Between cooler temperatures and holiday travel, it's hard not to get at least one head cold during the fall and winter months. People are constantly coughing and sneezing, and germs are everywhere. The good news is that there are plenty of natural alternatives to prevent and treat viruses circulating this season!
Keep hand sanitizer in your bags, and be sure to actually use it. Have some Vitamin C and Zinc lozenges on hand to take if you start feeling like you are at the start of a cold. Echinacea is also an excellent immune-boosting herb that can cut the duration of a cold, as well as decrease the severity of cold symptoms. There are many teas and cough drops on the market that have echinacea as an ingredient. Another great immunity booster is the apoptogenic herb and medicinal mushroom Chaga. Try incorporating a Chaga Elixir into your winter wellness routine to support your overall wellbeing and supercharge your immune system.
Take Your Vitamins – literally and figuratively.
The immune system is your body’s first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. To function properly, your body needs specific nutrients. The most important vitamins contributing directly to your body’s immune response include the B-vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium, and Zinc. Probiotics are also important, whether in the form of supplementation or food, to help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Taking a whole food multivitamin is always a good idea, especially during cold and flu season. (*Note: the best multivitamin for each person varies depending on multiple lifestyle factors such as overall diet, exercise routine, sleep schedule and nutritional deficiencies.)
I am a big fan of Ritual Vitamins for women - non-GMO, vegan, gluten and allergen free, and made in the USA. This supplement was designed specifically to provide women with the nutrients most commonly lacking in their diets, from sources that are easily absorbed by the body. These nutrients include Vitamin K2, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Iron, Boron, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Folate and Omega-3.
Another great option is Care/of Multivitamin which is a monthly personalized vitamin available for both men and women. This involves taking a quiz to tailor your perfect vitamin to your body's needs and provide you with necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you might be lacking. Antioxidants are necessary in the winter time, and enzymes assist your body with proper absorption of nutrients. Everyone knows Vitamin C is important for your immune system, but in conjunction, Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Zinc are also important.
Sunwarrior Immune Shield is also a great supplement option. This liquid is a raw mineral complex with fulvic acid and fortified with silver ions. This means that it gives your body additional minerals, nutrients and electrolytes. It works by delivering the silver ions to the cells of the body, resulting in a boosted immune system. Silver has been known for years to assist with killing germs, fungi, bacteria, parasites, and viruses. The fulvic acid is what efficiently helps your body absorb the nutrients. This is a great addition to water with lemon or any smoothie.
Even with supplementation, it is still vital to eat a properly balanced diet to obtain all vitamins and minerals to support your body. Vitamin supplements are great, but that is the key – they are meant to “supplement” your diet and lifestyle. Powerful antioxidants to include in your diet are beta-carotene (an inactive form of Vitamin A), Zinc, Vitamin E, Iron, and Selenium. These antioxidants can protect against illnesses and bacteria by neutralizing any harmful substances or free radicals found in the body. The foods most prominent in these vitamins include dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, berries, carrots, potatoes, nuts, and beans. The good news is that most of these healing foods are in season now, which means that they will be fresh and reasonably priced!
Regular exercise, or any physical activity, boosts immunity. Research has shown that exercise correlates with positive effects in white blood cells which help to fight disease. It also reduces stress, which is what begins to break the body down in the first place. The stress hormone cortisol is responsible for weakening the immune system and allowing your body to become more susceptible to infections and bacteria. Yoga is especially great this time of year for many reasons. Yoga can assist the body in releasing toxins, and it also helps to the calm the mind and body when holiday planning becomes a bit too overwhelming. The more relaxed you are, the better the body will sleep, and the stronger and healthier the body will be to fight off any viruses in its path. The key is to be intuitive with your body - regularly stay active, but know when your body needs to rest, relax, or recover instead.
Liquids, Liquids, Liquids
Water will assist your body in getting toxins out and help to prevent dehydration. Try to limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks if you are feeling run down because these substances will increase the risk of dehydration, and decrease the absorption of nutrients. Track your water intake, and never underestimate the healing benefits of tea or warm water with honey and lemon!
Stay warm, stay hydrated, and enjoy the season!