Nothing can put a damper on winter fun like a cold or flu. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from the onslaught of sniffles, sneezes, coughs, and fever:
Practice yoga asanas: Yoga asanas are a powerful tool to help your body evade cold and flu viruses. Practicing asanas helps move lymph, an important part of the immune system, through the body. Yoga asanas and yoga breathing also greatly reduce stress—preserving your body’s ability to focus on fighting viruses and germs rather than having to cope with other stressors. Yoga asanas revitalize the internal organs, boosting your overall vitality.
Boost your immune system with regular exercise: People who exercise regularly typically get sick less frequently than those who don’t exercise at all, and when they do get sick, they spend fewer days under the weather. Try to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or dancing. Find something you enjoy so that you’ll do it regularly. Combine this with yoga asanas to strengthen, tone, stretch, and relax. Regular exercise increases oxygen and circulation, allows the body to release toxins more efficiently, and reduces stress hormones—all of which support good immunity.
Get regular rest: Sleep is when the body repairs and rejuvenates, and there is no substitute for it. Even one night of sleep deprivation has been shown to slow down vital immune function. Adults should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, and children should get between 9 and 11 hours. It’s also important to have a regular sleeping schedule, going to sleep and waking up at about the same time every day. A regular sleep schedule can encourage routine in other areas too, like exercise, meals, relaxation, and family time—all important for good health and well-being.
Make colorful meals: You don’t need a science degree to know which foods are needed for good health—just follow the rainbow! Mother Nature has made it easy for us to eat well by providing a wide variety of fresh, vibrant, and colorful fruits and vegetables. All those different colors come from a variety of beneficial phytochemicals that boost the immune system, neutralize free radicals, slow aging, and improve mood and memory. Try to eat fruits and vegetables that are local and in season since they are usually the freshest and therefore the most nutritious.
Power up with probiotics: Probiotics, or friendly bacteria, have been proven to have a profound range of health benefits. In fact, they are one of the first lines of defense for the immune system. Having plenty of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract helps ward off harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi and can also help improve digestion. Probiotics are found in unpasteurized cultured foods, such as raw sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kim chee. High-quality probiotic supplements can also be helpful.
Drink fresh juice: The nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy immune system, and if you can’t get enough in your diet, fresh juices can fill those gaps. Whether you want to prevent the sniffles or need to get well fast, juicing can help provide the antioxidants, enzymes, phytochemicals, and vitamins and minerals your body needs. Try different combinations of fruits and vegetables, especially those with deep color, like carrots, kale, parsley, and beets; add a little apple or pineapple for sweetness. Lemon, ginger, and dark leafy greens are particularly helpful when you’re feeling under the weather. Share the juice-making process with your children (guarding little hands from the juicer mechanisms, of course!)—they’ll love seeing the juice come out and tasting their delicious creations!