Getting sick is the fastest way to slow down productivity, plans and motivation. Fortunately, there are easy ways to naturally boost your immunity, keeping you and your family healthy and happy.
One of the easiest ways to avoid getting sick: WASH YOUR HANDS. It seems obvious enough, but washing your hands keeps germs out of your mouth. Wash your hands before eating and drinking and after being out in public places. So listen to your mother and wash your hands before meals.
Eat well: Nutrition plays a vital role in immunity. If we want our bodies to be able to fight off germs, we need to provide our bodies with proper nutrition.
- Yogurt: Yogurt gives your gut probiotics to keep your digestive tract moving and help keep germs at bay.
- Garlic: Garlic contains allicin, which is an active property that fights infection and bacteria.
- Tea: Drinking 2-3 cups of either green or black tea each day can increase L-theanine, which is an amino acid responsible for improving immunity. In addition, drinking tea improves hydration which is vital for health.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cell. White blood cells are essential for fighting infection.
- Citrus foods: You guessed it- vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to improve immunity, so add an orange or a grapefruit to your morning routine.
- Ginger: Ginger is a strong antioxidant. In addition, it is antimicrobial which kills bacteria. It has anti-inflammatory properties which calm the immune system and can help optimize it’s function.
Exercise: Exercise is associated with lower risk of getting sick. A research study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine surveyed over 4000 people on their health habits. They found that people who exercised vigorously for at least 2 ½ hours per week were 10% less likely to come down with the flu. It is important not to overdo it though. Allow your body time to rest and recover. Yoga is another form of exercise that has been shown to improve immunity. This form of exercise improves fitness, while reducing stress hormones.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture treatments can support and strengthen your immune system. It is a preventative form of treatment. Acupuncture can increase white blood cells in the body and moderate the immune system to allow it to react quickly to threats (viruses). One of the main points in acupuncture used to help boost the immune system is large intestine 11. This can also be used as an acupressure point which may help to prevent you from getting sick with a cold or flu. Large intestine 11 is also useful for clearing heat (fever), nasal or chest congestion and for alleviating frontal headaches.
The acupuncture and acupressure point is located on the outer edge of your elbow crease. As with most acupressure points, hold and press lightly for 1-3 minutes or until you feel a pulsing sensation. If you are using the acupressure point to help prevent yourself from getting sick, pressing it on a regular basis, as well as when you are are around someone who is sick, may help build your defenses to be able to fend off the virus or bacteria. If you are already sick, holding and pressing the the acupressure point 3-5 times daily for the duration of your cold and flu can help to lessen the amount of days you may be sick. You may notice that you feel worse before you feel better. That happens because your body is processing the cold/flu at a faster rate.
Sleep: Your body needs an opportunity to rest and recover. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Turn off that late night television and hit the pillow. You will feel refreshed in the morning and your immune system will have a chance to rest and reboot.
Stay social: Relationships are important to immune health. People with healthy friendships and relationships are known to have improved immunity, as compared with loners. People that have little connection to other people are known to have higher stress levels and worse immunity. So, relish in your relationships, and make time to talk, laugh, and reminisce. Make an effort to find one new connection this month.
Relax: Try getting a regular massage, or better yet, have your partner give you a 20 minute rub-down. Moderate pressure massages, decrease cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that impairs immunity. Massage stimulates your nervous system so cortisol levels are released at a slower rate. While we are on the topic, find ways to relax every day. Take a bubble bath, meditate, go for a walk, read a book etc. It is important to reduce stress levels, thereby reducing stress hormones in your body, and improving your immunity.
If you do get sick, allow your body to rest and fight off the virus. Take a day or two off of work. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and feed your body proper nutrition. By listening to your body, you will feel better faster.
Antonella Turchiaro is a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist in good standing with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists in Ontario. She is also the clinical director and founder of Medica Natural Therapy Clinic located in Vaughan, Ontario.
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