From October to March, there’s one question I answer far more than others: I’m sick. What can I do to feel better? While our care and supplementation can decrease symptoms of sicknesses like cold and flu and potentially reduce the number of sick days, why not be proactive and prevent sickness before it knocks you out? If you’re curious about how to empower your body with the tools it needs for wellness this winter, here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make.
Prevent illness with nutrition.
During seasons when we’re more at risk for illness, the body needs a little extra nourishment. Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods — and eliminating inflammatory ones — is a great way to give your body the tools it needs to fight that pesky virus! During cold season, focus on increasing your intake of Vitamin A, which you can get from beta-carotene rich foods like carrots, liver and cod liver oil. You’ll also need extra Vitamin D, so load up on the green leafy veggies, eggs, and salmon. Limiting sugar, dairy, alcohol and other inflammatory foods and drinks can also give you an extra boost. And of course, staying hydrated with water and minerals is key. Since sickness-fighting proteins are transported through our bodily fluids, a dehydrated person can get sick more easily and stay sick longer.
Choose the right supplements.
Though an individual’s supplementation need varies widely based on what’s going on in their body, all of us need certain nutrients to fend off sickness, especially as the darker, germ-ridden months approach. Here are a few I recommend grabbing and taking regularly through the fall and winter seasons:
● Vitamin A, which promotes healthy mucus membranes
● Vitamin C, which boosts overall immunity
● Vitamin D, which regulates hormones and has immune properties that fight the flu
● Other supplements to try include elderberry, cloves, and cinnamon. Watch out for echinacea, as frequent use can exhaust the immune system, while use during a virus can give you a temporary boost.
● Essential oil blends with cinnamon, clove, peppermint, lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus, many of which have unique antiviral properties. Just use sparingly on delicate skin (always with a carrier oil!), and around pets and kids since these extracts are potent!
Prevent stress as much as possible.
Where our mind wanders matters. People often find they get sick more easily when they’re under a lot of stress. This is likely tied to the exhaustion our adrenal glands experience after stressful episodes. Replenishing the adrenals with trace minerals and managing your stress levels (link to as post) through mindfulness and meditation may be key to preventing disease.
Pay attention to your posture.
Many people assume germs cause disease. This isn’t necessarily true. If it were, conjoined twins, who share a blood stream, would always get sick simultaneously. But they don’t! Often, only one will get an illness like strep throat while the other is spared.
Fascinatingly, it’s often the twin who has poorer posture that gets sick more frequently. There is also only one body system that conjoined twins don’t share: a nervous system. This leads me to believe our immune system is highly controlled by our nervous system, which is housed inside the spine, responsible for our posture.
To keep your posture in check, schedule regular chiropractic adjustments in the winter months. It’s also important to monitor how frequently you use your electronic devices, since looking down at a phone or laptop is a major culprit of poor posture. Finally, adding more exercise (especially the postural ones we give you in our office) into your routine, even low-impact activities like yoga and pilates, can do wonders for spinal posture.