The following article is being reproduced with permission of its author, Kate Towell. Kate is a holistic wellness counselor who supports individuals to create the balanced, vibrant life they imagine.
“This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!” — D.M. Dellinger
'Tis the season of celebrating with friends and family—and you have a seemingly endless to-do list. I know I do! Don’t let your holiday plans be derailed by a winter bug. According to Ayurveda, winter can aggravate conditions that weaken your immune system—so it's essential to take good care of yourself at this time of year. With that goal in mind, here are some of my favorite solutions to keep your immune system strong and your energy up all winter long.
- Start Your Day with Warm Grains - Start your day with a comforting bowl of oatmeal and build immunity from the get-go. Whole grain oats contain beta-glucan, a compound shown to activate immune cells that fight infectious microorganisms and are a source of immunity-building zinc. For the most benefit, choose steel-cut or old-fashioned rolled oats rather than sugary instant varieties.
- Pick a Natural Kick - Energy dips in the winter, when sunlight is scarce. Starting your day with a triple espresso may undermine your immune system. Caffeine stresses the adrenals, the glands that sit atop the kidneys and support the body's immunity and energy. Instead of lattes make a cup of tea. Try licorice, nettle or ginger.
- Eat Kale - You might be surprised to know that, ounce for ounce, kale is a richer source of beta-carotene than carrots or sweet potatoes, which makes it a top choice for fighting off colds and the flu. This robust leafy green also has high levels of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that's important for immune function.
- Have Some Pumpkin Seeds - Pumpkin seeds are loaded with the mineral zinc, which can help you fight colds and flu. Zinc plays a big role in immune function by increasing the production of various immune cells that are involved in the body's response to viruses.
- Get Some Elderberry Extract - I love Elderberry extract. It tastes great and is the strongest natural antiviral that I am aware of. I recommend Sambucus by Nature's Way - it comes in both liquid and chewable forms.
- Soothe Your Sinuses - Most colds enter the body through the nose's mucous membranes. A neti pot, a traditional Indian spouted vessel used to rinse the sinus passages, helps to clear the area of excess mucus and viruses. Rinse twice a day for cold and flu prevention.
- Explore Ayurveda - When stocking your natural-medicine kit this season, don't forget the Ayurvedic herbs ashwagandha and turmeric. Both are clinically proven to bolster flagging immunity. Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) is a powerful immune-system builder. Turmeric is beneficial for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. When cooking with turmeric, you can add a pinch of black pepper to increase its absorption.
- Keep Moving - Cold temperatures are no excuse to forget your exercise routine. The key is to not knock yourself out, especially if family members or co-workers are sick. To prime your immune system, get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
- Strike a Heart-Opening Pose - An easy way to avoid getting colds and flu is to weave more heart-opening poses, such as Cobra Pose, Fish Pose, and Bridge Pose, into your yoga practice. If you are new to yoga watch this video.
- Chill Out - Take time to relax. All of the rush of the Holidays and increased traffic, lights and sounds can increase leaving us exhausted. With all the extra errands, parties and activities of the holidays schedule a down day to just chill.
Have a wonderful Holiday Season!