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Tip(ful) Tuesday: Take Control of Your Immunity

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

steel cut oatsA foreword disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The tips provided are based on my personal experience. Talk to your primary care physician about ways you can enhance your immunity with supplements and natural foods.

This is a follow-up to Sunday's post in which I mentioned that I had a cold last week that was so mild it hardly registered. I was largely asymptomatic except for that familiar scratchy throat and a day of sneezing/coughing. I decided to share my immune-strengthening program that I have been following since the summer in preparation for cold/flu season. I used to get a bad cold at least twice a year, but decided to start being proactive about my health once I learned a few things from a holistic practioner:

  • Did you know your immune system resides in your gut? By simply eating right, you can build a resistance to the cold and flu or minimize symptoms and the length of your illness. This means consuming foods that strengthen your immunity and avoiding those that suppress it--- like caffeine, sugar and processed foods. I make a cinnamon/honey spread that I eat on spelt bread once a day and boil a piece of ginger root in water and drink it as a tea. I also take a vitamins and herbal supplements in the form of 1,000 IU/daily of Vitamin D, an Echinacea/Goldenseal (take 10 days on and 3 days off), and probiotics. I took zinc lozenges while I was sick because zinc is known to shorten the length of colds.
  • Do you treat your body like a temple? Your body's cells, tissues and systems are constantly regenerating and needs its rest to perform this function. Getting enough sleep will help your immune system fight off an infection. If you do get sick, it will help you recover faster. This step was harder for me to follow while caring for an infant, which is probably why I came down with a cold in the first place. In addition to restorative sleep, you need to decrease stress (I'm not saying "stop stressing," that's impossible!)...just that you should find a way to combat stress so that it doesn't interfere with your health. Exercise is my weapon of choice. I get a mood boost from the endorphins and an immunity boost!
  • Do you practice good hygiene? I am shocked when I see a woman walk out of the ladies room without washing her hands. I am annoyed when I see sick people sneezing or coughing at the store without covering up. This is how the cold and flu spreads...poor sanitary habits. Wash your hands frequently; keep them away from your eyes, nose and mouth so you don't introduce an infection; and never sneeze or cough into them. I know the recommendation is to use a tissue or the crook of your arm (but this where I cradle my baby). If I didn't have a tissue nearby when I needed to cough or sneeze I would cover my mouth with my hands and sanitize immediately.
Get Healthy, Get Happy!


Kim @ What's That Smell said...

I am horrified when I am in a restroom and women don't wash their hands.

I have been eating really well too the only thing I cannot give up is some caffeine. I have about 3/4 to 1 cup of caffeinated coffee. If I don't I get headaches and feel sluggish. Same if I don't eat carbs for breakfast, it feels like my blood sugar is low and I might pass out. I know I could wean myself off it but after 20 years it would seriously be like withdrawal. I recently tried for a week and the headaches got worse not better....

Still creeped out about people not washing their hands after the bathroom. ICK

Unknown said...

@ Kim: I understand needing the caffeine fix. my husband is the same way. He started drinking coffee when he was in HS and he gets headaches if he doesn't get his java once a day. We all have our thing. mine is sugar. I spent six months detoxing to get rid of the cravings...it was rough. I felt like a drug addict going through withdrawal. LOL!

maya rickards said...

I think I've got all but the reduce stress under control. I used to try to do too much and cut out a couple hours of sleep every night. No more, I was a monster. I must have 8 hours, my doc said thats a lot but I don't care thats what I need.

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