We have made it passed Winter solstice but Winter's not over yet. There's been plenty of cold days over the last few weeks and probably a few more ahead! It seems there's quite a few bugs and colds lurking about. Our immune system is so important all year round but at this time of year we often need to give it a bit more attention; perhaps the colder darker days have something to answer for! Luckily there's lots we can do to give our body a hand to keep those nasty bugs at bay.
:: Here is another reason to Cut Down on Sugar ::
Having too much sugar in your diet hinders the immune system. It reduces the ability of white blood cells to attack foreign invaders. Why is that? . . . . Well Vitamin C, as we all know, is a nutrient our body's immune response needs in order to function properly. When sugar is broken down to glucose it's structure is very similar to that of Vitamin C. While your immune system is looking for Vitamin C to help it defend against viruses and bacteria it may come across sugar instead. Sugar does not aid the immune system and so the more sugar you take in the more competition there'll be for Vitamin C in it's quest to reach our white blood cells. Our body then has to use it's resources to get rid of this glucose putting our immune system under extra strain.
Saying yes to those sweet treats may not be worth the short lived endorphin boost. Curbing the sugar may just help your body fend off those Winter viruses. Check out our article on reducing your sugar intake.
:: Introduce Powerful Foods and Herbs ::
Make a point to eat a variety of colours when you choose your fruits and veggies each day. Red, purple, orange, yellow and blue foods all have a different range of vitamins and antioxidants. Adding fresh or frozen berries to your yogurt, porridge and as dessert are a great way to pack in those antioxidants!
Echinacea has been used for hundreds of years as a health aide with Native American Sioux Indians using it for all kinds of things; from snake-bites to colic! Who could blame them as this wonderful flower stimulates the immune system helping us to keep sickness away. If you've been unfortunate enough to catch a cold taking Echinacea is proven to shorten the length it will stick around.
Want to get some of this wonderful Echinacea? Here at Be Well we stock Echimax- a chewable tablet which contains 500mg Echinacea, 151mg Vitamin C, 500 mcg Zinc and 5mg slippery elm. A tablet or two of these each day is a real help to the immune system. My kids remind me each day to give them one of these during the winter as they are delicious!
Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is key when fighting an infection. It works as an antioxidant to protect our bodies from damage, is involved in the growth of our bones, tendons, ligaments and skin and increases the absorption of iron from our foods (particularly from vegetarian sources).
Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables particularly citrus and kiwifruit. Red capsicums actually give you a whopping 240 mg compared with orange at 46 mg per serve. Vitamin C is an easy vitamin to get from food for your daily allowance. However, when you are fighting an infection high doses are particularly effective. We recommend a vitamin C supplement with bioflavonoids which is similar to vitamin C foods: but you can absorb 2000 mg with out eating 66 tomatoes or 8 capsicums. We recommend sell Eagle's Vitamin A-C tablets and Thorne's Vitamin C with flavonoids. If you are feeling run down or people are sick around you take 2000 mg a day and if you are ill you can take 2000 mg three to four times a day.
Ginger is a powerful plant. Even when I don't have an ailment I love some fresh ginger and lemon tea, with just a little honey- yum! You can really feel the warming properties of ginger in whatever you decide to put it in. It is amazing at helping combat a chill. It's also an anti-oxidant, antimicrobial while containing natural antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents too. Brew yourself some ginger tea or add it to the next soup you make!
The sunshine vitamin is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods -- including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks. It is important to make an effort to get vitamin D. It is nearly impossible to get enough Vitamin D from the sun alone when we are covered up during winter.
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the complications from cardio=vascular disease, cognitive impairment, sever asthma in children and even cancer.
We recommend a Eagle's Vitamin D3 1000 IU Spray provides colecalciferol, the most abundant form or vitamin D, in an easy to administer, consistently measured, high-dose spray. This spray has a great mixed berry flavour. You can also ask your GP for monthly prescription for a vitamin D supplement.
:: Have a Chiropractic Adjustment ::
Many people associate chiropractic care as a way to treat back and neck problems. This is true but there are so many other ways that chiropractic treatment can also help us. Take our immune system for example- studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics by Brennan and Triano show that several types of immune system cells increase biological activity after a chiropractic adjustment (for more on that study just click on this link). When you think about it this, it really makes sense as the nervous, immune and endocrine systems are intrinsically linked. Misalignment of the spine can effect the ability of our nervous system to communicate effectively and impair co-ordination of our immune system.
Often when we feel sick we try to avoid people and stay in our home as much as we can. However a trip to your chiropractor is highly recommended during these times and may be the boost your body is looking for.
:: Keep Warm and Get Plenty of Sleep ::
As obvious as it might seem sometimes we need reminding..... keep your body warm! Wrap up on excursions out of your home and very make an effort to keep your home at a good temperature. Home temperatures should be a minimum of 16°C. Generally this won't be a problem while we are awake but it is also important while you are sleeping. Breathing in cold air throughout the night affects our lungs and nasal passage making us more susceptible to catching a cold. It also stresses your nervous system. So set your thermostat to keep you warm through the night or heat your house a few degrees more so that when it drops through the night you'll still remain in a good temperature range.
Having less sunlight at this time of year may have you craving the cosiness of your bed as it leaves us all a little sleepier. There may not be any harm in spending a little extra time in bed in the colder weather and getting some good quality recuperation at the end of the day.