Chelan Wilkins, RHN
National Education Trainer
As we find ourselves reaching for those scarves, wool jackets and winter boots we also find ourselves surrounded by the dreaded cold and flu season. Unfortunately, as the weather shifts into to the colder months, the epidemic of sickness start to rise! It becomes very common for workplaces to see an increase of “sick days” and the stress levels accumulate to accommodate the lack of work begin to set in.
So how do we stay healthy during the “cold and flu “ season, especially in the workplace? Here are some tips!
First, let’s talk about where the majority of our immune system resides! 70 % of our immune system is located in our digestive tract! Crazy right? So when we talk about keeping our immunity up, we really should focus on our digestive system and the foods we are eating!
Lots of people suffer from digestive disturbances, eat a poor diet, drink too much coffee, drink alcohol and suffer from high stress! These are all contributing factors to have a weak digestive tract – “ leaky gut”, IBS and even IBD ( Chrohns, Colitis, ). It is the “good bacteria” that resides in our intestines that keeps the bugs away, and if we have a compromised immune system, low beneficial bacteria leaves a window for our immune system to drop and bacteria’s to set in! This leads to low immunity and an increase of sickness during those seasons.
When we find ourselves surrounded by sickness, stress and even in highly populated places that have a high amount of “ germs” how can we protect ourselves from illness and keep our immunity up?
Here are a few of my recommendations to staying healthy:
Everything that we eat plays a role in our body positively or negatively! Ensuring that we eat nutrient dense foods filled with our essential vitamins and minerals will most definitely help protect us from illness and those unwanted “sick days”. It is essential to eat lots of dark leafy green vegetables filled with our essential B vitamins, alongside vitamin C rich foods such as fruits ( oranges, berries, grapefruits ). If you can eat organic, I highly recommend having them! Organic fruits and vegetables ensure that you are getting those essential vitamins and minerals. I also like to suggest getting in enough healthy fats, to reduce the inflammation in our body and to give us long-lasting energy!
Reduce Sugar Consumption:
Sugar consumption has been shown to suppress our immune system for up to 8 hours after ingesting it! When we consume a lot of sugar in our diets, it naturally decreases our immunity allowing the chance of viruses and bacteria to set it. This includes all sugars from sweets, candy and alcohol.
Wash your hands:
We all have been told to wash our hands after the washroom before we eat etc. However, we should always try to wash our hands after we use door handles, sneeze, cough and shake hands with others! Germs spread so quickly, and in a large environment like a workplace, it can be even worse!
Take your breaks & get fresh air:
I can’t stress the importance of fresh air. Taking your breaks, re-grouping and getting out into the fresh air not only clears your mind, but it also helps relieve stress and purify your lungs!
Supplement your immune system:
I like to help my immune system during the cold & flu season by adding some additional supports! A few of my favourites are as follows:
Probiotics:These help support the immune system with healthy bacteria that combat against various bad bacterias and support our immune system! They are essential in our Immunity.
Vitamin C:Vitamin C has been known for years to keep our immune system boosted, help combat illness as well shorten the recovery time from colds!
Pycnogenol:This powerhouse has remarkable healing properties in the body, as well as a powerful antioxidant! It binds to free radicals in the body, therefore reducing inflammation and oxidative stress!
Bone Broth:There are many benefits to consuming bone broth especially when we are not feeling well! It has been shown to increase our immune function, shorten the time of Upper respiratory tract infections and help with immunity in our digestive tract.
Sleep is so critical when it comes to how we feel! Our bodies need up to 8 hours of sleep a night! When we don’t get enough sleep, it causes our body to decrease its immunity. Long-term sleep deprivation will eventually lead to illness and other diseases. Our body does all its healing while we sleep, so it is vital to maintain our sleep routine and get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.