Optimal Winter Wellness: Top 8 Tips to Boost Immunity!
For those of you that missed my talks on boosting immunity at both Wholistic Care Center and Creekside Wellness, here are some of the highlights! Beyond the basic cornerstones of proper rest and digestion, here are some details that may not be as obvious:
1. Protein intake: It starts at 1.2g/kg of body weight (full details here)- proteins are the building blocks of your antibodies and immune system (and so much more), so it is crucial for your immunity to consume sufficient protein.
2. Reduce/eliminate sugar: Refined or junk foods, pop, etc. Sugar paralyzes the immune system, thus allowing weakened defenses, and it is also “damp” in Chinese Medicine- leading to mucus formation (see Dairy below).
3. Reduce/eliminate dairy and gluten: Dairy and gluten are “damp”/mucus-forming, which thickens secretions and impedes the removal of microbes from the system. Think of a free flowing river versus a thick swamp- which one would be easier to wash a bowl in? Same goes for your immune system- light/clean versus sludgy.
4. Eat mostly warm, cooked foods in the winter. Raw foods are hard to digest, and their coldness cools the system, which could be detrimental in an already-cool environment.
5. Keeping warm: proper body temperature keeps bacteria and viruses in check, and your system functioning its best so that it can fight microbes. Think of a fever- your body has to alter its temperature in order to kill bacteria/viruses. When cool, cover your head and extremities- the highly vascularized areas can easily affect heat loss/gain. From Chinese Medicine, cover your “Wind Gate” and “Ming Men Fire”! The Wind Gate (nape of the neck) is where pathogens enter the system, and if you’ve ever had an exposed neck in harsh conditions, you can confirm that it’s a sensitive spot. Keep covered to guard yourself against the elements. Your Ming Men Fire (essentially between your ribs and pelvis) is where your heat and vitality burn- try ultra-covering this area when you feel cold and you’ll see a remarkable difference in warmth!
6. Castor Oil Packs: Directly stimulate Peyer’s Patches, the home of the massive immune system of the gut, the health of which greatly affects the immune system as a whole.
7. Stress support: During stress, one releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol suppresses both inflammation and the immune system (think cortisone cream), thus leading to lowered immunity and a decrease in microbe-fighting inflammation. Also, caffeine and alcohol increase cortisol.
8. Move your lymph: The lymphatic system (i.e. residence of the immune system) is located quite superficially, just below our skin. To affect its flow, one can use Alternating Showers, exercise or rebounding (due to increased circulation and impactful bodily movement), or Dry Skin Brushing. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you should probably come to my next talk ;)
There is so much more that naturopathic medicine has to offer your immunity, but these are some basic tips that will greatly improve your immunity, and health as a whole! For more personalized care, book an appointment with a naturopathic doctor near you.