We all know people in our lives that never seem to get sick and those that struggle each year during cold and flu season. The variation in this may be lying in our immune systems. The immune system is a team of proteins that identify and fight foreign invaders (bacterias and viruses) that threaten to make us sick. When we are healthy, our immune system stays silent and has an easy job. When we are overwhelmed with stress, lacking nutritious food, sleeping poorly and unable to take good care of ourselves, our immune system will suffer. This can cause an inflammatory response and increase our chances of catching colds or flus. Sometimes, this can even increase our risk for autoimmune disease.
Our knowledge of the immune system has greatly advanced in recent years. We have lots of tools that can support our immune systems. Here are some of the most effective ways of boosting your immunity.
- Get restful sleep. Sleeping well allows our body to heal and rejuvenate.
- Eat nutritious food. Nourishing our bodies is very important. What we put in our bodies has a direct correlation to how we feel. Antioxidants found in vegetables and fruit help to strengthen our cells and fight inflammation. Adequate protein levels are essential for supporting our immune system. Overconsumption of inflammatory foods such as sugar, grains and dairy can weaken our immune responses. Hydration is also key – during the colder months, we are less likely to feel thirsty despite being dehydrated.
- Daily activity helps to reduce stress and inflammatory responses. Sweating is a wonderful way to help support detoxification and boost the immune system.
- Reduce stress! This is often easier said than done. It is that time of year when things can become really busy and overwhelming. It is important to be able to set boundaries and to be able to say “NO” to people and activities that increase the stress levels in our lives. Meditation, massage, acupuncture, exercise, yoga and counselling are all excellent ways to support stress levels.
- Check your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D levels can impact our immune system. We are susceptible to Vitamin D deficiencies especially during the winter months. If you are vulnerable to getting sick and unsure if you should be supplementing with Vitamin D – talk to your medical practitioner about getting these levels tested to ensure you are on an appropriate dose. Testing is affordable and can be very worthwhile.
This warming winter beverage helps fight inflammation with curcumin (naturally found in turmeric) and ginger.
- 1 cup of unsweetened Almond milk
- 1 cup strong coffee or 2 shots of espresso
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp of fresh ginger or drop a 1 cm cube in a blender then add
- ¼ tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of fine black pepper (helps the absorption of turmeric)
- Place the milk, turmeric, ginger, vanilla and honey in a saucepan on low heat and whisk until mixed and warm.
- Add mixed drink in countertop blender or use a milk frother to make a more foamy texture.
- Add strong coffee or espresso to large mug and slowly introduce the latte.
- Top with cinnamon or cocoa.
– Dr. Jules Passy