by Kari Erdman, M.S., CHHC Holistic Nutrition & Wellness Coach
So the holiday season—a time to gather with friends and family and eat lots of rich, sweet food—is well behind us now. And our January bodies are dealing with the repercussions just as flu season kicks in.
Time to call in your best winter-season friend and the great defender of your body: your immune system. Supporting your immune system throughout the winter months is your key to becoming cold and flu resistant. Germs thrive in dry climates like the Tetons, forcing us to be extra mindful of the preventative steps needed to stay healthy.
Here are some tips to experiment with this winter season:
1. Garlic oil in your ears.
According to Dr. John Douillard, Ayurvedic Health Educator, ear oil is a wonderful way to lube your sinuses and cervical lymph during the dry, cold season. To make the oil, place ten cloves (one to two bulbs) of garlic in a small saucepan on the stove with 1/2 cup of olive or sesame oil. Bring it to a simmer on medium low for 20 minutes, being careful to not let the garlic burn. The garlic will release its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties into the oil. Remove the pan from the stove and let cool. Take a small bottle with a dropper and, placing a funnel on top, pour the garlic oil into it, reserving the whole cloves. To use the oil, place a tissue or paper towel under your ear and lay on it. Take one dropperful of oil and release it into your ear, letting it drain in for one to two minutes. Switch sides. Do this once a day for maximum prevention.
2. Bathe in ginger.
Ginger is also an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal powerhouse. Putting ginger in soups, stir-fries, and smoothies is a fantastic way to reap its bennies. But you can also use it in your bath! To do this, bring a large pot, half-full of water, to a boil. Grate one cup of ginger with a cheese grater. Find a thin piece of fabric (an old t-shirt or towel) and stuff the grated ginger inside and secure it with a rubber band. Once the water is boiling, place the ginger compress in the water, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile, draw your bath, light a candle, and put on some gentle music. After 20 minutes, turn off the stove and pour the hot pot into your bath. Settle into the tub. Take the compress and gently massage it on your lymph nodes, starting with your neck, under your armpits, under the breasts, inside your ankle, and ending at your temples. *Caution—if the intensity of the ginger is too much for your face tissue, avoid it.
3. Breathe moisture-filled air.
Using a cool mist humidifier can help hydrate the air and keep germs at bay. Run it at night in your room, giving yourself a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep while breathing moisture-filled air.
4. Sleep—there is no way around it!
It can seem like the easiest thing to skimp on, but only at the expense of your weakened immune system. The winter season is designed by nature to encourage us to take more time to rest and recuperate from spring, summer, and fall. Get to bed early, and well before midnight, to establish each phase of your sleep cycle. This leaves you rested and restored. Try going to bed a couple nights a week at 9 p.m.
5. Love your veggies.
Adding more veggies to your day is a powerful way to support your immune system. Root vegetables (yams, beets, parsnips, and kohlrabi) are in abundance now. Simply sauté them with coconut oil and season with sea salt. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and kale) and leafy greens (Swiss chard, spring mix, collard greens, and cabbage) are a wonderful main entrée or side when steamed with some garlic. Eat your colors too, filling up at least half of your plate with colorful veggies.
Experiment with these tried-and-true winter immunity tips to enjoy a healthier winter season.
Do you have a favorite way to keep your family healthy this winter season? If so, share below!
Kari Erdman, M.S., CHHC, is a Holistic Nutrition & Wellness Coach, writer, speaker, yoga instructor and founder of Transforming You, LLC. She supports women in making transformational shifts in their health and life so they can live with greater energy, ease, confidence, and joy. She teaches a clean, whole foods diet, body awareness, and connecting women with their purpose, passions and joy through individual and group health transformation programs. Learn more at: www.karierdman.com.