Here at Team Nutrition Genius we HATE being sick and even more than that we really HATE when you get sick 🙁 So, we are here to make sure you prevent or at least lessen the duration and severity of colds and the dreaded FLU! How you ask?! Well if you stick around I’ll tell you 🙂
In this day and age we are given a shot or pill for any ache, ailment or sniffly nose. What happened to taking care of your body, washing your hands and promoting PREVENTION lonnnnnnng before we needed said shots, pills, etc?
(but seriously we care more about shots and meds than washing our hands?!)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a time and a place for vaccines, shots and medications but I just feel that over the past few decades we have become so reliant on them that we forget our bodies are INCREDIBLY smart and resilient. Yes, that’s right your body has a built in defense mechanism known as your immune system. This intricate and amazing system protects you from foreign invaders. Imagine you have your own little army inside your GUT (in which >70% of your immune system lies) that is unique to you, how cool!
However, your own unique army needs the tools to succeed. Imagine if we sent our service men and women out in the field with no clothes, weapons or protective gear? We would never do that because we want them to come home to us safe and sound! So your immune system is no different! We need to provide it with the tools for success because it is prone to weakening from MANY factors in your everyday life including: diet, sleep habits, stress levels, environmental toxins, and so much more.
Ok, so now you know your immune system is KEY to you not getting the cold and flu right? Well, now we need to know what we can do to keep this army of ours…I’ll call mine my Sassy Immune Army…safe and sound this cold and flu season. I will give you my TOP 5 tips to prevent colds and the flu this season naturally… but know that this is just the beginning of how to keep your immune system in tip-top shape!
Tip #1: JUST EAT REAL FOOD
If you are an avid Team Nutrition Genius follower then this first tip should be a given. Processed foods especially those with excess sugar (think cookies, cakes, pasta, etc.) weaken our immune system and allow foreign invaders to swoop in when we are most vulnerable. Instead, shoot to fill at least half your plate with non-starchy vegetables (if you can grab local and seasonal veggies more power to you!) and snack on good sources of fats (olive oil, coconut, lard, tallow), proteins (beef, poultry, fish, eggs, pork) and carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, some dairy). Confused on what those are? Check out our PODCAST Here, Here and Here !
By replacing the sugar-filled foods with REAL FOOD you will be eating a more nutrient-dense diet and will up your antioxidant and anti-inflammtory foods thus boosting your immune system for the long winter ahead (ok perhaps a bit dramatic but maybe not when you live in Upstate NY).
What We Recommend:
a. Reduce sugar intake (and processed foods!)
b. Hydrate with WATER (shoot for 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day)
c. Increase non-starchy vegetable intake (via dark leafy greens, garlic, onions and other seasonal vegetables)
d. Eliminate gluten & processed dairy
e. Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1-2 glasses per night (and that’s us being generous! If the rest of your diet/lifestyle is NOT dialed in you should NOT be consuming alcohol as it will weaken your immune system)
Tip #2: Sleep Like You Mean It!
While some people believe they can “sleep when they’re dead” they are completely missing the importance of sleep. Don’t you feel amazing when you get a full nights’ rest?! Ever notice that when you get less than 5-6 hours of sleep for an extended period of time you get run down, sick and down right miserable? There is a REASON for that!
Your body NEEDS 7-9 hours of sleep per night to recoup from ALL the stress and toxins it faced the previous day, so give your body not only what it needs but what it deserves. Lack of sleep throws your hormones for a loop and causes your immune system to become vulnerable. So sleep well sassy friends!
What We Recommend:
a. 7-9 hours of sleep per night
b. Limit “screen” time at night (no electronics in the bedroom!)
c. Use blue-light blockers to allow your body to realize it is nighttime! Check out these glasses and this app (or this for non-Apple user) to help.
d. Make your bedroom dark and cool to ensure a good night’s rest
Tip #3: Stress-less
Yes I know, how in the world are you supposed to stress-less during the winter months especially around the holidays?! TRY! Remember that without your health you cannot help others with their health. Think about being in an airplane when the pressure drops…you are supposed to put YOUR oxygen mask on first in this emergency…same thing here with your health. Yes, your health is an emergency! So that being said, STRESS wrecks havoc on the immune system so take care of yourself and put your HEALTH masks on!
