I’m exceptionally happy that I’ve easily navigated the winter cold and flu season feeling GREAT – not even a sniffle, despite spending lots of time around people who have been or currently are sick, sometimes passing their germs around to others in the office.
So that’s telling me that my clean eating diet and healthy lifestyle have a lot of value – all my efforts to prepare healthy, whole foods, often locally grown, do make a difference even though sometimes I’m super busy and could be spending my time on other creative endeavors.
Truth be told, being healthy requires time, effort and money. Now by that, I don’t mean everything you buy has to be organic and the highest quality – regular conventional produce can keep you plenty healthy. With the right approach, I think any of us can maintain our health this winter without going broke when utilizing a range of different strategies to make it happen, so of which don’t cost a thing.
Here’s my top 10 list for what’s working for me this winter. I bet you might have other strategies that you’ve been using, so please share your healthy secrets:
- Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially sugar, which will suppress the immune system – soda, cookies and candy taste good going down but they can do a real number on your system. If you need a little sweetness, try a natural sweetener like stevia.
- Add garlic to your diet, a natural immune booster with both anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. At the first sign of a cold, I make a pot of garlic soup, a super simple recipe I learned in nutrition school. Simmer 32 ounces of vegetable broth, a head of garlic (cloves peeled) and a tablespoon of miso paste (found at health food stores). Then puree the garlic and some of the broth and add back into the pot. You have a fantastic weapon to ward off sickness that’s all natural!
- Add a fresh, antioxidant juice to your diet daily – try orange, apple, carrot and beet for something a little sweeter the whole family will drink. Or try my favorite, a green juice like apple, kale, celery, cucumber and lemon. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants to help support your health.
- Add more greens to your diet – kale, collards, spinach, etc. Saute, add to smoothies, add to soups and stews, bake into a chip or eat raw – get them in any way you can!
- Opt for cleaner forms of protein – plant based protein such as beans, and antibiotic-free varieties of meat are helpful.
- Stay hydrated - lots of water will help to flush your system.
- Reduce stress through such practices as meditation or tai chi. Increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, contributes to wearing down your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
- Get more rest. A sleep deprived and stressed out body makes it more likely for you to get sick.
- Get more exercise – moderate exercise is proven to boost the immune system. Walking at lunch time on mild days, strength training or Zumba are great ways to jump start your immune system.
- Take a multi-vitamin, especially if you’re not maintaining a well-balanced diet.
I think one of the most powerful strategies for me has been going to bed earlier, getting more rest and increasing the quality of my sleep (and limiting my time with technology at night helps a lot too – all those devices we love so much can overstimulate us making good quality sleep hard to find).
So what have you tried this winter that’s keeping you super healthy that you think is a must-do strategy? Do tell!