06 Nov 2017
Stay Healthy This Winter
The weather is cooling down, the winter wardrobe is emerging, and you may be shutting those windows and starting to crank up the heat. With a new season fast approaching, this often comes with the sniffles and sneezes - or worse!
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to prepare yourself. It's important, however, that you start supporting your immune system and inflammatory response now in order to stay healthy throughout the winter, and into the spring.
Here are a few ways to support your body:
1. A healthy gut equals a healthy immune system.
Seventy percent of the immune system lives in your intestinal lining, so it’s no surprise that the key to a well-balanced immune system is making sure the bacteria inhabiting your gut are healthy and thriving. Many people will add in a daily probiotic, however, different probiotics have different effects so specific probiotics are needed to help with specific issues. It's important to select the correct ones to reap the benefits. Also, doses for specific symptoms will vary depending on the species and strain of bacteria being taken so it's important to get good advice before proceeding. Since probiotic dietary supplements lack strong scientific evidence demonstrating their safety and effectiveness, your best bet may be adopting a probiotic-rich diet (also, supplements can be pricey).
Your gut is home to over 100 trillion microbes from over 1,000 different species. Commercial probiotics typically contain between one and two different species of microbes in doses of 1 million to 25 million colony-forming units. In other words, one typical supplement contains 0.0001 of 1 percent of the total microbial population of your gut. It also represents 0.1 percent of the species diversity of your gut's rich, diverse, complex ecosystem. In this way, probiotic pills really are like a drop in the ocean; unlikely to infiltrate and change this complex ecosystem in a measurable and sustained way.
Plus there is also the important factor for many:- you’ll need to go a step further, addressing the root cause of any gut issues, reducing inflammation, and supporting healthy digestion.
Some foods to add to your shopping lists that are natural probiotics for a healthy gut:
2. Take herbs or supplements that reduce inflammation.
When we think of allergies, we’re often thinking of the symptoms associated with allergies—runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches—but at the core, we’re really experiencing an inflammatory response to foreign particles. Aim for a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet focused on whole foods like vegetables, fruit, fish, free-range animal products, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods. Incorporate fermented foods like kimchi, live kraut, and shoyu into your daily routine, which can improve the wellbeing of your beneficial bacteria and make you less reactive to various allergies (one exception would be in histamine intolerance, where fermented foods make you worse). Avoid any food allergies that are problematic for you – common culprits include wheat and dairy which may make you less reactive to environmental allergies. It is also important that when eliminating a food source to determine if these are the culprits, you'll need to do it for at least 3 weeks, ideally 6 weeks, and the same goes for introducing a food to combat an allergy.
3. Leverage diet to reduce allergy symptoms.
Even if you don’t have food allergies, eating a healthy diet supports the immune system and makes you less prone to an allergy attack. I recommend choosing foods that fight inflammation like organic plants and foods high in fibre and healthy fats while avoiding refined sugars, processed white flour, dairy products, and red meats.
4. Ease your stressors.
Like the foods we eat, stress can also trigger an inflammatory response, which makes it even more important that you manage anxiety and any chronic stressors. Incorporating some mindful healing into your daily routine - meditation, exercise, stretching, and deep breathing - will help to alleviate the inflammatory response.
5. Reduce your exposure to harmful toxins.
As obvious as it sounds, harmful toxins are sometimes lurking where you’d least expect them, for example in personal care and cleaning products. Toxins can damage the immune system and trigger inflammation. To reduce exposure, you might consider buying water filters, replacing toxic household products with natural alternatives, or installing air filters to cleanse your environment.