What We Recommend:
a. Keep a gratitude journal (write down at least 1 thing per day you are grateful for...it’s for your health)
b. See Tip #4 and learn to play/move/exercise
c. Learn to say “no” (seriously! If there is a party you cannot cook for or just don’t feel like going to…SAY NO!)
d. Surround yourself with positive people who calm you down not stress you out 🙂
Tip #4: Play!
Recess is here! That is right, I am giving you the freedom to PLAY and play often and daily! Play can mean whatever you need it to mean. For some, play is hopscotch with the kids, others it’s building a snowman, still others it’s going to their Crossfit gym and crushing a WOD. Whatever form of movement that excites you and does not stress you out. If you are someone who HATES getting up to workout then DON’T! Instead, go for afternoon walks, do yoga at night with friends, or have a dance party at HOME!!! Whatever you do just remember to move 🙂 Now HOP TO IT! Here are some ideas from Mark Sisson!
What We Recommend:
a. MOVE daily
b. Recruit an accountability buddy (even if that is your dog…those sometimes are the BEST buddies)
c. Schedule Play so you have something to look forward to! (think vacations, walks, or just plain old stretch breaks)
Tip #5: Supplement Wisely
While we promote a real food diet here at TNG we realize that sometimes your body needs that extra something to get you back on track. Note, this is not the place to start if you have not dialed in your other diet and lifestyle factors, those should ALWAYS come first!
What We Recommend (remember to check with your doctor before starting anything new!)
a. Magnesium: helps calm you down and is necessary in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, holy importantness! (Recommend oral or topical)
b. Fermented Cod Liver Oil*: more of a food than a supplement and has been used for YEARS and has the health benefits of Omega-3s (DHA & EPA), Vitamin A and Vitamin D (Regular cod liver oil here and if you get the Butter Oil Blend you will get Vitamin K2 as well)
*Our recommendations have changed since this posting. You can find new fish oil supplement recommendations here and here.
c. Probiotics: these help your gut bugs stay STRONG and you can get them through food (fermented veggies, kefir, and our new favorite thanks to Sarah Lewis, RD Inner-Eco Coconut Kefir found at your local Whole Foods) or via a supplement (our favorite) Listen to our podcast next week, episode 20 to find out more about these gut bug lovers!
Alright so now you have the tools you need to set yourself up for success this winter!! There are more tips and tricks we have for you so perhaps down the road we will do a Part 2 🙂
Remember, if you are worried about holiday events check out our post HERE and look for a post next week about our FAVORITE “health” food BONE BROTH!! If you have further questions feel free to set up an apportionment with myself or Marie or comment below!
Find out more on our weekly Q&A podcast segment of Nutrition Genius Radio HERE where we discuss how to keep healthy during the cold and flu season…and beyond!Who cares if you have to wear a mask…you decrease your risk of catching anything from your fellow McDonald’s eating co-worker who got the flu shot but is sneezing up a storm and never washes their hands….yup I knew some of those 🙂
Until next time, stay sassy and HEALTHY!!
ps. If you are in the health care field and do NOT want a flu shot, you have the freedom to SAY NO! If you feel that you are generally healthy why prick yourself with another shot? Check out this article by Functional Medicine Doctor Amy Myers for reasons why you don’t need the flu shot!
oh and pps. WASH YOUR HANDS ! (just skip all that anti-bacterial stuff…some bacteria is actually a good thing!)
Immunity-Boosting Guide: http://www.fix.com/blog/immunity-boosting-guide/
A Functional Medicine Approach to Preventing the Flu-Dr. Amy Myers, MD: http://www.amymyersmd.com/2013/10/10/functional-medicine-approach-preventing-flu/
Fifteen Facts To Fight Flu Naturally-Jill Carnahan, MD: http://www.jillcarnahan.com/2014/11/16/dr-jills-flu-fighting-tips/
How To Prevent Colds and Flus Naturally-Chris Kresser: http://chriskresser.com/how-to-prevent-colds-and-flus-naturally
Natural Ways to Beat The Flu: http://primaldocs.com/opinion/natural-ways-to-beat-the-flu/