You know when you’re sick and you think to yourself… wow what does it even feel like to feel well again…
We come to appreciate the idea of not being sick sometimes too late as we are elbows deep in a tissue box and can’t taste or smell the soup we are forcing down. Being sick sucks, plain and simple. So is it really possible to be the only one at your job who doesn’t catch the feverish cold going around? Is it possible to be without sniffles while your whole subway cart is an orchestra of blowing noses? It is, my friends, and it takes time and effort but it truly is possible to stay well during this stuffy, cold winter.
I am going to share with you 5 ways I personally have boosted my immunity and stayed without sickness for the past whole year. About a year ago, for the first time in my life, I started caring about my immune system and working to make it stronger. Of course, everybody is different, but these are my general guidelines that whether or not they keep you well forever, will definitely have you feeling better. On top of these practices, eating a plant-based diet is also key–especially staying dairy-free since dairy can cause a lot of dampness in the body which can contribute to mucus and colds according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
5 Immunity Practices for Staying Well through Winter
1. Mushrooms. This is my number 1 for good reason. It’s a weird idea to grasp that mushrooms have the power to boost your immunity like crazy, but its true. They are powerful. However, not all mushrooms are made the same, and while some can easily be found on store shelves, like cremini or white button mushrooms, these are not the ones I am talking about here. Mushrooms like reishi, chaga, shiitake, maitake, Lion’s Mane, enoki, and cordyceps are the stars of this immunity show and have great medicinal properties and contain immunity-boosting substances. Most of these can be found in pill or tincture form and some can be added (like shiitake and enoki) to soups and stews.
My current personal mushroom routine: I use shiitake mushroom in all my vegetable broths, stir-frys and soups as much as possible. Also, every day or every other day I take 2-3 squirts of a Reishi tincture from Dragon Herbs.
2. Tea. Warming, soothing, immunity-boosting tea can be your new winter routine that keeps you well this season. Choosing immunity-boosting tea over a raw cold juice can really be helpful in the cold months. Raw, cold juices, although nutrient-packed, can create coldness in the body and blood sugar waves, creating more havoc on your insides especially if you are trying to fight a sickness off. I suggest raw cold juices when it starts getting a little warmer out. For the winter, teas like ginger, echinacea, elderberry, even mushroom teas can be just what your immune system needs to stay well and warm. By adding spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne, you can create a perfect mucus busting concoction!
My personal favorite: lemon, ginger (extra ginger!) and echinacea tea with a pinch of cayenne.
3. Essential Oil Diffusion. Clean your air! Before realizing the other benefits of essential oils, I would just use them for smelling good, or in body products. (Please consult an aromatherapy manual for proper dilutions if using on skin). However, diffusing 100% pure essential oils in a proper aromatherapy oil diffuser has amazing air purifying qualities (do not diffuse around animals, children, or pregnant women before consulting with an aromatherapist). Oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, frankincense and rosemary all have powerful anti-microbial/ air-purifying benefits. If someone in your household is sick, diffusing tea tree and eucalyptus can help fight virus in the air, keep your respiratory system open and not congested and your room smelling calm and relaxing. These oils enhance your immune system and can help fight off sickness if it does occur!
My favorite fresh air blend: 3 drops Eucalyptus, 3 drops Tea tree, 3 drops Rosemary.
4. Soups, stews & probiotic foods. Consuming hearty, warming soups and stews as your main food focus of the winter will make your body really happy. In TCM, soups and stews during cold months are a key to staying well! You can use immunity-boosting mushrooms and miso (a great probiotic food!) added to your soups to keep your immune system running at an exceptional level! We all know by now that gut health and immunity go hand in hand; therefore, making sure we consume probiotic-rich foods is a big component of preventing illness. Small amounts of kombucha (not too much because it is cold!), fermented/cultured veggies (sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.), miso (as mentioned before), tempeh, coconut yogurt, apple cider vinegar, etc., can go a long way for your gut health. Enhancing your gut using natural probiotic foods and drinks is an amazing thing not only to stay well through winter but to also achieve optimal health in general.
My probiotic routine: 4oz kombucha 3-4x a week, 2 tsp ACV in water every other morning (with my reishi squirts), fermented beets, coconut yogurt or miso at least once a week. Check out my probiotic miso hummus.
5. Exercise. Detoxing your body through sweating is like giving your immune system a big hug. A consistent exercise routine will give you better mental focus and a stronger immune system capable of fighting off air-borne viruses. When we exercise, our blood starts moving at a more rapid pace, giving a boost to your white blood cells that can be attacking harmful bacteria that enters your body. It is vital, however, not to outdo ourselves. Excessive exercise can actually hurt our immune systems by weakening our body through exhaustion. So exercise with love and intention! Create a weekly routine that suits your lifestyle, giving you more energy rather than exhausting it all. Don’t forget to rest!
My exercise routine: yoga 30 mins 3-5x a week, 1hr Zumba 2-3x a week, 20 min strength training 1-2x a week.
So there you have it! This is truly what I practice and it has kept me well ever since I started incorporating it all. I hope it can help you too :-). Let me know if you have any questions about these practices down in the comments below!
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