As the weather changes in autumn and colder temperatures set in, runny noses and sniffles start to seem like an epidemic. Add to that the sugar rush of Halloween, and most of us are set up for a series of colds and flu throughout the winter. Before you run out to get a flu shot, try these simple ways to boost your immune system naturally.
1. Drink your lemons. Lemons are an ideal food for restoring acid-alkali balance in your gut- the basis for your immune system. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in water or adding it to tea, salad dressings, baking or cooking, helps maintain the body's internal climate at a pH level which supports healthy bacteria instead of the viruses and harmful bacteria which thrive in more acidic environments. Drinking a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar is another easy way to improve your body's alkalinity and stimulate detoxification.
2. Give your body an herbal boost. Herbal supplements can give the immune system additional support during the winter. Talk with your acupuncturist about which formula is best for your unique constitution. Fresh herbs and whole food supplements like Standard Process are always preferable, since your body can more easily absorb their nutrient value.
3. Get a full night of sleep. Every body generally needs anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Sound sleep balances hormone levels (including human growth hormone and the stress hormone cortisol), keeps your weight down, improves mood and bolsters immunity. Whatever your personal sleep requirement is, make it a priority to get it nightly! Improve your sleep by turning off your screens and devices at least an hour before you hit the sack.
4. Kick the sugar habit. This is an important one. You will see noticeable results in your energy levels, weight, health and your ability to think clearly when you break the cravings and stop eating refined sugar. Healthier sugars such as fruit and stevia in small amounts are preferable, but avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda- they can be worse than cane sugar.
5. Stock up on raw fruits and vegetables. With their antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes, the nutritional content you receive from raw fruits and veggies is unparalleled. Many vitamins like C are antioxidants which protect your cells from environmental toxins. Dark-colored produce (berries, kale, broccoli) tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants. A perfect source of minerals to support your thyroid is seaweed.
6. Spend time outdoors. Exercise can make a noticeable difference to your health and wellness by releasing endorphins. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors, inhaling filtered air and germs, so take every opportunity to get outside. Time spent outdoors in the cold also stimulates the thyroid gland.
7. Get regular acupuncture treatments. Did you know acupuncture creates the release of your body's neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones that affect immune reactions and regulation of blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature? These biochemical changes can effectively stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. Scheduling regular acupuncture visits can provide you with ongoing vitality to prevent illness.