Stock up on Vitamin C and D. If you’re living far enough away from the equator, chances are your vitamin D levels plummet in the winter due to the angle of the sun’s rays and lack of direct sunlight we can obtain compared to the summer months. The further you are from the equator, the less ultraviolet B there is available for our bodies to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Also, as a rule of thumb, the lighter your skin, the more quickly your body will make vitamin D, so fellow pasties rejoice! While vitamin D can be found in foods like fatty fish, the sun is the absolute best place to get this essential vitamin. Taking a high quality vitamin D supplement from May to October, though, can help us keep our D levels up and help us fight off cold and flu viruses. It’s a great immune booster. We’ve been giving our little guy the baby D drops since he was a few months old (once winter hit) and we’re a big fan of these natural ones. Vitamin C is also super important in strengthening our immune system and helping us stay healthy. The good news with this one is that we can find it in abundant quantities in our food all year round– fresh fruit and veggies are excellent sources of Vitamin C. Think smoothies, fresh oranges and other citrus fruits, bell peppers, and dark green, leafy vegetables. This clementine mango cream smoothie is a favourite vitamin C blast winter smoothie.
- Add Some Spice! We try to cook with onions, garlic, ginger and other spices as much as possible, especially during the winter months. Hearty winter meals can often benefit with some onions and garlic, which help boost the immune system. Other great health wonder spices? Cayenne pepper (my favourite!), curry and turmeric. A hearty veggie chilli is the perfect healthy winter meal.
- Up Your Positive Bacteria. Our digestive and gut health is so crucial to keeping things regulated in our body and imperative for a healthy immune system. Fermented and whole foods like miso, raw sauerkraut, live-cultured yogurt, kombucha, tempeh and kefir are chalk full of probiotics, which all help boost the immune system. I also find it helpful to keep a high-quality probiotic on hand, especially for when I feel something coming on. Ask your local natural-health clinic for some recommendations. Hint: the best kinds are normally refrigerated and have different sources of bacteria.
- Avoid Processed Foods and Refined Sugars. Of course we all cheat once in a while (especially over the holidays), but for the most part, try to avoid any processed foods and refined sugars (this can be anything from frozen pizza and deli meats, to packaged cookies and chips and even some granolas and energy bars). Try to stick to homemade, whole foods whenever possible. Eating processed food and bad sugar makes it harder for your body to fight off those viruses.
- Get Lots of Sleep. As a parent, I know how tough this one can be, especially if you’re caring for other sickies in the house, but it’s so crucial to get that 7-8 hours of sleep at night if possible to help your body fight off any bugs and strengthen our immune system. Take up any family members or friends on their offers of help if required.
- Work up a Sweat! Regular exercise boosts our immune system and also helps us stay in shape. Even a daily walk or a quick yoga session at home can work wonders.
- Stock up on Natural Supplements. Whenever one of us feels something come on, we increase our probiotic intake and take some natural immunity strengtheners. Our go-tos are: Echinacea and goldenseal, apple cider vinegar and oil of oregano. For pregnant or nursing moms, goldenseal and oil of oregano should be avoided.
- Chill Out. Relaxing, whether it’s watching a movie, curling up on the couch to read a good book, doing some yoga or indulging in a spa day, is incredibly beneficial not only for our minds but also our bodies. Since stress plays a big role in physical illness, remember to take care of yourself and try to avoid stress as much as possible.