It’s that time of year again - cold and flu season is upon us, and this year, we have an added sickness to worry about. The common cold can force you to take a few days off of work, and the flu could be a whole week if not more. Both come with aches and pains, runny noses, a cough, and downright misery. If you’ve ever been afflicted with either of these ailments, you know that you spend all day on the couch trying to will away the pain and discomfort. It’s in those moments that you bargain with the universe and make promises to do whatever it takes to feel better fast.
But what if there were steps you could take to make your body disease-resistant? What if you could prevent illnesses almost indefinitely just by making a few simple but impactful adjustments to your everyday life? We bet your future, incapacitated self would beg you to take that offer.
Immunity isn’t about dodging disease. It’s about finding a balance between your body and its environment because we were designed to interact and coexist with other organisms. This is the basis of the Terrain Theory - that germs alone aren’t what make us sick, but the state and condition of our bodies1. The theory goes further to state that healthy bodies resist sickness while unhealthy bodies attract it.
If our guts, skin, mouths, intestines are made up of bacteria and microbes that change and adapt to the environment, then germs aren't what get us down. In fact, our microbiome and immune system uses the germs we encounter to gradually develop a balanced response and evolve our defenses. A healthy microbiome means a healthy immune system.
So we’re here to help you boost your immune system with a list of tips for fighting off flu and cold symptoms.
Keep a Healthy Diet
1. LEAFY GREENS
Leafy green vegetables are rich in the nutrients your body needs to maintain a thriving immune system. They contain B3 for energy, B9 for proper cell division, and Calcium for healthy muscle function and blood vessel contraction and dilation. Leafy greens to add to your meals include:
- Romaine Lettuce
- Bok Choy
- Turnip Greens
- Mustard Greens
2. COLORFUL FRUITS & VEGGIES
The pigments that naturally occur in fruits and veggies correspond with certain nutrients that provide health benefits. Mother Nature has literally color-coded herself into an index to follow based on what your body needs - what a gal!
Red veggies are typically high in anthocyanins which are antioxidants that help prevent cell damage. Orange hues signify the presence of carotenoids which convert into Vitamin A, aiding in organ and immune function. Incorporate more reds and oranges such as:
- Sweet Potatoes
Yellow coloring also means that those foods contain carotenoids. Green foods contain folate and Vitamin K, just like leafy greens. Look for more yellows and greens like:
- Butternut Squash
- Green beans
Similar to red colored foods, blue and purple pigmentation also means you’re consuming a boat load of antioxidants, keeping your cells, tissues, and organs functioning properly. Eat more blues and purples including:
Take Care of Your Body
Moving on a regular basis keeps inflammation low - inflammation being a common denominator in almost every sickness. Exercise can also give you a mild serotonin boost, reducing your stress hormones. Stress can do a number on your immune system, so we suggest doing whatever you can to keep its impact low on your daily life.
Most importantly, exercise gets your blood circulating, meaning that your white blood cells are also circulating. We know from grade-school science that those white blood cells are pivotal in fighting illness and disease. Keep those biological crime fighters patrolling all of your body’s neighborhoods by getting in an easy jog or walking for thirty minutes a day. That’s all you need!
With cooler weather comes drier air, and for some of us that means better hair days. But for all of us that means dry, itchy noses. When the humidity factor is low, the mucus membranes in your nasal passages dry out and leave you vulnerable to infection.
Other factors that contribute to damaging this line of defense is having the heater running either in your house or in your car. But, don’t freeze off your toes! Consider an indoor humidifier or, when the weather calls for moisture take some time to get some fresh, wet air to moisten your nose.
5. GET GOOD SLEEP
Do you get really sleepy when you’re sick? That’s because your body is working really hard to get you back on your feet by producing proteins called cytokines. These proteins fight off infections and play a big role in the regulation of immune function. When there is a foreign invader running around your body, the production of cytokines is amplified and your sleep response is triggered. Sort of like putting a city on lockdown and sending out the troops to fight the enemy.
It’s because of this function that getting at least eight hours of sleep every night increases your ability to fight against sickness. As if you needed more reasons to love your bed.
6. IMMUNITY BOOSTER
At OWL we have unlocked the secret to never getting sick by creating our unique blend of herbs combined into one capsule. These ingredients are proven to support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve your gut health. Why the focus on gut health, you ask? Because wellness begins in the gut - that’s why our number one suggested defense against cold and flu is watching what goes into your body. If your gut isn’t functioning properly, NOTHING else will.
The following are just some of the powerful agents at work within our Immunity Booster herbal supplement:
- ASTRAGALUS: an adaptogen commonly used in ancient Chinese medicine to reduce stress which is crucial to immune health. Maitake mushrooms are also known for their immune boosting benefits.
- ECHINACEA: a well-known for its anti inflammatory properties as well as containing oodles of antioxidants. These are vital for cell repair which is vital when fighting illness.
- FORSYTHIA FRUIT: another notable mention as it is also used in ancient Chinese medicine as an antiviral and antimicrobial which further supports your immune system
Mind Your Mind:
7. NO STRESS
Doctors continually find a connection between stress and decreased immune function. An overreaching cause behind this is the excessive production of cortisol your body experiences when stressed out. Too much cortisol coursing through your veins reduces your body’s ability to fight inflammation and disease. This in turn leads to a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to sickness.
Stress is inevitable. Outside stressors are out of your control. But your response to these stimuli is completely in your hands. You just have to find your special remedy. Meditation, yoga, and long walks through nature are just some of our favorite ways to dispel any extra stress.
8. WARD OFF LONELINESS
Related to stress is social isolation that can cause a stress response. Especially during this never-ending pandemic, loneliness can be a chronic situation for a lot of us which means a higher probability of stress-related illnesses. In fact, some doctors consider social isolation a risk factor in many illnesses because of its link to increased inflammation and decreased immune function.
Because of this, you have to take a break from the internal monologue from time to time. Get out of your head and be with other humans. We are social beings no matter how introverted you are - community is always a necessity. While you may not be able to close the physical gap between you and your loved ones for safety’s sake, you can schedule virtual visitations or outdoor, socially distanced gatherings. Whatever you choose, make some effort to seek out companionship with people who make you smile.
Check out our blog Self-Isolation: Overcoming Loneliness In a Pandemic >
Take The Extra Step
Not mentioned above is the necessity to maintain good personal hygiene and consider getting a flu shot. But preventing the cold and flu is a preemptive strategy that should begin long before the season is upon us. Fortifying your body’s defenses when there is less risk of developing a sickness is the ultimate way to ensure you’re ready to enjoy the holiday season instead of suffering through it. Plus, having good habits established to sustain you through the winter means you’re a step ahead of whatever sickness is around the corner.
Your body works hard to defend you against the outside world. Do it a favor by giving it the tools it needs to do a fabulous job!