Unless you live in a bubble, never leave your home, or are simply not fessing up, you know at least one person suffering from a bad cold, flu, or even swine flu this season. To help thwart a similar fate, you could get a flu shot-- if, that is, you can find a pharmacy, doctor, or clinic still carrying them, but the likelihood of that is honestly low. No injections left? Stores are stocking their shelves with drinks, potions and pills of immune-boosting promises. But popping pills and sipping power drinks only goes so far when it comes to keeping your immune system pumping. An overall healthy lifestyle that includes a green, nutrient-rich diet and exercise helps to bolster your body's natural defenses so that when outside offenders (like cold germs) try to ambush, your inherent resistance is strong enough to strike back!
Here are 9 ways to up your body's natural defenses to bolster your immune system and ward off illness this sick season.
Staying healthy may be as simple as taking your daily dose of "wellness." At least according to Jenny Helling, the director at the Healing Arts Center at Cavallo Point Lodge at The Lodge at Golden Gate in San Francisco, California. She suggests the center's "Fire-Wellness Shot" which the spa makes fresh for guests. The health-preserving concoction consists of equal parts:
Add water if you want to make it an all day sipper.
Combined, the small-dose drink is designed to boost the immune system while infusing a little fire into your step!
Stress has been proven to weaken the immune system. Instead of letting life's frustrations take you down and force you into bed rest, take control of your stress level and do something to calm your body and mind. Knit a scarf, go for a stroll, get a massage, take a yoga class, anything to take the edge off.
Cardio and resistance exercise does more than burn off calories, it help circulate your blood, pumping germ-fighting cells through your body and washing away toxins. In fact, 45 minutes of exercise, five days a week has been shown to minimize the amount of sick days by up to 50 percent. But that doesn't mean you have to hit the gym or drop a lot of dough on at-home cardio equipment. Before winter's wrath keeps you inside, take advantage of the clean fall air and take your workouts outside. Take a hike, go for a run, ride a bike, or just play tag with the kids. Just don't overdo it since extended physical activity (like running a marathon) can actually cause too much stress to the body, depleting its resources and weakening your immune system.
Sugars, saturated fats, and white breads are all acid-causing foods while fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally alkaline. So what does that matter? A healthy acid/alkaline balance preserves optimum health and well-being, increased immune function and weight loss. Problem is: the average diet tips the scales when it comes to being highly acidic. To up your alkaline, insert a few of these basic alkaline foods into your diet: fruits, vegetables, sea vegetables, grains, miso, tofu, spices, sprouted beans and nuts, and dairy foods.
Low-fat diets (fat making up 25-30 percent of your daily calories) help ward off infections. If you want to keep your body in tip-top shape, stay away from any saturated and Trans fatty acids but up your intake of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, proven to have immune-modulating benefits. But don't just grab any omega-3 oil. Studies has shown that omega-3s found in fish oil are slightly more potent than the omega-3 found in plant sources such as flax seed. But regardless of source, they are still effective and good.
Try yoga postures like Virasana or Child's Pose to calm the mind, Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Plough, and Sun Salutation to circulate toxins downwards, and Spinal Twist to help twist out the toxins and move them out of your system.
Mixing ginger with lemon juice and rubbing the combo on your forehead helps relieve sickness-instigated headaches according to Ayurvedic belief. It's all about bringing the body back to balance. If you're a "Kapha" (earth), Vamana Therapy is used to correct imbalance. For Pitta (fire) Verachena (purgation) is most effective. Those of Vata (air) makeup best respond to Basti (enema) to help regulate imbalance.
If you want to stay healthy you have to get enough sleep, plain and simple. While you sleep, you body is working hard to regenerate and restore your body, healing from the damage done during the day. Sleeping between 7-9 hours each night helps amp up your white blood cell count-- your body's natural immune system defenders, helping to keep you healthy this sick season.
Studies have shown that petting your best friend (from the animal world), be it a dog, cat or even a mouse, can increase your immune system.