Viruses are making the rounds at higher rates than normal. Here are some tried and true ways to keep the bugs at bay.
It’s that time of year, and I’m not talking about holiday prep — although that’s increasingly in full display with each passing day. I’m taking about illness. Everyone seems to be sick, and at even higher rates than usual when temperatures plunge in the northern hemisphere.
In fact, various news channels are reporting that there is a plethora of viral infections making the rounds and hitting hard — so much so that parents are missing work at record rates to take of kids, and themselves, and warnings of shortages of amoxycillin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic for upper respiratory infections, have been issued in the US.
If you find yourself under the weather, or just wanting to shore up the immune systems of your family, here are some tried and true ways to help you stay your healthiest at this time of year. (Please note that this is not intended as medical advice — always check with your health care provider about what health measures you should take.)
Do some form of exercise every day
I don’t know about you but when it’s cold, I just want to curl up by the fire and stay warm. At this time of year it can take extra effort to stick to a morning exercise routine, get out for a walk, or head to the gym. But exercise is essential for good health, keeping our immune systems strong, and managing stress. So commit yourself to doing something every day, – even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
Make bone broth
Bone broth has many reported health benefits, and is super easy to make. While many grocery stories carry it now, the most cost effective way to have bone broth is to make it yourself. All you need are some leftover bones (beef, chicken, pork, fish, etc), some aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, herbs), and a pot full of water. A quick search online will yield various instructions and recipes.
Get some extra sleep
The benefits of good quality sleep are well-known. When you sleep your body repairs itself. Quality sleep is one of the most important ingredients for a strong immune system and for healing from sickness and disease. When the seasons change and viruses are circulating, plan for some extra sleep by going to bed 30-60 min earlier.
Add immune-boosting supplements
Vitamins C, D3, and E are believed to be particularly useful in fighting viruses, as are zinc, selenium and quercetin. Herbal remedies, such as echinacea, have been found to stimulate the immune system, while probiotics, found in supplements or fermented foods, may have a positive effect on gut bacteria and therefore boost the immune system. (Whatever supplements you choose to take, make sure you get advice from a medical professional.)
Pour yourself a cup of tea
Many kinds of tea are high in antioxidants and have antiviral and antibacterial properties. And if you’re already sick, tea can soothe you and ease your symptoms while you heal and recover. Some of the teas that are reportedly beneficial include turmeric, ginger, licorice root, and green tea. A more expansive list can be found here.
Decrease sugar and processed foods
It’s no secret that eliminating sugary foods and drinks, as well as overly processed foods, is very important for good health. Studies have shown that sugar intake suppresses your immune system, so if you’ve got a sweet tooth, consider cutting back and choosing more nutritious alternatives. Pack a lunch for work instead of grabbing fast food, and check ingredients of the food you buy — the shorter that list, the better. If your great-grandmother didn’t have it on her table, give it careful consideration.
Keep stress levels down
According to the American Psychological Association, stress can reduce the number of natural killer cells in the body, known as lymphocytes, which we need to fight viruses. To keep stress levels down, be sure to take care of not just your physical health, but your mental health, too. Keep up with your friendships, get out into nature, see a therapist if you need it, and maintain a regular prayer life.
Get some fresh air
We spend so much time inside, but regular fresh air really helps our health. Exposing yourself to the sun will help your body make vitamin D, and breathing in fresh air will help your lungs and reduce airborne illness. So bundle up, and get outside more often.
By taking some extra care, you and your family will hopefully avoid major illness, and if you do get sick, you’ll have some tools at the ready to help you heal and get back on your feet!