Getting sick is such a bummer, and something is always going around this time of year. It interrupts our lives; work, our social life, training, and it just plain sucks to feel like crap. Though the season is upon us for catching nasty colds, flus, sinus infections, and other plagues, it doesn't mean getting sick is inevitable! You actually can sidestep all those bugs by boosting your immune system- follow our tips here to stay healthy all winter long.
EAT RIGHT. The good news is that if you already follow an anti-inflammatory, gut healing, nutrient dense diet (Paleo), you already have a huge advantage against infection. Be sure to stock up on the good stuff this time of year and choose your treats wisely, since getting and staying healhty starts with food.
SLEEP. Your body repairs itself and fights off and kills any nasty bacteria or viruses while you sleep. A lack of sleep can greatly suppress your immune system, which makes it vital during your waking hours. Everyone requires a different amount of zzz's, and that amount can vary depending on what's going on in our life at the moment (anywhere from 6-9+ hours is "normal"). You know you are getting the right amount if you feel rested when you wake up and are ready to conquer the day with energy. Shut off the TV and go to bed already, the next episode of The Voice will be waiting for you on Hulu tomorrow!
MANAGE YOUR STRESS. This can be a hard one this time of year with end of the year deadlines at work, holiday events, family visits, gifts to buy, and so on. But this is paramount in preventing illness because stress causes your body to release hormones (including cortisol) that suppress your immune system, which can in turn prevent your body from fighting off bacteria and viruses that make you sick. Remember to make time for your favorite stress-relief activities, whether that's meditation, going for a walk, reading an enjoyable book, working out, laughing with a friend, taking a hot bath, or getting a massage- whatever works for you! Also remember that you don't have to be superwoman this time of year! You do NOT need to attend every party, make that perfect paleo homemade dish for dinner guests, buy the perfect gift for everyone on your list, or host impeccable Martha-would-be-proud parties! Give yourself a break, slow down, listen to your body, and only do the things that you really want to do, have the energy for, and can do while maintaining good self care.
TRY TO AVOID ALL THAT SUGAR. We know- it's EVERYWHERE! This is another hard one this time of year with all of the yummy goodies hanging around, but next time that pumpkin spiced latte or cute little sugar cookie is staring you in the face, keep in mind that sugar greatly impacts the ability of your white blood cells to do their job, which is to demolish bacteria: It inhibits their power by up to a whopping 50%! The effect sugar has on your white blood cells can happen as quickly as thirty minutes after eating that cute little cookie, and last for hours afterwards. Instead, make a yummy paleo treat that is sweetened with fruit instead of refined sugar.
WASH THOSE PAWS. Regular soap (not antibacterial soap) and warm water will do the trick to rid your hands of any bugs you may have picked up. No need to go all crazy and wash 20 times a day! Just make sure to wash at least after the bathroom (duh!), before you eat, and when you get home.
EXCERSIZE. Get out there and get moving! Exercise has been shown to enhance the ability of the infection fighting cells in your body to do their job. Of course we love CrossFit, but just make sure to do what ever exercise you love and lets you have fun, raises your heartrate, makes you sweat, and gets your fit! Of course, if you feel a bug coming on, it's wise to rest instead of forcing exercise and "sweating it out" (not a thing!). Your body (and your gym-mates!) will thank you, and you'll be back in the gym before you know it.
DRINK UP. Being well hydrated allows your body to properly flush out anything that could potentially make you sick. We like to suggest aiming for drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and adjust as you see fit. (If your pee is really yellow, you're not drinking enough! It should be very light yellow to almost clear).
GET SOME HEALTHY BUGS. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, or taking a probiotic does wonders for our bodies in ways that are still being discovered. Our immune system is almost entirely in our gut, and the precious micro biome that exists within our gut is the gatekeeper to dozens of various physiological systems in our body. Eating fermented foods and/or taking a probiotic can help populate our gut with the kind of bacteria your body needs in order to stay healthy, and fight the unwanted bacteria that can make you sick.
FERMENTED COD LIVER OIL (FCLO). We know, it sounds so yummy doesn't it? But your grandmother was really on to something when she recommended that cod liver oil when you were sick as a kid. FCLO is an amazing supplement containing a plethora of fat-soluble vitamins that kick your immune system into gear (like vitamin D) and fatty acids that reduce inflammation.
IF YOU FEEL SOMETHING COMING ON At the first sign, rest, drink some bone broth, make some paleo chicken soup, stay hydrated, sleep, and stay home from work. You can also boost your odds of nipping it in the bed with supplements like zinc, echinacea, vitamin C, oil of oregano, and elderberry.
Note: If you are a She Thrives newsletter subscriber, you will recieve our recipes for our immune boosting tea & fresh juice, which will both help get your defenses up for whatever flu season might bring your way!
May the powers of whole foods, lots of rest, and self care be with you this season! Do you have a favorite anti-cold tactic? Share below, we'd love to hear it!