I’m a summer girl at heart.
Sunshine, swimsuits, longer days and warmer nights, vibrant colors and daily outside activities are the ingredients of my ideal life.
When the air starts to get cold and the leaves fall off the trees, my seasonal anxiety goes into full force. Sure, fall is pretty and whatever- but all I am thinking of is November 1st, the unofficial start to Cold & Flu season; it always hits me like a ton of bricks.
When you have three young kids in daycare and a husband that is a teacher, you know sickness is almost inevitable.
Or is it?
My winter-hate has fueled my research and I have come up with a list of ways you can use to keep yourself and your family healthy during Cold & Flu season! For my family- these work every time!
*I am not a doctor. This blog is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. All opinions are based on my own research and observation.
Probiotics– Probiotics are my favorite little critters in the entire world! Probiotics are super trendy right now- but for good reason! The research backs the many benefits of consuming quality probiotics on a daily basis. Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your health and specifically your digestive system. Much of this bacteria is naturally found in your body and adding a probiotic supplement can help fight the ‘bad’ bacteria in your system and keep your stomach environment balanced. Probiotics can be found naturally in many different foods, especially fermented foods and various dairy products. Probiotics have even been shown to improve skin conditions like eczema, allergies, oral health, and the prevention of colds!
Some of my favorite foods that include probiotics are: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, miso soup, tempeh, dark chocolate, and algae.
It is important to find a quality probiotic supplement and my suggestion is probiotics that you have to keep in the refrigerator; these seem to be evident of higher quality. My family uses Jarrow probiotics- they are widely reviewed as high-quality probiotics and they even made several options for kids! You can obtain Jarrow from most health-food stores or online- just make sure they will ship them cold!
Hand Washing- Wash your hands. All the time. Period. Wash them when you get home. Wash them after you go to the bathroom. Wash them before you eat. This is such a simple way to prevent illness! I read somewhere that your hands are dirtier than the inside of your mouth! That being said- I avoid touching my eyes, nose or mouth if I have not washed my hands.
Clean Eating + Greens– As the old adage goes, you are what you eat! Okay, so this one is pretty obvious. 75% of your immune system is in your gut! If you are eating well and getting all of the recommended daily vitamins and nutrients, your chances of getting sick go way down. Nutrient-rich food over processed food is going to have a profound impact on your overall health.
During the winter months I try to cram as much spinach down my family’s throats as possible. I put spinach in their smoothies, I serve spinach salad each night, and I like to finely chop spinach and hide it in various things like tomato sauce or lasagna. My kids- as most normal kids go- are not too keen on eating spinach. But when it is hidden in a smoothie or their favorite tomato sauce, they have no idea! Mom gets a point!
Here are some other immune boosting foods: yogurt (we eat this every day, no exceptions), oats & barley, garlic, bone broth, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, citrus, red bell peppers, broccoli, ginger, almonds, turmeric, green tea.
Apple Cider Vinegar– A quick internet search will give you several uses of apple cider vinegar- this stuff is liquid gold! My husband and I have two teaspoons per day and the kids have one teaspoon per day. You can mix it with water or juice, drink it like a shot, or mix it with honey (this method is preferred when you have a sore throat!). Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be a weight-loss tool as it boosts your metabolism; it also helps lower your blood sugar level, contains iron, calcium, and potassium, and helps keep germs in our bodies under control!
We take it to ward of ailments; ACV puts your stomach in an alkaline state and many viruses and bacteria have a tough time in a non-acidic stomach! My favorite brand is Bragg’s because they contain ‘the mother’- strands of enzymes and proteins and friendly bacterial. You can find Bragg’s at most grocery stores.
Essential Oils- I used to be a skeptic of this one. Now, I am so convinced of their immune-boosting capabilities that I sell oils for an awesome EO company (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in learning more!). Essential oils are naturally obtained by distillation of plants and other natural sources and have been used for thousands of years to heal naturally. You can use the oils aromatically, topically, or internally.
My family mainly diffuses germ-fighting oil blends during the winter and applies them topically to ward of ailments (soles of the feet and spine of the back). I personally use lavender daily as a calming agent through the winter. The oils have the added perk of always making your house smell great!
Exercise- It is hard to get your exercise in during the winter- but it is oh-so-important for keeping yourself healthy! Exercise improves your mood, boosts your energy and significantly strengthens your immune system. I make my kids go outside and run around for at least 30 minutes a day. If there is snow on the ground or it is bitterly cold (as it usually is in the deep winter months in Nebraska) I still make them go outside. They have hats, they have gloves, they have coats- they can handle the cold! Exercising even just 20 minutes per day has been shown to have dramatic health benefits and I notice that my kids sleep better when they have had a significant amount of outside time.
There you have it folks- a few simple ways to keep yourselves healthy during this Cold & Flu season!
Until next time,