Monday, December 20, 2010

From Bears to Sugar - How to Stay Healthy This Winter

At this time of the year I'm asked the same question over and over again - How do I stay healthy this winter? My answer -  trust your body. Why? Because, when we give our body everything it needs, your immune system can fight any virus that comes around. Seems too simple, right?

We all know how important our immune system is to our overall health. Everyday it's searching our body for viruses, bacteria, and anything else that doesn't belong there. Like our digestive system, our immune system functions best when we're happy and relaxed. If you're stressed, how well is your immune system working? Think about it...if there was a bear chasing you, how much would your body really care about fighting a virus? It would be a pretty low priority compared to your immediate survival. This is how your body reacts to a virus when you are stressed about anything (otherwise known as fight or flight :).

When you're stressed your body doesn't care about your long-term survival. 
You're either stressed OR you're fighting off a cold or flu.

Our immune system has "guards" set up in our throat to signal the arrival and trap any viruses or bacteria that are attempting entry. These guards are our tonsils and adenoids. Put your hand up if you have had your tonsils and/or adenoids removed....yup, that's what I thought. Many of us will have our hands up as this was a very routine procedure until fairly recently. As well, our immune system has its own super highway (the lymphatic system) to move immune cells throughout the body. This amazing super highway is large but doesn't have a central pump (like the heart). It moves when you move. When you're moving around your lymph is moving around as well. It's one of the many reasons why regular exercise keeps your immune system strong!

What can you do to help your body fight off any infection that comes your way? Here are some simple steps you can take:
1. Reduce Stress - you're either stressed OR you're fighting off that bug! So stressing about getting sick is very counterproductive :)
2. Remove White Sugar - completely and totally. Studies have found that a moderate intake of refined sugar will suppress the immune system for up to 5 hours! FIVE hours! Yikes!
3. Identify Food Sensitivities - Food sensitivities can overwhelm the immune system and may allow things it should be fighting (viruses and bacteria) through its defenses.
4. Exercise - Keep your lymph moving!
5. Garlic - Its a great way to keep vampires away and its a potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial...when raw. If you're worried about the smell, simply feed everyone in your household raw garlic. Believe me, no one will notice :)

Remember, your body knows how to fight off anything that comes around. If you do come down with a cold or a flu this winter, rest, drink lots of water, and stay far, far away from white sugar. You'll be better in no time - and now your body has natural anti-bodies to that virus :).

And as always, feed your body with real food. Eat More Real Food (sound familiar :)