Tips to Improve Your Immune System this Winter and during Pregnancy
Hello, winter and all you bring. ‘Tis the season… let the sniffles, sneezes, and sore throats begin. (Who knew we had 5 seasons in a year?, hehe…). While it is impossible to avoid germs and toxins in the environment, it is easy to take some extra precautions to strengthen and support our immune systems to keep these buggers away this season. Here are some tips that my family would like to share with yours.
- Neti Pot: A neti pot is a container that looks like a small teapot. It is used to clean out your nasal passages. An essential tool for the practice called “nasal irrigation.” Sexy, huh? Well, those who use it, love it. Those who don’t yet, can’t imagine… It is very important that you use the neti pot properly with a saline (salt-based) solution.
- Bone Broth: According to a study published in 2000 in the medical journal Chest, “chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.” The researchers observed that people eating chicken soup seemed to experience a mild reduction in inflammation that helped reduce symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. Our friend, Lauren Grogan over at Center Your Health is not only adorable but also knows her nutrition stuff. Lauren shares with us, “Nourishing Bone Broth in 5 Simple Steps.” Yum!
- Take Your Vitamins: In addition to your Prenatal Vitamins, you might want to consider a few more vitamins for added insurance.
- Vitamin B2 has shown evidence that it may help prevent bacterial infections.
- Vitamin B6 can reduce inflammation in the body and is a major player in mood and sleep patterns because it helps the body produce serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine, a stress hormone.
- Vitamin C may not be the cure for the common cold but it may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. What mom couldn’t use a few less wrinkles?
- Probiotics: There are hundreds of different species of bacteria in your digestive tract, which do a bang-up job helping you digest your food. Now researchers, including some at Harvard Medical School, are finding evidence of a relationship between such “good” bacteria and the immune system.
- Elderberry Syrup: Elderberry, an immune-boosting botanical packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, has been proven to affect the immune system. Elderberry seems to have activity against viruses including the flu, and might reduce inflammation.
- Get Moving: Gentle exercise can help you feel better about yourself, just by making you feel healthier and more energetic. So go ahead, take that yoga class, go for a bike ride, run, play golf, or go for that walk. You’ll feel better and healthier for it. Although exercise is good for you, be mindful not to overdo it because too much exercise can have the opposite affect.
- Fresh Air and Sunshine: The forgotten antibiotics. The least expensive, most natural germ-killers and mood stabilizers. Florence Nightingale knew about them. Your grandparents and parents probably knew about them. Sunshine also has the benefit of Vitamin D, which is has powerful affects on the immune system and the brain.
- Massage: Who needs an excuse to be pampered? Schedule that massage today! Massage therapy is older than recorded time, and rubbing was the primary form of medicine until the pharmaceutical revolution of the 1940s. Popularized again as part of the alternative medicine movement, massage therapy has recently received empirical support for enhancing immune function. It is important that if you are pregnant, to schedule with a licensed massage therapist who specializes in prenatal massage.
- Humidifier: Winter air is dry air. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air, which can create a lot of benefits for you and your family. Increasing humidity levels significantly reduced the ability of airborne viruses to cause flu infections. Put one next to where you sleep.
- Lower your stress: …’nough said.
- Get Your Zzz’s: When we aren’t sleeping enogh, are stressed, thinking negatively, or feeling depressed, the immune system weakens therefore causing us to be vulnerable to illness. Take care of your mind and body for optimum health.
- You Are What You Eat: I was raised with the knowledge that food is medicine and that what you put into your body, your body will give back to you. When it comes to immune-supporting foods, think garlic, dark leafy greens, vibrant vegetables. I highly recommend Fire Cider, which contains garlic, apple cider vinegar, habanero pepper, and honey. It’s kick-butt-hot so it knocks the bug right out of you.
It is important to wash your hands and to keep your surface areas clean. However, try to avoid toxic chemicals in doing so. Opt for more natural and gentler cleaning products. Remember that if you and your family members do get sick this “flu season,” that the more germs you’re exposed to, the more you’re immune to.
Ooh, and if you’re breastfeeding and you or your baby are feeling under the weather, keep nursing! Your baby will get your antibodies and his/her immune system will thank yours!