Many of us find the winter time tricky and laden with coughs and colds but we can take many steps to bolster our immunity!
These simple steps can have us avoiding or significantly shortening the length of illnesses and enhancing our well-being throughout the winter months.Late Autumn and early winter offer many wonderful things: The start of the holiday season, a time to slow down and get more rest, long cosy evenings spent snuggled up on the sofa. It is also the time when winter gets nearer and we also tend to notice a few undesirable side effects. Mainly increased illnesses, colds and poorly spells that seemingly spread like wildfire in our workplaces, community spaces and schools.
Here are some of Ancestral Health’s favourite ways to avoid illness. With both preventive daily measures and emergency tactics for when that scratchy throat hits, use these tips and enjoy a winter season with less illness and more contentment.
Eat for Wellness
One of the most important ways we support our immunity, year-round and against both acute illness and chronic disease, is with our diets. Eating a wide array of vegetables, fruits, high-quality protein and healthy fats helps boost the health of every organ and bodily system, making us more resistant to stress and illness. One specific food group that researchers are finding may be directly linked with our immunity is the family of foods containing beneficial bacteria. All types of traditionally fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, fermented pickles, miso, tempeh, yogurt and natto. All help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our bodies — together, these bacteria are known as our micro biome. While scientists are still learning all the mechanisms involved in our micro biome’s relationship with our health, the research is fairly solid to support a distinct connection between thriving gut bacteria and resistance to illness. To take advantage of the effects, try to eat a small amount of fermented foods every day, and include a variety of probiotic-rich foods to build the most diverse population of healthy bacteria in your own body.
Managing Stress is Key
Managing stress is key to managing illness. In fact, according to Psychology Today, some experts claim stress is responsible for as much as 90 percent of all illness and disease, including everything from colds and flus to cancer and heart disease. This is because stress triggers chemical reactions that flood the body with the hormone cortisol, decreasing white blood cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells and increasing rates of infection. The effects of stress are cumulative, so learning to manage stress daily is critical for avoiding the many serious health problems it can cause. Some of the best techniques for managing stress include daily meditation, positive thinking and developing a network of solid social support. A strong network of social support may, in fact, help boost immune function all on its own. As we approach Christmas, often stress level can be sent sky high under the people-pleasing pressure. Be sure to take time for yourself to recharge and let go of amounting daily stresses.
Sleep for Health
Getting enough sleep is fundamentally linked with healthy immune function. Many people find that in winter their bodies require more sleep than in summer — longer nights may trigger the desire for more sleep. Whenever possible, listen to your body and allow yourself to sleep longer during the coldest parts of the year. It may be key to avoiding illness. If you have trouble sleeping, experts recommend a few initial steps: Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily; practice meditation or breathing exercises before bed; stay away from screens and blue light within an hour or two of bedtime; and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Spending time outdoors, particularly in forest settings, may stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins and offer a general boost to the immune system, although researchers don’t have a clear explanation as to the mechanisms behind these actions. In one study conducted by Japanese immunologist Qing Li, hiking twice a day for three days increased participants’ white blood cells by 40 percent, and they remained elevated by 15 percent a month later. These results weren’t found after urban walking, suggesting something uniquely beneficial about spending time in a natural setting.
We can’t promise a winter free from illness, but boosting your immunity is a sure fire well to keep you well this winter.