Many of you ask me what I do to stay healthy in the winter so I thought I’d share! This time of year almost everybody that comes through our door is either coming down with a cold or getting over a cold. I’m constantly exposed to all the coughing and sneezing that’s going around, not to mention my two kids are walking germ bombs. Since getting sick myself is pretty much not an option, I have cultivated a finely tuned routine of immune boosting.
What I take on a daily basis:
The only three supplements that I take on a daily basis are Vitamin D, a food-based multivitamin and a probiotic. Recently the media has been on the probiotic bandwagon and information about how crucial our gut health is to our immune system is everywhere. This is undoubtedly true and often overlooked in our daily diets. In the winter I make sure that I take my probiotic every day and also eat more fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, raw miso, and kimchee. Fermented foods are loaded with healthy restorative bacteria for our gut. When looking for these fermented foods, make sure you find brands that specifically say they are Live cultured foods because the healthy microbes are destroyed by pasteurization or processing. Great places to shop for live fermented foods are local farmers markets and local health food stores.
Vitamin D is a powerhouse at helping your body fight off a wide range of infections. We are finding now that even in the summer months many of us don’t make enough Vitamin D so it’s especially important to supplement in the winter with the shorter days and more inside time. The best thing to do is check your Vitamin D levels annually with your doctor and then supplement accordingly. I take a daily dose of 4,000IU in an oil-based emulsion and then 10,000IU every Sunday for a boost because my levels are on the low side. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so taking it in oil drops or gels increases it’s absorbability.
What I take when I just start to feel sick or if I was heavily exposed to sickness:
Yes, I do have a couple secret magic tricks that I will share with you that I know boost my immune system and keep me from getting a full-blown cold. First is a concentrated supplement from a beloved NC company called Gaia Herbs. Their amazingly beautiful farm and herb processing center are located right here in Brevard, NC. Check out their website, www.gaiaherbs.com, to see gorgeous pictures of the fields of Echinacea, one of the main ingredients in my favorite winter supplement, Quick Defense. I take 2 of these 4 times/day for a couple days when I need to and poof! It’s like having an immune system super-power and any icky/getting sick feelings are banished.
My other secret magic trick is kinda predictable considering what I do, Chinese Herbs. Our Chinese herbal pharmacy has everything you need to keep your body’s defense system engaged, and also lots to offer when you are beyond saving and have a fever, sinus pain and phlegm in your head or chest. The problem is that Chinese herbals are incredibly individualized, that’s why they work so well and so fast. One formula might be spot on for your cold, but totally off the mark for another person’s. Do not go to the health food store and buy a bottle of Chinese herbs because your friend took them once and they helped them. You need to come see a professional herbalist and get a formula custom-made for you. The most effective way to take herbs when you’re sick is to drink them, so that means putting up with some bitter flavors. BUT, it is worth every sip in order to feel better and not need to take antibiotics or over the counter meds. Even my kids, now that they’re a little older, dutifully drink their teas when they’re sick and I haven’t had to refill my son’s asthma inhaler in over 2 years.
The one caveat to what I’ve listed above is that nothing in the world will save you from sickness if you aren’t getting enough sleep. We need to sleep and to rest. If you’re well rested even the most stressful of days is surmountable. Your body can and will do what needs to be done if it gets it’s sleep. So my biggest advice for not getting sick this winter seems like a no-brainer but I know that very few of us actually do this: power-down at night and put yourself to bed earlier. Good luck and we’re here for you if you need us!