I want to first of all wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. With this being the holidays, which seems to be synonymous with the “Cold & Flu Season,” it’s important to stay healthy so you can enjoy all your friends and family who may be visiting from out of town or the trips you are taking to visit them. Like many of you, I’m always trying to maximize my time and get the most out of life. One thing I’ve found that helps me tremendously in maximizing my time and being more efficient is making sure I stay on top of my health. The best way I’ve found to do that is to follow five simple steps that I’ve detailed below.
Five Super Simple Prevention Tips
- Limit your intake of processed sugars and foods. Excess sugar suppresses your immune system and impairs your body’s natural defenses against dis-ease. If you’re already sick, completely stay away from preservative-heavy foods, canned foods, foods containing corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, cakes, pies, candies, and even grains. It’s no wonder we get sick during this time of the year with all the junk we’re consuming. Grains will turn to sugar once broken down in your body and a high level of grains can be just as harmful as processed sugar. Even fruits high in fructose may be a good idea to limit or avoid during the “Cold & Flu Season.” Click this chart to see which fruits contain high amounts of fructose. Okay, so maybe this first tip isn’t so simple, but it’s the most important one in my opinion.
- Eat natural, vibrant, whole foods full of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay strong and healthy. With all my patients, I stress the importance of eating plenty of dark, leafy-green vegetables as well as other colorful vegetables. These are where you will get most of your immune boosting power from your food. If you have trouble getting the necessary amount of vegetables into your daily meals then I strongly recommend introducing a nutrient-rich greens supplement into your diet, like Dr. Foster’s Essential Nutrients. This way you’re getting most of the benefits. It’s also very important to prepare your own food as much as possible. I strongly believe in the power of intention and the impact it has on our health. When you prepare your own food you know the amount of time, care, love, and energy that went in to making that meal. And when you then consume that meal you consume all of those positive intentions. So it’s also important to mention the importance of cooking with a positive and loving frame of mind.
- Regular exercise – whether that’s going to the gym, doing yoga, walking, jogging, tai chi, or martial arts, your exercise needs to be consistent if you want to reap the health benefits for your immune system. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the Lung organ system is the primary organ regulating our immune system and guarding against exterior pathogens. With regular exercise you’re keeping your Lungs in shape by increasing the demand of their performance. This in turn keeps them healthy as well as your immune system strong. As most of you know, you are working out the other organ systems at the same time, providing the body a great opportunity to work through its detoxification process. The sweat that is released through your pores carries with it the impurities in your body as well as possible exterior pathogens trying to invade. The Lungs in TCM also govern the water passages of the body and the pores of the skin. So again, your work out is a great opportunity to help your immune system stay healthy.
- Plenty of sleep. Aim for continuous uninterrupted sleep of at least 7 hours and getting to bed by 11pm (midnight at the latest), so your circadian rhythm (internal clock) can regulate itself. According to TCM as well as modern Western medicine, sleep is vital in maintaining optimal health. You can eat right, exercise, take your vitamins and supplements, and do all sorts of healing modalities but if you are not sleeping enough hours or sleep quality is poor, then it’s all for naught. I can’t stress enough how important sleep is to keeping yourself healthy. So, whatever you can do to make sure you sleep enough, do it.
- Regular acupuncture treatments and herbs – acupuncture aids in keeping your immune system “tuned up”, that is to say functioning at peak performance to fight off foreign invaders and dis-ease. Regular sessions with your acupuncturist essentially tie together everything I’ve discussed here and help keep you on the path of optimal health. Herbs or herbal remedies work to take what the acupuncture has done in a session and augment the beneficial effects to ensure they persist through the days following your session. When I say “Regular Sessions” I’m speaking about monthly visits where the main focus is on preventative medicine. You and your practitioner work at making adjustments in your life based on what’s presented at that time so you can stay balanced and healthy or nip a cold or flu in the bud before it gets worse. At this time, herbs that help prevent disease, often referred to as tonics (nourishing formulas that keep the body’s organ systems running at peak performance), may be prescribed.
In closing, if you can stay on top of these five simple tips you’ll be on your way to keeping those nasty cold and flu bugs at bay and dancing well into the wee hours of New Year’s Eve. I guess that can be the one night you go to bed after midnight 😉
Here’s to your health and happiness this holiday season.