This flu season, be proactive to avoid getting a bug.
‘Tis the season…to come home with a cold or flu. Don’t end up being all Bah-Humbug all winter long. Instead, do what you can to boost your immunity. To help you do just that, we looked to both eastern and western medicine for ten easy ways you can try to keep the Ho, Ho, Ho in your holidays. We spoke both to New York Accupuncturist Alexis Arvidson and One Medical's Shilpi Agarwal, MD, in Washington D.C. for our answers.
Arvidson says, “Live with the wisdom of the season.” Short days and long nights, so get more sleep and rest. “This is the time for gathering yin, which is where our resources to fight infection and environmental factors come in.” Agarwal agrees. “When you’re asleep, the body rebuilds and restores itself, making you more likely to be equipped to fight off infection.”
Arvidson says to drink “Bone broth!” She calls broth made from grass-fed and humanely treated cows and chickens “a healing immune support elixir.” She has a recipe on her website, but says there are many little restaurants popping up serving grass-fed broths by the cup full. “The Braggs apple cider vinegar in it leeches the mineral goodness from the bones and into the broth.”
Eat warm cooked seasonal foods like stews and soups. “Your body needs foods that are easy to digest as well as warming to the entire system as it uses resources to defend against harsh weather conditions,” says Arvidson. “You can add spices such as garlic, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, cayenne and cinnamon to increase the internal warming effects.”
Agarwal says, “The most important way to protect yourself against the flu specifically is to get the flu shot. The CDC recommends that anyone older than 6 months get the vaccination as soon as possible--even if you got the shot last year. Also, remember that by getting vaccinated, you’re protecting those around you, especially those too young to get the flu shot themselves.”
Exercise is key. Arvidson says, “The number one common ground found in all centenarians is a daily walk. This positive physical habit has far-reaching benefits. It keeps your body and mind fit, acts as a meditation in nature when done alone or as device-free time to connect with your dearest companions when walking together.” Agarwal too says regular exercise will boost your immune system.
In addition to washing your hands with soap and warm water or sanitizing gel for 20 seconds says Agarwal (or “as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday” once or twice depending on your singing speed), keep your surfaces clean. “Disinfect surfaces in your home and in your office to protect yourself against germs. This is important because viruses can live on surfaces for several hours after initial contact.”
An interesting immunity booster from Arvidson: “Getting sick isn't the worst thing that's ever happened. It's your body’s and nature’s natural flu shot. Every time your experience illness or disease, your body is becoming stronger. Remember that the next time you feel under the weather and thank your physical form for all the wondrous work it does. And while you're on the mend go back to number one, REST.”
Drink lots of room-temperature water. “This is all year, everyday,” says Arvidson “Start the day with a glass full. Try a glass of water 20 minutes before each meal, and also sip warm water throughout the day. Staying hydrated in the cold and dry season will protect your greatest barrier, your skin, and allow you to stay warm and healthy inside that boundary.”
Acupuncture treatments, says Arvidson, can also boost your immunity and increase your ability to be centered so you can better intuit what your body and mind needs most to be well.
Get your vitamins in. “Mushrooms are immune-boosting,” says Arvidson, as are sea vegetables. “Mushrooms contain selenium, potassium, Vitamin D, B Vitamins and beta glucans that are all great for your immune system.” She’s big on Vitamin D3 drops, too, to help your body fight off infection and viruses. The goal: not normal D levels, but above normal to fend off infection and keep you emotionally balanced