I help moms stop emotional eating through mindful eating and yoga
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With Thanksgiving coming in one weeks time and Christmas around the corner, the last thing you want is to get sick right now. This is the busiest time of year with shopping, family functions, and holiday parties. I bet that your calendar is close to bursting! There is boats loads of fun to be had, but not if you are stuck in bed with runny nose and a sore throat. Sometimes there is literally nothing you can do to prevent being exposed to a virus, but there are steps that you can take to ensure that your immune system is primed and performing at its best. Below, I have listed some of my top tips for boosting your immune system and staying healthy through the holidays.
1. Move Your Body
Take a long hike and enjoy the beautiful fall weather, do some mountain climbers next to your desk, or bust some dance moves to holiday tunes. There has been quite a bit of the latter at our house since last weekend! When we move our body, we stimulate our lymphatic system. , which is part of the immune system. And if you can work up a sweat, and get rid of some extra toxins, even better!
2. Get Enough Sleep
The body needs an average of 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night to function optimally. When you don’t get enough sleep, the wheels start to fall off the wagon. Your brain doesn’t work as well, your fuse gets shorter, hormones get wonky, and guess what… your immune system starts to break down. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. So make sure you sleep in after dancing until the crack of dawn at that holiday party! If you want to read more about sleep, check out this article –> How to Sleep Better
3. Eat Foods that Boost the Immune System
Our immune system relies on a lot of nutrients to perform optimally and the best place to get those nutrients is whole foods. Load up on probiotic rich foods (like yogurt and sauerkraut), lean protein, healthy fat (nuts, olives, avocado), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts), leafy greens, and antioxidant rich fruits (blueberries, pomegranates, oranges). Foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and bell peppers also help to support a strong immune system.
Lastly, ginger, turmeric & garlic are immunity superfoods, so make some warming curries and take advantage of Ayurvedic wisdom. You can also sip on golden milk and ginger lemon tea throughout the day if you aren’t a fan of curry. I have posted recipes below!
4. Avoid Foods that Weaken the Immune System
Foods that are associated with increased inflammation may weaken the immune system. Therefore, it is wise to avoid highly processed foods, foods high in salt, as well as refined carbohydrates. These foods often come packaged with additives. One 2017 study showed that foods containing additives such as sucralose, aspartame, carboxymethylcellulose, polysorbate-80, sodium, and carrageenan, may increase ones risk of developing and a chronic inflammatory or metabolic condition (1). So start checking those labels, or better yet, stick to the perimeter of the grocery and buy foods fresh.
5. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is important for keeping all of the systems in the body running smoothly. It carries oxygen to cells, allows for the removal of toxins from the body, and helps the immune system to fight viruses. It can be easy to forget to drink enough water during the holidays. We run from one activity to the next and don’t think about it. Plus, it’s cold outside and perhaps cold water doesn’t sound as great to you as it did during the hot summer months. If that’s the case, consider drinking warm herbal teas throughout the day. But remember, green, black and white teas all contain caffeine, and caffeine is a diuretic. That means it actually dehydrates you, which is clearly not what we want. Instead reach for herbal teas such as chamomile, mint, ginger, lemongrass, and hibiscus tea. And while we are on the topic of hydration, alcohol also dehydrates you, so make sure to extra replenish after those holiday parties.
6. Manage Stress
Like sleep, stress has a significant impact on our immune system. We are more susceptible to infections and catching viruses when we are in a state of stress. When we are stressed, our body is in fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) and what we want to be in rest and recovery mode (parasympathetic nervous system) most of the time.
How do you do that? If you don’t already have a meditation practice, now might be a good time to start. Meditation has proven to be effective for reducing stress and anxiety. Exercise and yoga are also great tools for managing stress. And don’t underestimate the power of a smile. Smile and laugh as much as you can.
Golden Milk Recipe
Makes 2 servings:
Instructions: Grate the turmeric and ginger if using fresh. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy!
Lemon & Ginger Tea
Makes 1 serving
Instructions: Simmer ginger in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Remove ginger tea from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in lemon juice and stevia to taste.