Monday, January 19, 2015

10 Tips To Stay Healthy This Winter Season

I love the winter season because it means Thanksgiving, Christmas, cozy clothes, warm fires and lots of family time. Winter also means colds, the flu and lots of people feeling sick in general. Due to people being inside more and huddling together for warmth viruses spread and can get out of control during the winter months. This year the flu has been deemed an epidemic due to the number of deaths and I have spent more time than I prefer at the pediatrician office with my daughter. So what can we do to avoid getting sick and how can we boost our immunity in general?

 Here are 10 tips to staying healthy this winter season.

1. Add Some Greens to Your Daily Routine
A great way to boost your immunity is to add greens, like spinach and kale, to your daily routine. A really easy way to get a lot of greens quickly is to add them to a smoothie. I love to have a green smoothie in the morning using my NutriBullet. Greens contain Vitamin C, Vitamin E and folate which are all amazing immune boosting nutrients. Adding some extra protein to the smoothie also helps keep you full. It is important to choose a healthy protein- check out the recipe for the smoothie pictured below that includes some Aloha protein powder which is vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, Non-GMO and organically grown. Check out this awesome protein powder: Aloha Protein Powder

2. Lower Your Stress 
Chronic stress can do some serious damage to your immune system. When we are stressed we leave ourselves more susceptible to getting sick. The hormones released while we are stressed have been shown to suppress our immune system. Stress effects our digestive system, our heart rate, our ability to sleep and our overall health in general. If you find you are always feeling stressed out then you should take some steps to lower that stress. One way to lower stress is to take some time every day in order to do something that helps you feel relaxed. I love to journal, take a walk or a nice warm bath to  help me feel relaxed and recharged. 

3. Stay Out of Crowded Places 
Being in large crowds or small spaces with other people is a recipe to catch a virus. I know it is not feasible to stay inside of your house all winter long but being mindful while you are out can really boost your chances of staying healthy. Instead of seeing the premiere of that movie you've been dying to see- wait a couple of weeks and see it in a less crowded theater. Save trips to the grocery store for during the week when it is less crowded- and use the cart sanitizing wipes! I like to bring a bottle of the Honest Company's antibacterial spray with me when I go out. I spray my hands when I am leaving the store before I grab my daughter or before I touch any of her toys. I know it may sound a little extreme- but during the winter when Croup, RSV and the flu are rampant I would rather be safe rather than sorry. 

4. Wash Your Hands! 
Wash, wash, wash! After getting home from being out- wash your hands. Before touching your face or mouth- wash your hands! After shaking someone's hand or playing a game of basketball- wash your hands! In general just be more aware of keeping clean.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep 
Sleep is an integral component of good health. Studies have shown a link between lack of sleep and a host of health problems. Sleep also helps reduce stress which is another enemy of the immune system. It's important to stay away from the bright screens of computers and smartphones when you're settling down for the night. The bright screens can alter the natural cycle of sleep. Quality sleep can be a great defense against the flurry of colds and illnesses of the winter season. I love to use essential oils to help me have high quality sleep (if you would like more information on essential oils contact me!). Melatonin and drinking chamomile tea are also some natural ways to help you get thpse Zzzz's.

6. Drink Water 
Drink water...drink water....drink water!!! I can't say it enough. Our bodies rely on water to function- without it we die. If you put down the soda and grab a water you will not only feel better but you will increase your chances of staying healthy. Water flushes toxins from our bodies, aids in digestion, oxygenates our cells and increases the function of our immune systems. Shoot for drinking at least 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water per day. I have found that keeping track throughout the day helps me drink enough. 

7. Eat Whole Foods 
If you have read my blog you know I have strong feelings about processed foods. I believe that our overly sugar-filled, chemical-laden and genetically modified food of today is slowly killing us. The unnatural additives are tough on our bodies and they are wrecking our immune systems. If you want to stay healthy then fill your body with colorful vegetables, fruit and high quality meat. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to function increases its ability to protect you from illnesses. Check out this site for some awesome recipes: Aloha Recipes. Here is a picture of a Paleo one from Aloha that I am dying to try:

Superfood Spaghetti Squash & Avocado Pesto

8. Exercise 
Get up and move! Exercise has been proven to make us healthier. Exercise raises our body temperature- which may aid in fighting off bacteria. Exercise also increases the circulation of white blood cells which could result in detecting viruses or bacteria faster. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress which we know is a good thing for your immune system. You don't have to be a Olympic athlete to reap the health benefits of exercise- you just have to consistently get your body moving. Exercise does not have to be a chore- find something that you love and that gets you out and about. Go out dancing, go for a hike or grab a friend and take a long walk! 

9. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
If you smoke- now is the time to stop. There is no denying that smoking is terrible for your health. Especially your lungs- and winter is the time for a lot of respiratory issues. Alcohol also has negative consequences to our bodies and our immune systems. Alcohol is usually accompanied by nights out which end in little sleep. Being in a bar that's crowded, drinking too much and then not sleeping (while dehydrating your body) is the perfect storm that really increases your chances of catching something. 

10. Consider Probiotics 
Gut (or stomach) health has been a major focus of research recently. Many studies are finding that our gut health is related to our overall health and that it plays a really important role in immune function. Balancing out the good and bad bacteria in our gut can be achieved by ridding our systems of inflammatory foods, adding fermented foods to our diets and by taking a daily probiotic. This is a very exciting area of research that I have been interested in for the past year. Although the body of research is currently in the growth phases- there is a lot of data out there that is showing us that we need to heal our guts! 

In conclusion adopting a healthy lifestyle is your best defense against becoming sick. Consistently treating your body well and giving it the sleep, water, exercise and nutrients it needs will not only make you feel wonderful- it will help you stay well. By adopting a healthy lifestyle you will also find that if you do get a dreaded winter cold your recovery time will be a lot shorter and your body will do a better job of fighting that cold! So start now and drink a glass of water, go to that class at the gym you've wanted to try, eat a healthy dinner and get a good nights sleep! 
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