By Susan Hilton RN, MSN & Certified Aromatherapist
You already know that your immune system helps fight harmful bacteria and other invaders on and in your body. But you might not know it also influences virtually every other system in your body — from your hormones to your nervous system. Your immune system is a collection of white blood cells scattered throughout your body, and there are two major goals for immune cells:
1. Addressing issues INSIDE your cells.
2. Attacking infections on the OUTSIDE of the cells.
Your immune system needs to be in great shape during this season of colds and flu. We are unfortunately more likely to spread germs among one another this time of year. It’s in the winter months when we also seek comfort in carb-heavy foods and sweets. While there is something to be said for treating the symptoms of illness with natural remedies, the best way to fight a cold or the flu is to prevent it from ever happening. The truth is that a high-functioning immune system will be able to successfully battle the flu and even the common cold without expensive prescriptions or preventative injections.
Let’s look at five ways to improve your immune system and stay healthy this winter.
1. Limit or Eliminate Processed Foods – Processed carbohydrates including white flours and certainly sugar can wreak havoc on your immune health, spreading inflammation and compromising your ability to ward off illness. Alcohol can also hinder immune function. Though this may be the time of year for indulgence and celebration, limit these toxins if you want to make it through the season without getting sick.
2. Stock up on Whole, Organic Produce – Fruits and vegetables can provide numerous antioxidants and vitamins that your immune system needs to function properly. Try to add fresh produce in place of the processed carbs you would normally eat. Juicing or making green smoothies can also help tremendously when it comes to boosting immunity.
3. Herbal and Essential Oil Protections – There are all-natural herbs and therapeutic grade essential oils that can do wonders for immune health. Elderberry, Echinacea, and Cinnamon are all good options to keep on hand for making protective herbal teas. Cooking with extra garlic, turmeric, and ginger can also boost your immune system. When choosing essential oils, look for those with anti-virus and anti-bacteria therapeutic components. These can be diffused in your home to help everyone in the household stay healthy.
4. Relax – This time of year it’s normal to be a little more stressed than usual. Make sure you are taking time to get plenty of sleep and unwind. Also, daily exercise isn’t only important for your fitness, but also for your mental health and ultimately your immune health.
5. Vitamin D – The “sunshine vitamin” is especially important this time of year especially with the sun being more difficult to get during the winter. Make sure you are spending some time in the sun, whenever it decides to show its face. And if your winter doesn’t allow you the sun you need, consider adding a supplement just for the colder, darker months.
In order to stay healthy, you need to have healthy habits. Tis the season for colds and flu, but you don’t have to be a statistic this year. Eat right, get active, and keep your immune system functioning as it should. If you do get sick, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, consume some immune-boosting foods, and try some therapeutic grade essential oils to help you feel better.
The Nature Cottage specializes in health and wellness products and treatments featuring therapeutic grade essential oils. We are now located at 21 South Main Street in Lexington. Come in to talk with our educated staff. Susan Hilton is a Registered Nurse and Certified Aromatherapist. She will be happy to help you with your health and wellness needs. Please come in to see us or contact us by logging onto thenaturecottage.com or calling us at 336-843-4297.