The day after Christmas, I caught the worst cold I’ve had in years. I was coughing, sneezing, had a runny nose, headache – it was not the way I had planned to spend my holidays.
Being sick like this reminded me of how I used to feel ALL the time. One year when I was living in NYC, I was at the doctor’s office almost every month because I kept getting sinus infections. It wasn’t until I made some adjustments to my diet and lifestyle that I finally stopped getting sick so often… and oh my goodness I seriously felt like a new person! Besides being more pleasant to be around, work seemed easier, my outlook on life was positive again PLUS I could spend my downtime with friends instead of laying on the couch with a box of tissues.
Here are some quick, easy diet and lifestyle changes you can start incorporating into your life that will greatly increase your chances of staying healthy during the winter, even if people in your office are sick!
Boost Your Immune System
Our health begins in our belly! A big culprit for a weakened immune system is a lack of healthy bacteria in our bellies. Our body needs a balanced amount of healthy bacteria to keep our immune systems strong. If you have ever been on antibiotics, which I was constantly was on as a child and in my early adult years, they not only kill the bad bacteria that making us sick, but also the healthy bacteria that keeps our immune system strong so we can fight off colds.
Start taking a probiotic daily. I use the Life Equals probiotic, with at least 18-20 billion CFU’s. Be super consistent with this supplement. You can also add some fermented foods to your diet like ginger, sauerkraut, kimchee, coconut water kefir and kombucha which all have probiotics in them.
Bone broth is another must! It is not only good for your immune system, but bone broth is also super helpful for balancing your hormones. Learn more about the healing benefits of bone broth here, plus get my bone broth recipe.
Foods To Eat
It doesn’t surprise me that most of us get sick in January and February. They are usually the coldest and darkest months of the year, plus our bodies are still recovering from all of the sweets and heavy foods we consumed during the holidays. To boost your immune system, we must first say goodbye to processed sugars. Sugar is in everything, even some toothpastes, so it can be very hard to avoid. Start to read labels–anything that ends in -ose or -ol is sugar–and find healthier versions of what you are eating. With any packaged foods, look for ones that use dates, honey or maple syrup as sweeteners instead of natural or artificial flavors. Here are more tips on what to keep and what to toss in your pantry to help keep your body healthy, especially over the winter. Also, eat more citrus foods like oranges, dark leafy greens and vegetables to help keep your body healthy.
Eat Warmer Foods
If it is cold out and you are eating cold foods, your body is going to retain that cold most of the day. I encourage you to replace your morning green smoothie or fruit with oatmeal, quinoa flakes, eggs or sautéed greens with coconut oil and continue to eat warm foods throughout the day. Have the green smoothie at lunch or in the afternoon instead. The bone broth can be a delicious, warm afternoon drink! I love to make chili, stews and soups around this time of year. You might even notice that your body is craving these warm nourishing foods. If you are finding it hard to keep up with your water intake, switch to warm water with lemon to keep your body hydrated.
The Magic of Vitamin D
Even those of us that live in a sunnier climate are probably still not getting enough Vitamin D. Most of us are deficient in this important Vitamin that is actually a hormone, which is essential for our body to absorb calcium and helps keep our mood balanced. I take a Vitamin D supplement daily even though I live in California. I’m still not outside in the sun enough to have optimal levels. Vitamin D really helps to keep our immune system healthy and if you haven’t had your levels checked recently, I really encourage you to do so.
Holistic Cold Medicine
When I started reading labels on everything that I was putting in my body, I noticed that my cough drops and medicines actually had a ton of sugar in them. Sugar really depresses the immune system and we want to avoid it as much as possible. Try some Elderberry Syrup or Elderberry Cough Drops, it will help coat the throat and helps to boost the immune system or try raw local honey. If you are blowing your nose a lot this winter, try using a Neti Pot to help clear your sinuses.
I also like to use Thieves essential oil as a way to support my immune system and steer clear of winter time sniffles. I use this a lot when I travel and it would be wonderful to keep in the office as it acts like a natural hand sanitizer. Also, stay away from Emergenc-C, it has sugar in it and sugar feeds colds. Try Ultima instead!
Decrease Stress and Sleep More
I am always sharing the importance of the three S’s–sugar, sleep and stress–with my clients. When the three S’s are combined, eating too much sugar, sleeping less and stressing more, that is when we get sick. I encourage you to reduce the stress in your life, say “No” before you say “Yes” to any invites, and make sure you are taking the time to move your body every single day to keep your immune system healthy. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep, and really look at all of the foods you are eating and make an effort to eat less sugar. The more you can stay relaxed, the easier it is for your immune system to stay balanced and keep you healthy this winter.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy? Share with us below!
Big Hugs & Health,