- Clean up your eating and focus on whole foods and emphasize lots of veggies and fruits. Fresh produce has a plethora of immune-boosting and viral fighting nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Zinc. Also, emphasize warm, cooked foods and foods that don't produce excess mucus. Some of the worst offenders for foods that promote phlegm are dairy products, processed foods and sugar.
- Wash Your Hands (of course!)
- Take the food-based herb elderberry daily for prevention. One of my favorite elderberry products for this is Herb Pharm Alcohol-Free Elderberry Tincture (we carry this in the clinic). Take one full dropperful daily for prevention this time of year. If you feel like you're coming down with something or if you know you've been exposed (like on an airplane or in a child's classroom) take 1 dropperful three times per day.
- Reduce stress and make sure you're getting enough rest. As you know, stress and lack of sleep tank the immune system. Get back to the basics of stress management and make sure your immune system doesn't have any unnecessary taxation.
- Drink immune-boosting herbal teas. Some of my favorites are echinacea, rosehips, lemongrass and astragalus (don't drink astragalus if you're already sick though, this is just for prevention).
- Eat high fiber foods and foods rich in probiotics. Gut health is very important to our immune system. High fiber foods feed good bacteria in the GI tract. Aim for 35 grams of fiber per day. You can also eat traditionally fermented sauerkraut for a wonderful food-based probiotic. You'll find this sauerkraut in the refrigerated section and the ingredients will just be vegetables (usually cabbage, sometimes with other veggie additions), water and salt (no vinegar). Some of the most common brands are Bubbies and Farmhouse Culture. Locally here in Jax we also have Olive My Pickle which produces traditionally fermented products.
- Diffuse essential oils like cinnamon, clove, sage, rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon at your home and office. These have known anti-pathogenic properties and can help viruses from spreading.
- Boost your defenses with acupuncture. In Chinese Medicine theory we have something called our "Wei Qi." Wei Qi loosely translates as our body's defense system and there are certain acupuncture points, that when stimulated, can protect from unwanted invaders like viruses. There are several good acupuncture points for this, two of which are Large Intestine 10 and Stomach 36. When used together, these two points are called the "Inner 4 Gates" and are especially effective for boosting the immune system, as well as providing an energy boost.
Here's to a healthy season!