As our “winter” season is in full swing, it can be increasingly difficult to stay healthy. Not only are the flu, and other viruses, spreading throughout our schools, but adults are also catching these illnesses as well.
It can be harder to remember to eat healthy in the colder months. We tend to crave more comforting foods, instead of fresh salads and fruits like we would during the warmer months (which is completely normal by the way). During these colder months, our bodies long for things that will keep more fat on us in order to stay warm. And during the warmer months, it’s the opposite.
However, with flu season in full swing and sicknesses abound, we are more apt to turn to over-the-counter drugs and medicine, which isn’t always the best choice. Yes, many of these medicines provide instant relief, or close to it. Unfortunately, that’s not treating the real cause of the illness. It’s very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, or at the very least, making some healthier choices. during these winter months. I’ve compiled some important tips and tricks to stay healthy without the meds and hopefully to avoid these colds and illnesses altogether.
*I am not a medical professional. All of these tips are simply things that I have found to be helpful in staying healthy and preventing illness. As always, please consult with a doctor before taking any supplements.
The #1 most important tip
- WATER! The number one most important thing we can consume and put in our bodies (that very frequently gets overlooked) is water. We need to be drinking more water than you might think. Even though we don’t sweat as much during the winter, it doesn’t mean we aren’t dehydrated. Always remember that the number one thing for maintaining optimal health is to constantly have water with you and be drinking it all day long.
Vitamins & Minerals
- Zinc happens to be one of the biggest mineral deficiencies in the world and this deficiency is highly linked to increased colds and flu. Zinc is very important as it is one of the most common minerals in your body and found in every cell, making it that much more important to replenish this mineral. There are tons of food sources that have high levels of zinc, including oysters, beef steak, tahini, almonds, cashews, and chicken breast. However, it can also be beneficial to take a good Zinc supplement if you are prone to illness.
- Vitamins D– Most of us are very deficient in one or both of these vitamins. We tend to have more Vitamin D during the summer months because we are outside and absorbing it more through the sun. However, it’s not enough during the short winter days and sometimes a Vitamin D3 supplement is necessary. It is still just as important to get sun when you can during the winter, even if you are only getting a small percent of the Vitamin D that we get during the warmer months.
- Vitamin C is so vital during the winter months. It is well-known that high levels of Vitamin C can cure, or at least shorten, many illnesses. It is important with Vitamin C to focus more on the quality that you are getting rather than the quantity. Our bodies are amazing at discharging whatever vitamins and nutrients are not needed. The quality of vitamins you take is so important. As much as I love Target, I personally would not recommend buying their brand of synthetic Vitamin C or D. The best supplement sources will come from plant-based foods or oils. This goes for food as well. Try to stick to higher quality food sources. We have great local farms where you can get meats, fruits and veggies from. Don’t forget about all the wonderful farmers markets around town!
Nutrition & a healthy lifestyle
Eating tons of tangerines or oranges is ideal (and no, not orange juice, unless it is freshly squeezed and you drink it within minutes of it being squeezed). Unfortunately, a lot of people think juice has optimal levels of vitamins. This, however, is not the case. The sugar levels in the juices completely counteract any real benefits that may reside in the juice. Again, freshly squeezed juice is different, as is juicing, which are both great ways to consume “juice” and get a lot of nutrients. Most juices that are purchased from the store have been pasteurized and have added sugars, which tend to diminish the good, and real, nutrients your body needs.
Nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are definitely the key ways to maintaining your health in a natural way. So what happens if you are eating healthy and you still get sick? I know how easy it may be to reach for that box or jar of medicine, but remember that food is still your best medicine. It may not provide that instant relief you want, but it will heal you from the inside out, which is more important in maintaining good health over the long-term.
You have probably read, or at least heard about, different types holistic medicines. Let’s take elderberry syrup, for example. It’s healing benefits are amazing when fighting colds, the flu, coughs, etc. There are tons of local mamas who make amazing elderberry syrup with added herbs to help with different symptoms. You can also buy elderberry syrup from local grocery stores such as Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and other smaller health stores.
Berries such as blueberries, goji berries, mulberries, etc. pack a huge punch of antioxidants as well. So if you’re feeling like something you may be getting sick, then go ahead and make a smoothie packed full of good berries. A personal favorite of mine is blueberries with kale or other dark leafy greens, bananas, and almond milk.
The key to fighting off any virus or illness is to have the nutrients in you. Once a virus hits, it’s even harder to get rid of it and so easy to feed it. This makes for a vicious cycle. With the amount of unhealthy, overly processed food available, it makes getting healthy and staying healthy that much harder. But we all have to start somewhere. Our bodies have become deficient in so many key nutrients that are needed for maintaining optimal health. Supplementing our bodies with nutrients that we are often deficient in, along with proper nutrition, is a great way to jump-start your natural health goals. My last tip is to wash your hands, and wash them often! (But really try to avoid antibacterial hand soap as it kills off both good and bad bacteria that we need!)
Now get outside and soak up some good Vitamin D! Eat well to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and soon you won’t even look twice at those over-the-counter drugs anymore! This is only a short and sweet version of things to help you ensure optimal health during the winter months. Remember, making healthier choices may seem daunting at first, but even taking small steps can provide great results in the long run!