The other night, I was walking down Pearl street here in downtown Boulder after a yummy birthday dinner for my son (Happy Birthday Ari!!), and I found myself shivery cold as we walked back to our car. This week the weather really shifted here in Colorado. There has been gusting wind, snow, and some super chilly nights.
The seasonal transition towards winter is surely before us (if you are in the northern hemisphere that is) and with that comes a big shift for the body and our delicate (yet resilient) immune systems.
Synching up with the season is a safe status to secure.
With the holidays right around the corner AND the weather changing, a little extra self care could be just what you need to stay strong, vital and in good shape for the weeks to come.
We have the remarkable capability to heal ourselves. The winter dry climate presents us many challenges in keeping our immune system strong, therefore is important to make choices in the way of health to give ourselves the chance to thrive through every season especially winter.
The body is a wise immunity warrior.
Building our immunity or Protective Qi, wards off either diseases from viruses and weather influences. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine teachings, protective qi is derived from essential substances in food and inhaled air quality.
Here are a few tips for a successful immune system as the seasons change.
- Synch UP: Take the time to prepare whole foods seasonal foods, rich in all the essential nutrients to give yourself a strong foundation that will benefit you for every season.
Highly refined foods lack most minerals, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and much of the protein required for proper immune function. Avoid refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, pasteurized dairy products, white sugar, and meats containing nitrates and replace with seasonal whole foods high in protein, natural fat, that are perfectly matched for the season’s health challenges.
Stick to a diet high in whole foods such as organic veggies and fruits, natural meats and fish, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. Eating in tune with the seasons will naturally tune your body to the seasonal challenges and strengthen accordingly.
- Oil Up: Omega-3 oils are a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega three oils in the form of either DHA/EPA, which are available in cold- water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardine; or alpha-linoliec acid, which is the fatty acid found in certain plants, such as flax seed, pumpkin seed, soy bean products and walnuts. They are some of the “good” fat that is necessary for healthy development and immunity. For many, a nutritional supplement may be the best option. Not only do we need omega-3 three oils, but also the essential vitamins and mineral for their absorption. Fresh vegetables, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds come rich in these vitamins B6, A, E as well as minerals magnesium, zinc, copper, and selenium.
A Study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AUG 2002) recommends the use of Omega-3 oils therapeutically for activating immune response. . EFA’s also give the added insulation that keeps the tissues moist, the nervous system strong and the body full of energy and insulation.
- Herb UP: Another study published spring of 2004 in the Journal of Internal Medical Research indicating black Elderberry extract (sambucus nigra L.) reduces flu symptoms and shortens the duration by more than 50%. Due to the challenge of the increasing flu risk in that we have experienced nation wide, this may be one of the keys to staying healthy through the winter.
- Tune UP: The benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese herbs are priceless when it comes to building immunity. They have the incredible ability to be adaptogenic, which will either tonify or strengthen the system. They treat the individual not just the symptom and have a very efficacious quality that works quickly and effectively.
This is similar with other ancient medicines such as homeopathic medicine and ayurvedic medicine. Find out who your local practitioners are and lean on them during these times when our immune systems are challenged.
- Warm UP: Lastly, remember the harsh weather conditions are a challenge to the system. The Chinese believe that all the major pathogens enter the body born on wind. The line of points across the back of the neck is the weak spot known as the wind gate. Covering this area in times of harsh weather, such as wind and cold will help to prevent illness. Wearing turtlenecks, scarves and many warm layers made of natural fibers is not just and old wives tale. “Dress for the season not the day” is a well-known approach to keeping your body warm, and strong.
We have at our fingertips so many of nature’s gifts that work well in our bodies to protect, and strengthen.
Nature’s pharmacy and menu is endless.
Connecting back to the basics, the simplicity, and the wisdom that our own planet has to offer is truly a beautiful path to overall health, vitality, and immunity.
Keep cozy and stay healthy.