How to Stay Well in the Winter
It happens to us all (even us wellness professionals). The leaves begin to fall from the trees, the temperature drops, and we start to feel the beginnings of a cold or even the flu. Sore throat, earache, headache, tiredness, and even stomach flu are all prevalent at this time of year. Below are my 5 top tips for stopping winter illness in its tracks, or for fending it off altogether!
Look to Your Gut Health
Did you know approximately 70 % of your immune system is located in your digestive tract? All 2, 000 square feet of your intestinal lining has a permeable layer that is permeable to nutrients but blocks bad bacteria. When this mucosal layer is compromised in any way (by stress, illness, infection, antibiotic use, food allergies or intolerances), food particles can escape into your blood stream. The body sees these particles as ‘invaders’, and will set off an autoimmune response to fight back from what it sees as a threat. This auto immune response can manifest in the body in many different ways, and if you struggle with chronic tiredness, or a lowered immune system , looking to improve your gut health may be of benefit to you.
Some simple steps to improve your gut health can be to eliminate trigger foods from your diet (wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, caffeine), to rebuild the lining of your intestinal tract and replace the healthy bacteria by using the following Poliquin Group supplements:
- Proflora Excellence DF Caps
- Megabiotic SP
Take Extra Care of Your Day to Day Wellness
Getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of filtered water, mitigating stress, and eating 7-9 servings of veggies a day, lots of lean protein, healthy fats and targeted clean carbs - all of these things can be underestimated in the fight for health at this time if year. Your body needs even more support in the winter months, so giving it the fuel and rest it needs to fight off infections is a huge part of supporting your immune system right now.
We also tend to veer towards warming comfort foods at this time of year, and our veggie intake may go down as we move away from salads to hot foods. A great way to mitigate this is to turn to soups and stews, and roast big batches of the delicious seasonal vegetables available at this time of year, such as squashes, carrots, kale and fennel with coconut oil and salt and pepper.
Cut the Caffeine
As we begin to feel tired and lethargic due to the seasonal change and reduction in daylight hours, we may be tempted to reach for the coffee cup a little more than usual. However, adding in more caffeine (even the low acid, organic coffee that I recommend) to an already depleted immune system and stressed adrenal glands may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back. When your adrenals are already stressed they will struggle to cope with the extra cortisol produced by the caffeine in the coffee. Unfortunately, the only time we can really drink coffee without negative health implications for our adrenal glands is when we are feeling fit, well and energetic!
Also caffeine can have a drying effect on your mouth and throat, which will only compound the sore throat and earache prevalent with winter illness. This is a great time to turn to caffeine free herbal teas which will both hydrate you and benefit your health. I love Numi teas which are available from Whole Foods and local health stores (link at the bottom of the page) as an alternative to coffee.
Change Your Training
‘Overtraining’ at this time of year can also have a negative impact on our immune system. If you are beginning to feel unwell (or are having a busy, stressful week), you may wish to look at bringing down the volume of your training, and upping the intensity. This means utilizing a strength based training phase for 4-6 weeks, in which you would lift heavier weights (upping the intensity), for less repetitions (lowering the volume).
Take Targeted Supplements
As a Bio Signature Practitioner I always recommend everyone to take at least a basic stack of foundation supplements (Vitamin D, Magnesium, Multi Vitamin, Fish Oil and a Probiotic). However at this time of year we can look to smart supplementation to support our immune system and get us back to full health in record time.
For general immune support at the change of seasons I like to add in the following (all products mentioned here are available through the link below):
- Immutaki, a concentrated extract of 7 mushroom extracts that support cellular defenses and a healthy immune response.
- Uber C, a Vitamin C supplement availablein capsule or powder form, best taken post workout.
At the onset of illness:
- Immungraphis, a blend of asian and Ayurvedic herbs and antioxidants that promote a healthy immune response and especially support upper respiratory, liver, and immune system health.