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March 11, 2020
Author: Orna Villazan
It’s almost Spring but and we’re still feeling like we’re in the grips of winter. We’re often struggling with cold, wet weather and we’re tired of feeling cooped up indoors. To make matters worse it’s peak flu season, which makes us more susceptible to coming down with the flu. The various flu viruses will change over the years, some are more virulent than others, and there’s never just the one. However, regardless of which ones are prevalent in a given season, there are steps we can take to protect our bodies from infection as well as support our immune system to successfully fight flu viruses.
We often underestimate the importance of basic daily habits on our overall health. Perhaps we hear them repeated so regularly that we tune them out, perhaps there are so many we get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, or perhaps we feel we’re too busy to incorporate changes that require a little effort. There’s a reason, however, why they come up repeatedly: they are tried and true and have proven their effectiveness over and over again.
Below is a list of some of these healthy lifestyle choices that can have a very big impact on your health and on your immune system. There’s no need to do them all if it’s too much. Pick one or two and start there; or add one new one you’re not already doing. Every little step that nurtures and nourishes you will help you feel stronger and more energized.
I cannot emphasize this one enough. In this age of late nights and high stress we prioritize everything but sleep. Sleep is our body’s natural defense, when our body heals and repairs and builds reserves to deal with the everyday stresses and challenges of our lives. Lack of sleep is well known to weaken our immune system. Going to bed early, before 10pm if possible, and getting a good 7-9 hours is ideal. A relaxing beverage before bed such as Botanica’s Lavender Moon Mylk can be a beautiful addition to support a healthy sleep routine.
Stress can be experienced in many ways. It is not necessarily the ‘overwhelmed, I can’t handle this’ level of stress that I am referring to, although this can obviously affect us deeply. It is also the constant day-to-day demands that we find ourselves pushing and forcing ourselves to get through. There will always be stress in our lives, but learning to prioritize down time, play time, and relaxation time can be essential. Tools such as meditation, deep breathing, and therapy to help change our perspective can be helpful to shift out of the ‘fight-or-flight’ or ‘life and death’ experience of stress. Our adrenal glands are often what take the biggest hit when under chronic stress as they try to cope with the high demands. Elevated cortisol, one of our adrenal hormones, is well known to suppress our immune system. Botanica’s Perfect Protein Elevated Adrenal Support is a blend of protein powder and herbs to support the adrenal glands and help us better adapt to and manage the stress in our lives. It also contains Reishi, an excellent immune strengthening mushroom.
Aim for a rainbow and have it cover half your plate. I like to get at least 5-6 vegetables per meal (garlic with its wonderful antimicrobial properties and onion count, so it’s very doable!). Cut up a variety of veggies over the weekend and then throw them into your meals in various ways throughout the week. These powerhouses of immune boosting nutrients are nature’s bountiful offer to us. When our immune system is fighting infection, it will use up far more reserves of nutrients than it might normally. If it doesn’t have what it needs to do its job appropriately, it will weaken and be less effective. Regularly falling short with our fruits and vegetables make us more vulnerable to chronic illness, inflammation and infection. Botanica’s Perfect Greens – Berry can be an easy way to increase your greens intake if you are struggling to get enough on a daily basis.
This one can be a drag as it removes many of our fun treats, but unfortunately sugar can suppress the immune system for several hours after consumption, making us much more vulnerable to infection. When we are feeling run down, tired from lack of sleep, or someone near us is fighting the flu, it is best to avoid sugar completely. Fruit can address our sweet tooth and provide rich sources of vitamin C and other immune boosting nutrients. Botanica’s Reishi Hot Chocolate is another healthy immune supportive treat with its rich chocolate flavour and dose of infection fighting Reishi mushroom.
Regular physical activity will improve your general health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of several illnesses. Exercise can also improve immune function and decrease the risk of respiratory infections. We all have our areas of weakness when it comes to self care and this one is mine. In the summer I love hiking, but in the winter I can easily fall into an overly sedentary lifestyle when the gym feels like a huge effort to get to. So I dance! I play my favourite feel-good songs and dance away to my heart’s delight. Find your way to move and get the amazing health benefits that come with it.
Mushrooms have long been overlooked but in recent years have been gaining their rightful place as powerful immune supportive foods. All mushrooms, even the little white button mushrooms are an excellent addition to your diet, but some mushrooms will have deeper impacts than others. Look for Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, Enokitake, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms to include regularly in your diet. There are also some powerful medicinal mushrooms that are not edible but best taken as prepared tinctures or powders. One of my favorites for deep immune protection and modulation is Reishi. Botanica’s Seven Medicinal Mushrooms is an excellent formula for deep immune activity to protect against infection as well as help recover more quickly from a respiratory infection.
It’s helpful to be cautious during the flu season but we don’t need to live in fear. Let’s put important preventive practices in place for ourselves that will help avoid catching the flu but also help us recover more effectively should it be needed. Let’s get through this last stretch of winter strong and energized and ready to take advantage of all the beauty that spring has to offer.