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IMMUNE SYSTEM: 10 TIPS TO STAY HEALTHY IN WINTER

Here at Flourish, strong immunity is king! Notwithstanding tending to your most squeezing medical problems, I’m continually thinking about the condition of your invulnerability according to your general wellbeing. It should always be getting stronger, and that is a reflection that we are restoring optimum health in all of the best ways. If you have a tendency to get sick easily, or have low energy, sinusitis or a constant runny nose, these are signs that you could use an immune boost.

Here are 10 easy habits you can start today that will boost your immune system for good:

  •  NEVER EAT OR TOUCH YOUR FACE WITHOUT WASHING YOUR HANDS FIRST

Every time I take the Tea, or walk around town, I can’t help but notice what poor habits people have when they are sick. ah!! I see so many people who are coughing, sneezing, and wiping runny noses, then touching hand rails, door handles and other surfaces that most of us will use next.

While it’s impossible to get around town without touching at least some of these communal surfaces, don’t let it freak you out. Just get in the habit of washing your hands with soap and warm water once you arrive at your destination, and you will significantly reduce your chances of getting sick.

The fastest way for pathogens to affect you is through your mouth, your nose or your eyes, so make sure you take a minute to wash your hands every time you eat something, or touch your nose or your eyes for any reason, and you will cut down on your chances of picking something up that you don’t want.

  • EAT A HOT BREAKFAST

Whether you are rocking some steel-cut oats with coconut milk, nuts & dried fruit, or you’re getting your sausage & kale scramble on, eating a HOT breakfast every day will make a huge difference in how you feel. At the risk of sounding like your high school gym teacher, starting with a warm meal in the morning, especially with veggies and protein, is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

First of all, the brain needs real food in the mornings, if you expect it to work hard. Also, when you start with food that is deeply nourishing, you have better energy and a better attention span all day. Keeping your energy high, through diet and rest, greatly contributes to a stronger immune system.

And as for warm vs cold (like yogurt, smoothies & iced coffee)? Warm or hot food is much easier on the digestive system, which means that it doesn’t take as much energy to digest. Know what that means? You get to keep that energy and use it somewhere else–like being a badass at work or having more energy for friends & family.

  •  WEAR A SCARF

WINTER

You may recall how strange you feel after getting pummeled by strong wind on a cold day–and perhaps coming down with a runny nose, headache or sneezing a few hours later. There is an acupuncture point on the back of the neck called ‘wind gate’, and it refers to conditions such as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches and chills.
Because it is hard to protect the back of your neck, it is known as a vulnerable place where pathogens can easily enter the body. {Art of War, Anyone?} The truth is, the more we are exposed to the elements, such as wind, cold, rain and snow, the harder it is to maintain immune strength and resilience. Taking a minute to cover your wind gate with a nice thick scarf will help you stay protected, even in a Boston wind storm!

  •  GET MORE SLEEP

Once the weather turns cold, all I want to do is sleep. It always freaks me out at first, but then I remember that fall & winter are the seasons for slowing down a bit, and allowing the body to restore it’s reserves. Now is the time to forget about that random Tuesday cocktail, and go home for an early evening, instead. Getting more sleep helps lower stress levels, then you can put your energy to better use.

  • TAKE VITAMIN C

It’s almost Satsuma season! In the meantime, pick up a vitamin C supplement from a high-quality producer like Pure Radiance or Garden of Life that sources the vitamin from foods rather than ascorbic acid, which is a synthetic form of C. Never underestimate the power of good ol’ vitamin C to restore a tired immune system.

  •  CUT BACK ON RAW, COLD FOODS

Raw and cold foods, like salad, veggies & hummus, ice cream, fro yo, smoothies, iced coffee, sprouts & fruit are too hard on your digestive system in cold weather. Too much of these foods, anytime, leads to low energy, gas & bloating, cold hands & feet, foggy brain, and chronic fatigue, but especially in fall & winter.
Trading in your salad for some braised chard and a sweet potato will help you feel much stronger, and will help build up a more solid immune system in no time.

  • DON’T GET A FLU SHOT

The best way to avoid getting sick is to address your immune system. Period. I’m covering a few key basic habits in this post, and I would be remiss if I didn’t address one of the biggest offenders to your health & longevity: flu shots.
Might I suggest that we collectively look beyond the mass marketing and fear mongering around the flu shot and impart some good old fashioned logic? Unless it is a life threatening illness, it’s not a good idea to directly inject pathogens and chemicals into your body.

In addition to the flu shot being a ‘best guess’ situation, in terms of the strain of illness you are receiving, flu shots contain a preservative material, often consisting of Mercury or Aluminum, which are both confirmed neurotoxins.
Do yourself a favor and stop putting poisonous things in your body, for good. The more you use logic, good food and good habits to address your health situation, the better off you will be…forever.

  • STOP TAKING ANTIBIOTICS FOR EVERY LITTLE THING

If you’ve ever had sinus issues, you may have been prescribed antibiotics….many times. Yet, the infections keep getting worse, and more prevalent, each year. So what gives?
Antibiotics were never intended for coughs, colds, flus and frequent sinus infections, but somehow, they have become amazingly over-prescribed in the US, and often for the wrong reasons.
Antibiotic use is very hard on your digestive system and your immune system. Frequent or unnecessary use leads to a depletion of your healthy gut bacteria, resulting in low energy, gas & bloating, poor digestion, abdominal pain, yeast overgrowth/candida, headaches, more frequent illnesses and a serious blow to your immune strength. Ugh. It’s just not worth it.
Consider changing your relationship to healing by saving the antibiotics for severe illnesses only, and boosting your immunity and resistance with diet, acupuncture & Chinese herbs. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel.

  • MAKE HOMEMADE SOUP

Save those chicken bones and turn them into liquid gold!

Each time you roast chicken or turkey, keep all of the bones and throw them in the freezer in a food storage bag. Once it gets full, put them into a crockpot with a few carrots, a quartered onion, a few ribs of celery, 3 bay leaves, garlic and some salt and pepper for 3-24 hours. Make soup with this broth and it will help you stay stronger and more resilient.

After simmering for a few hours, you can add some chopped kale and shiitake mushrooms to make my favorite restorative soup.
Get my bone broth recipe here.

  • BEING ON RESTORATIVE EXERCISE

Exercise can be restorative or depleting, depending on what you do and how you do it. When you are working a lot and burning the candle at too many ends, pushing yourself hard at the gym is a bad idea. On the one hand, it feels good to get your body moving, if you’ve been hovered over your computer for hours, but on the other hand, how about finding an exercise regime that restores energy rather than takes it away?

Now is the perfect time to try out a yoga class, take up meditation or pranayama or look into tai chi. All of these approaches restore your deep energy reserves, and help you get reconnected to your authentic drive and purpose.

I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the best yoga classes I’ve ever taken at my gym, downtown! Check out what they are offering at your gym or close to your office. Just make sure you go to restorative yoga, yoga flow or yin yoga, NOT power yoga, baller.

If you are interested in meditation, but could use a little support, check out my friend Morgan Dix’s incredible site AboutMeditation.com. He offers guided meditations, courses, blogs and a wonderful podcast.

GOOD LUCK PEOPLE!

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