The winter season brings joy for the holidays, but it also brings the threat of sickness as the temperatures drop. Having not been sick with a cold, flu, or virus for about 10 years, I have figured out how to stay healthy year after year. Granted, I'm not around kids very often, but I do work at a gym every day which is a huge breeding ground for germs. Today, I'm sharing my top tips for staying healthy this winter season and avoiding all the not-so-fun illnesses that are plaguing everyone else.
1. Focus on Gut Health
Every single post, I seem to mention gut health and for good reason. Your gut is CRUCIAL to your overall health, especially your immune system. Taking a high quality probiotic, avoiding inflammatory foods, and eating gut-healing foods (like raw sauerkraut or kombucha) are great ways to keep your gut health in check.
Not getting enough sleep puts your immune system in a tough situation, as sleep is when your body focuses on healing and repairing. You can't expect to stay healthy and/or get healthy if you aren't getting enough sleep! I started going to bed at 9pm every night in high school and have continued that practice ever since. It has made a huge impact on my body's ability to heal!
3. Reduce Stress
Like gut health, I mention stress all the time. If you are stressed, your immune system takes a hit as it works in overdrive. Focus on taking breaks and breaths throughout the day, get a massage, take a walk outside - do whatever you need to do to reduce stress in your life.
4. Eat Real Food, Especially Vegetables
Eating plenty of real food in a PFC balanced template will ensure that you're avoiding the common inflammatory foods that harm your immune system (gluten, soy, sugar, vegetable oils, conventional dairy) and focusing on the nutrient rich whole foods will help keep your immune system strong. My favorite superfoods for immune system health are liver, leafy greens (and all veggies in general), raw sauerkraut, wild caught seafood (especially salmon), and kombucha. Bone broth is another superfood that is critical in times of sickness. You can make bone broth quite easily (recipe here) or you can buy it too. My favorite brands are Epic, Kettle and Fire, and Osso Good Bones.
5. Consider "Supplemental" Support
I hate supplements and pills, so what I mean by "supplemental" support is products like essential oils that will help boost and support your immune system. DoTerra has a line of products called OnGuard that are specially formulated to help with immune system health. Since I'm really not ever sick, I haven't purchased the oil itself, but I do plan on getting the laundry detergent, cleaner concentrate, and the hand wash soon! However, for those that are sick regularly, grabbing the oil blend and/or the softgels for additional immune support would be a great idea!
6. Exercise and Get Outside
Although it is colder outside, it is important to get some exposure to sunlight when possible to help keep our vitamin D levels adequate through the winter. Plus, making sure to make exercise a regular part of your week goes a long way in keeping you healthy. However, there is a point of exercising too much (overtraining) which will make you more susceptible to sickness. Usually, I recommend exercising about 45-60 minutes 3-6 days per week. Make sure to take at least one rest day per week, and do strength training too - not just cardio!
For staying healthy, I'm NOT a fan of the flu shot (my opinion) and using anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is one of the conventional products that I absolutely hate. We need some good bacteria in our bodies, so it makes no sense to kill everything with chemicals all the time. Wash your hands with a natural, gentle soap, and you should be fine.
Keeping your immune system strong by watching your gut health, sleep, stress, food, and exercise is the best way to ensure that you are ready to fight off any illness that comes your way!