Tips for reducing your risk for colds and flu
We love this time of year when the light is golden, and the last fire of summer of reds, yellows and gold are on the autumn leaves. As the season and weather changes our risk for catching colds and flu increases. At Pearl Natural Health our acupuncturist offers you some tips to help you reduce your risk for colds and flu.
Once we move indoors, the air is dryer, we spend more time in close proximity with lots of other folks, maybe our lifestyle habits catch up with us before our bodies have adapted and voila, we are surprised with unwanted head colds.
What can you do? A lot. You can strengthen and modulate your immune system, that intricate system interwoven into the fabric of your cells and tissues, to adapt to the changes of the season to protect you from unwanted viruses. This complex system is your front line of defense against illness. To keep this system strong and flexible it needs a certain element of balance and harmony well supported by simple lifestyle habits – eating well, regular exercise, stress management and good quality sleep along with staying hydrated and washing your hands regularly. In addition, acupuncture is a great tune up for your whole body!
Here are 5 essential tips for keeping your immune system happy, humming and healthy.
Minimize your risks for autumn colds:
Fill your diet with vegetables and fruits –
Fill your plate with loads of colorful vegetables from chlorophyll rich dark leafy greens (collards, kale, broccoli, dandelion greens, mustard greens, bok choy, arugula, spinach, escarole and Swiss chard). Steam, boil, braise, roast, sautee, juice, make a salad. Expand your horizons with a new green vegetable per week. They are rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. If you are not getting your 9-13 servings of vegetables per day, try adding them into your breakfast. In countries around the world people often eat dinner foods for breakfast. So next time you cook up an egg or have oatmeal for breakfast try adding some delicious quick sauteed greens.
Cut the processed foods, alcohol and added sugars –
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates. The more you cut back on manufactured foods in a package and the more whole foods grown under the sun you add in the healthier you will be.
- Recent studies on the effects of alcohol has many questioning its long term impact on our health.
- 80% of the food supply (from yogurt, to packaged foods, to breads and even salt packets) have some form of added sugar (sugars have over 56 different names) which puts a burden on the body increasing chances for obesity and sugar related diseases, most notably Type 2 Diabetes.
Move, often and exercise –
The more we move, walk, dance, run, bike and exercise the more we oxygenate our cells, heart, brain. Exercise and movement relieves stress, helps our mood, which is vital as the days become shorter and the light diminishes, and the stronger we become. We know it can be difficult to get it in your daily schedule, but do. Join a walking club, a gym, get a walking buddy, put music on and dance your heart out in the house, walk more and often. Get up from your desk every half hour and walk around.
Get your rest –
Sleep is wonderful! But many people have trouble getting a full night of restful sleep. Whether it be having difficulty falling asleep or waking at that bewitching hour of 3am and remaining awake insomnia is a drain on one’s energy. Even losing an hour of sleep per night adds up to losing one full night’s sleep per week! The National Sleep Foundation has some general recommendations for healthy sleep hygiene. We have some too:
- Have your last meal at least 3 hours before you go to sleep, so your digestion gets to rest.
- Avoid stimulants including spicy foods, alcohol, dark chocolate and caffeine in the evening.
- Ditch the phone and tablet outside the bedroom walls and disconnect for 8 hours.
- Try acupuncture to ease stress and help with insomnia.
- Manage Stress –
Unfortunately, stress is inevitable but we can do a lot to reduce its ill effects and bolster our sense of health and well being.
- Reduce aggravating foods, cut back on stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods.
- Keep moving! Studies have shown that regular exercise, even 20 minutes per day helps produce those relaxing endorphins.
- Take up yoga (hatha or restorative yin yoga), learn to meditate – 15 minutes per day can make a huge difference.
- Make your acupuncture appointment today! People often say how energized and relaxed they are after a treatment.