It is that time of year again where sickness seems to run through schools, works places and households. The best way to stay on top of these microbes that circulate is to support your body’s natural defence.
As we enter this transition season, we watch nature prepare to rest for the winter, which is just around the corner. It is also a time that we tend to get run down and our immune system is often less than optimal. It is the belief in Traditional Chinese Medicine that our bodies should live in harmony with the cycles of the seasons around us but most of us have lost this harmonious connection with nature. Winter is Yin in nature and a time of rest, introspection, a time of grounding and to gather and conserve energy. We instead expend our energy, keep busy and often run ourselves down, depleting our energy.
Take time to reflect on the above concept and how ask yourself how you prepare and support your body for the winter.
Our immune system is complex and needs to be supported on many different levels. Here are 6 ways to support your immune system this season.
Rest is one of the simplest things we can do but often the one we resist the most. The days are shorter and we are meant to sleep longer not push on into the early hours of the morning. We put a lot of demands on our bodies and if we expect them to work under these demands we must allow it to rest so it can do its job.
2. Wash your hands
During the winter we are in closer proximity to others as we are often indoors so viruses spread more easily. It is important to protect ourselves by handwashing. Wash the palms of your hands, dorsal side and in between the fingers. Be sure to spend enough time under the water. Wash your hands to the tune of Happy Birthday and that should be long enough.
3. Keep your gut healthy
The gastrointestinal tract is important in digestion, absorption as well as immunity. Because a large percentage of the immune system lies in the GI tract, it is important we keep the integrity of the gut. What affects the integrity of the gut? Alcohol, gluten and other food sensitivities, food additives, heavy metals, stress, sleep deprivation and more.
Supplements are not a substitute for good nutrition. We need to be committed to healthy eating; a diet comprised of whole foods, minimal intake of sugar, processed foods and food additives (if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it). With healthy eating it is also important to decrease alcohol intake and increase water intake and other liquids such as herbal teas and green tea. EGCG (a catechin) found in Green Tea, is a potent inhibitor to influenza replication so drink up! In the honuoring of the change of season it is also good to remember to add warming foods to your diet such as soups and stews, root vegetables, ginger and garlic.
5. Reduce Stress
While a short duration of stress can be healthy for the body, the prolonged states of stress we are used to, has a negative impact on our immune system. Find ways to rest and relax on a daily basis. Surround yourself with supportive people and good company, take in a yoga class, learn how to breathe properly and take time for yourself daily to do something that nourishes you.
As the days gets shorter and the temperature changes it is easy to feel like hibernating. It is important at this time to keep active. Remember it doesn’t need to be difficult but it is important to get the lymphatic system moving. Some activities to explore besides the typical cardio and resistance training at the gym include yoga, pilates, walking and remember that shovelling those walks is also exercise!
In addition to the above there are also supplements, herbs and remedies that can help which include a multi vitamin/mineral, Vitamin D, garlic, probiotics, immune herbs such as astragalus, echinacea and eleutrococcos. As well there are several homeopathic preparations. Remember that supplements are there to supplement proper nutrition not replace it.
Be kind to yourselves and enjoy a healthy winter season!
Dr. Brandy takes a holistic and individualized approach to medicine, utilizing a combination of botanical medicine, nutrition, homeopathy and lifestyle and is also trained in Neuroemotional Technique (NET). An integration of these is used to treat a wide range of conditions including but not limited to Digestive concerns, Women’s Health, hormonal issues, pediatrics and a special interest in addressing Stress and its numerous effects on the body.