Winter brings drops in temperature and more moisture in the air, which means our immune systems can become compromised and more susceptible to catching nasty cold and flu viruses.
Maintaining basic self-care like rest, stress reduction and proper nutrition can help keep your body in tip-top shape. Just a few additions to your diet this winter season, will keep you well enough to attend every holiday party.
Load up on Antioxidants
Vitamins A, C, E, and the B group make up the family of antioxidants, removing free radicals from the body that cause cellular damage, leaving it vulnerable to disease. All of them are available as supplements, but most of the time your body absorbs them better in their food form.
- Vitamin A: carrots, squash, apricots, collard greens, chili peppers, sweet potato
- Vitamin C: broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, apples, parsley
- Vitamin E: almonds, sunflower seeds, peaches, oils
- B Vitamins: nuts, whole grains, lentils, beans, broccoli, kale, spinach, chard, brewer’s yeast
Herbs and Superfoods as Preventative Medicine
Elderberries have been used for thousands of years by cultures all over the world; both to support the bodies immune system, and also for heart health, since they are high in antioxidants. In a recent study, elderberries reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.
Echinacea is also a flu fighting power-house. Sourced from coneflowers in Eastern and Central North America, echinacea has been shown in many studies to supercharge the immune system. Additional reported benefits include lowering blood pressure, helping anxiety management, controlling blood sugar, aiding healthy cell growth, as well as potentially reducing the risk of cancer. Try Echinacea tincture, extracts or capsules, or as a tea to maximize it’s anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant effects.
We love a combination of both Elderberry and Echinacea. Try Honey Gardens Elderberry Syrup, or Nature’s Way Sambucus Elderberry Immune syrup.
Spices such as turmeric, ginger, cloves and cinnamon are all anti-inflammatory, which is what you need for a congestion-free body. Studies have even shown that turmeric (thanks to the compound curcumin) has potent anti-inflammatory effects as powerful as over-the-counter drugs.
Make your own turmeric latte by warming a cup of your favorite non-dairy milk and whisking in ¼ tsp of turmeric powder with a pinch of ginger and clove. Add a dash of finely ground black pepper to aid absorption. Pour into your favorite mug, sweeten with some raw sugar or maple syrup and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
We also love Gaia Golden Milk mix, a delicious blend of turmeric, dates & herbs that can be mixed into any warm drink of your choice.
Garlic and Mushrooms
Tasty, everyday foods like garlic and mushrooms are great flu fighters that have been used to prevent and cure ailments since ancient times.
Garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties, contains antioxidants, vitamins C and B, as well as selenium which works with antioxidants as a booster. Be sure to crush or chop your garlic as it releases beneficial enzymes and gives better flavor to your dish.
When it comes to mushrooms, try broadening your horizons into the more medicinal varieties like reishi and chaga. Powders of both can be found at Wholefoods or online, and are delicious when added to your morning smoothie or combined with cacao and non-dairy milk for a delicious superfood hot chocolate drink.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Madison Eubanks is Holistic Wellness Practitioner and a graduate of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. Nutrition and Urban Farming are not only her areas of expertise, but her passion; she loves educating people on the healing powers of food and how they can allow it to “be thy medicine”. Madison also has certifications as a health and life coach and is a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher. She has been a dedicated vegan for over four years, believing it to be one of the best choices she has ever made: ‘there is no better diet that takes in consideration for human health, the environment and animal welfare’.