During my son’s physical last month, his doctor warned me to expect lots of viruses this year. While I’m not too worried about it, I’m definitely going on the offensive in the hopes that the only red nose over the next few months is Rudolph’s.
Disclaimer: This is what works for me (and my family) based on my years of study, research, personal experience, and access to integrative practitioners such as functional medicine doctors. You do you.
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This is first and foremost on my priority list when it comes to taking care of my immune system. Sleep comes before anything else: workouts, reading books, even my meditation practice. Of course, all those other things are important too, which is why I make sure to enforce a strict bedtime for the kids and me, complete with a relaxing night routine. As long as I’m getting around 8 hours of sleep every night, I can handle the occasional late night exception without it being an issue.
I won’t even tell you the amount I take, but let’s just say it’s a lot. If you live in a place that gets dark during this half of the year, you lose access to the best source of vitamin D3: the sun. The “sunshine” vitamin is critical to immune health, and it’s tough to get enough without supplementing. In fact, when I got Covid earlier this year, I took 2-3 times my usual dosage throughout my quarantine period. Otherwise, I didn’t change anything else about my routine.
Leafy greens (+ their plant friends)
Did you know that the gut is responsible for the majority of the immune system? This means a healthy gut gives me the greatest odds of staying healthy. I do a lot of things to keep my gut microbiome healthy, and it starts with eating a diet heavy in plants, especially leafy greens. By eating a mostly plant-based whole food diet, I also keep inflammation in my body low. Chronic inflammation is a major player when it comes to a weaker immune system. I avoid this by minimizing my intake of refined sugar, highly processed foods and low quality animal products.
I can’t say this enough: you can’t out-supplement an unhealthy diet. I take supplements because I live a modern lifestyle, which means unless I’m eating Sakara meals every single day (and alas, I am not), chances are I’m not getting enough variety of plant foods to meet my optimal needs. To make sure my gut microbiome is running optimally, I add in a probiotic twice a day. I take this one in the morning, and this one in the evening.
Moderation in all things
Including “healthy” things. It may be the cold and flu season, but it’s also the holiday season, and I do so love a holiday. Sure, sugar and alcohol aren’t doing my immune system any favors, but I will absolutely be face planting into the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and there’s a chance that come January, my hands will get stuck into the shape they make while holding a glass of red wine. But I’m most likely making the pumpkin pie myself using the best quality ingredients, and my wine is probably biodynamic or organic. Even still, these things aren’t happening every day or even every week. We are what we do most of the time, and I try to make the best choices I can throughout the next few months without sacrificing the joy of this time.
The 5 things I mentioned here aren’t a departure from my usual routine, but they are things I’m extra diligent about during a time when viruses are more prevalent. I could probably write a million more things (like concoctions of raw garlic and honey or what special herbs I take if I feel “off”), but I truly think my everyday habits are what lay the strongest foundation for my immune system.
Bottom line: The best way to avoid catching a virus is to make sure I’m not a good host for a virus. I choose a healthy lifestyle every single day, which also makes me less likely to spread viruses to those around me. By making our health a priority, we not only help ourselves but others as well. Spread love, not colds 😉