Look, I have an immune system of steel. OK? You too? Have you made it through this entire winter, so far, with no cold or flu in site? Good for you. But during these dog days of winter, WE ARE BEING SWARMED BY COOTIES. Cold and flu season is in full swing again and honestly, it’s only going to get worse right as the weather starts to get a little warmer. The great thing about eating PHFF! is that it keeps us pretty healthy year round. Whole foods, especially grass fed meats, fatty fish and vegetables are so jam packed with nutrients that your body is just kind of set up to fight illness. I really don’t remember the last time I had a cold or flu [knock.on.wood], and it’s because I eat balanced and I generally follow all of these guidelines year round. Except #4. I need therapy.
1. Avoid sugar.
Sugar suppresses the immune system, sends your blood sugar on a rollercoaster, screws up your hormones and throws your whole body out of whack. Seriously, there is nothing good about it. One place that I find people have the most difficulty with this is breakfast. Cereal is a blood sugar control killer. Grains + Sugar does not make you a fat burning machine. I’ve been seriously crushing on Chia Pudding in the morning as a cereal or oatmeal substitute.I found this recipe on Aloha’s healthy recipe collection and it’s my favorite – except I swap half of the coconut milk for Greek yogurt to make it PHFF!
2. Up your supplements.
But, you don’t need as many as you think you do if you’re eating fruits, vegetables, fermented foods and grass fed/organic animal products every day. Here’s a few load up on during cold and flu season that really support the immune system: vitamin D3, zinc, vitamin C, oil of oregano, probiotics and cod liver oil.
3. Drink hot liquids
Any hot liquid can sooth a sore throat and warm you up. But bone broth [homemade broth slow cooked with organic or grass-fed bones] is incredibly therapeutic as it contains gelatin and collagen which is essential for a healthy gut. Healthy gut = healthy immune system, guaranteed. Hot green, black or oolong tea is another great choice for an antioxidant boost. If you’re already starting to feel crappy, whip of a healing cocktail of hot water, lemon, honey and pure ginger juice. This is especially helpful if you feel like you’ve caught something that’s upper respiratory.
4. Chill the f*ck out.
Seriously, relax. There is almost nothing harder on our immune system than “bad stress”. Bad stress being you freaking out. If you need to take a time out, go get a massage, take a bath, read a book or set aside some time every day or a few days a week to take a walk. Meditation and/or prayer is especially powerful, but if that’s difficult, dedicated walking is a great way to slow down and just chillax.
5. Sleep 7-9 hours/night.
Yep. Sleep. This is, truly, probably my #1 tip for staying healthy and fighting the common cold. We sleep so that we can rebuild and restore every single day. Without enough of it, we break down. There’s a good amount of research that shows 7-9 hours/night is a pretty adequate amount of sleep for most people, so shoot for it.
6. Eat fermented foods & resistant starch.
I mean, did you really think I was going to make a list about staying healthy and not include a section on gut health? No, no you didn’t. I group fermented foods and resistant starch together because they both have profound effects on gut health which directly impacts the immune system. I encourage you to include one of these at every single meal, even if it’s just a spoonful of raw kraut. For fermented foods, I like kombucha, raw sauerkraut and Greek yogurt. For resistant starch, I like plantains, cooked and cooled parboiled rice and potatoes, and potato starch. I try to add a tablespoon of potato starch to my smoothies or even to a glass of water every day.
7. Eat real food & PHFF!
If you’re new to eating real food, if you’re maybe just thinking about a PHFF! lifestyle or if you don’t know what that is, my post about eating PHFF! will help you out. A little protein, healthy fat and fiber [generally in the form of vegetables] at every meal should ensure you’re getting enough immune supporting foods into your body. And this doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert – I made this 50 Shades of Chocolate Mousse over the weekend [Because…come on. Had to.] that’s full of healthy fats, antioxidant-rich chocolate and flavor.
8. Get yo’ greens on.
Greens are everything. We know this. You should really be including at least a couple of cups of greens every day – raw or cooked. If you find it as difficult as I do to get greens down that often, throw a big handful of spinach, kale or collards into a smoothie. Problem [delishly] solved. My Breakfast Smoothie or Green Smoothie Bowl are pretty great options. There are also some options for powdered greens that I don’t use, but I would recommend if you can find one that you like. Dynamic Greens and Aloha are two brands that I’ve heard do not taste like dirt – and are actually pretty yummy.
9. Drink more water.
Any way you can. When you wake up in the morning, slam 2 cups of water. Even if you’re a person who rarely drinks water and couldn’t imagine drinking it all day, just do this one thing and I promise that you will start to feel the effects. Hydration is so important for every single bodily function, so shoot for at least 8-10 cups per day. Swapping soda, sweetened drinks or artificially sweetened drinks will make a big difference in how your immune system functions [and in how you look and feel!].
That’s right. Just move. Research is pouring telling us that sitting is the new smoking. Park further away, take the stairs, go for a walk, hit the gym, try a new yoga class or do what I do and combine your workout and homemaking skills by turning on some music and rocking out while you power clean [I’m referring to mopping the floor, not lifting anything that will ultimately result in me throwing my back out].
We all have quirky things we do when we start to feel a cold coming on. I load up on the vitamins mentioned above and slam ginger juice. What do you guys do? I’m really curious!