A friend of mine, who is also in a health & wellness business had a sign posted on her Facebook page the other day that read “Flu is NOT a season.” It went on to imply that the so-called flu season is not a time when the flu bugs develop super powers to infect, but a time when our immune systems are negatively impacted by behavioral changes that tend to correlate with the cooler weather and shorter daylight of Autumn (less physical activity, decreased water intake, less sun exposure resulting in decreased levels of vitamin D). The good news is that since these changes are behavioral we are in control and have the power to positively impact our immunity.
As I type this, the Mid-Atlantic region is just starting to witness the color change and leaves are starting to fall. We are also getting drenched by much needed rain, and thanks to two weather systems converging near the coast, the forecast for the next several days is quite wet & grey. Perfect weather to come home, curl up with a cozy blanket, a good book and a glass of wine. And that’s okay to do every once in a while. But when that becomes the norm rather than the exception we are gradually weakening our immune systems and may as well hang out a welcome sign for the flu bugs!
Here are a few tips that I use to help support my immune system and repel the flu bugs (Links below to articles/recipes for further reading):
#1 Stay Active- This is one of my favorite times of year to be active outdoors. The air is cool, but not yet cold and the humidity is going down. Make a “date” to go for a “Happy Hour” walk/run around the neighborhood with a friend. Halloween decorations are going up, flower gardens are being planted with mums and pansies, get out and take it in. Remember to grab a flashlight and wear some reflective clothing as it gets dark earlier. Safety First!
#2 Stay Hydrated– I know, I know…the last thing I want to do when it gets cold out is drink water. But your lymphatic system cannot function properly when you are dehydrated. Try adding some natural flavor to your water (not the artificial, sugary water additives) with a squeeze of lemon or lime, a splash of cranberry or apple juice or a slice of cucumber. Drink hot tea (opt for naturally decaffeinated herbal tea)
#3 Drink your broth! It’s good for you, and not just because Campbell’s says so. Bone broth has been used for centuries and across most cultures as a healing food because it is chock full of nutrients and easy to digest, important properties when you’re not feeling your best. And it is SO easy and inexpensive to make.
#4 Get your Vitamin D- We’ve known the importance of Vitamin D for bone health, but Vitamin D is also linked to immune function and research has shown that Vitamin D deficiency is a common factor in many autoimmune disorders. We get most of our usable Vitamin D from sun exposure, so in the months when the daylight hours are less we tend to be deficient. It only takes about 10-15 minutes of daily sun exposure for the body to produce healthy amounts of Vitamin D. So if you can, get outdoors for a little bit at lunch time, roll up your sleeves and soak up some D. If you can’t get outdoors, or if you are concerned about skin damage from sun exposure, there are nutritional sources of Vitamin D including mushrooms and cod liver oil, as well as supplements.
#5 Get a Massage!!!- Of course this is one of my favorite ways to boost my immune system. Research has shown that massage stimulates your body’s killer T cells which fight infection and strengthen your immune response to invaders.
I hope these tips help you to stay happy and healthy this year so that you can enjoy all the beauty of the Autumn Season.
For further information on:
Dehydration and immunity: http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/opinion/2013/7/25/48419/Dehydration-a-leading-cause-of-disease
Benefits of Bone Broth: http://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/
Vitamin D and immunity: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/
Massage and immunity: https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/1/News/detail/2874