4 Simple Ways to Not Get Sick this Winter

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Wintertime causes a yearning in my soul to warm up by a cozy fire and finally slow down with a cup of organic dark hot chocolate. Are you feeling the same? There is a reason we feel this way…we’re meant to slow down in the winter. I love that nature works like this, innately causing us to change with the seasons. Have you ever noticed? The winter brings the desire for warmer foods, connection with loved ones, and more rest and relaxation. The critical part of this fascinating natural phenomenon is that we listen and oblige.

Another tendency is to feel our desire to workout slow down this season, which is also common. I want to share with you my top way to help keep a winter wellness routine. These work for me each year, and I hope you'll gain some ideas you can use, too!

My favorite Winter Wellness tips...

  1. Slow down

If your social calendar looks anything like mine, it's jam-packed this season. We just made it through all the holiday parties, and now it's time to catch up with those we didn't have time to see last month, and of course, celebrate the New Year. However, don’t feel obligated to attend every gathering you get invited to, particularly if you’re feeling burnt out from work and your other obligations. It’s great to meet new people and socialize, but if it causes you to get less sleep or it stresses you out, decline some of the less essential offers. Don’t burn the candle at both ends.

  1. Be conscious of social settings (and your workplace)

For the events you do attend, remember that cold and flu germs often lurk without symptoms at first. There’s no need to be paranoid about shaking hands or meeting people, but be mindful of your hands before you eat and don’t touch your nose, mouth or eyes after shaking hands with someone. Keeping your hands clean is the best way to avoid a winter illness.

  1. Keep exercising and practicing yoga

Your best battle against the winter blues is to keep moving your body through yoga and your workout routine. Finding it hard to stay motivated during the colder months? Switch things up. Try a new class at your gym or take on a new challenge that will help keep you motivated. Yoga is your best friend in the winter because you can roll out your mat at home anytime and practice. Yoga will also help you stay mindful of the foods you eat too.

  1. Water, water, water.

Getting enough fluids is essential on any day, but in winter the weather is drier and so is the heat indoors. Not only that, but your skin can become parched too. Drinking more water and applying more moisturizer is a must. Here’s a trick to keep you hydrated…drink warm water. It’s nicer for your digestive system and you're not trying to drink cold water on a cold day.

So, what's the norm for you? Do you try to stay on track during the winter months, or do you put things off until it starts to warm up outside? I make sure I stay on track with daily yoga and toning exercises. I like to drink warm water to warm me up form the inside and take time to reflect on where I am and where I desire to go. I want to feel good and refuse to let the cold month (and it’s been really cold this season in NYC) bring me down.

Be kind to yourself during the winter months and the rest of the year too!

Leave a comment below and share steps you take to stay healthy this season.

Winter Immune Boosters

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Winter is upon us! My hometown in the deep south just got blanketed with several inches of snow last week, which was a big surprise. It is always important to prepare for the winter weather…wood for the fireplace and flashlights for power loss. But even more important, we could all use a health boost to our immune systems. Holiday decorations are going up everywhere but so are cases of colds and the flu. If you don’t want that kind of gift that keeps on giving, focus on these immunity-boosting tips to keep healthy all season long.

Warm Up Inside Out with Veggie Broth

With the chilly weather getting even colder, the best thing to bring everyone to the table is warm, soul-soothing soup or stew. You can make this even more beneficial though by adding veggie broth to the mix. I know bone broth is the talk of the health industry but for a girl who will not eat animal products vegetable broth works just as well. (If you like bone broth please feel free to use it.)

Vegetable broth with mushrooms, kombu, ginger, sweet potatoes and any other veggie you like will help provide much need vitamins and minerals, which nourishes the entire body.

Ways you can use broth:

- In soups and stews

- As a standalone warm beverage

- In place of olive oil when cooking

Eat Fermented Foods

Recent research has provided us with a new astounding fact – your gut is home to a second brain. It may sound crazy, but it's true. The good news is that you can keep those beneficial bacteria that flourish there to keep you healthy thriving and strong. The best way to do this is to start developing a fondness for fermented foods. Things like kimchi, the popular Korean side dish served with every meal, as well as sauerkraut, kombucha, or even pickles, to name a few.

Fermented foods list:

-Kombucha

-Sauerkraut

-Kimchi

-Miso

-Pickles

-Coconut kefir

Make Room for Mushrooms

The kids might not be happy about this, but mushrooms have beta glucans in them, which help strengthen your immunity and block infections. You can eat whatever mushrooms you enjoy for this effect. Put them in your soups, add them to your mixed veggies, top your salad with them raw or cooked, chop them up and include them in just about anything. If you are like me and not a mushroom lover, I find chopping them up very small and adding into casseroles is a great way to get mushrooms in to non-mushroom lovers.

Stuffed mushroom recipe: Clean and de-stem mushrooms. Sprinkle olive oil inside mushrooms before stuffing. Stuff with your favorite ingredients — between 2-3 ingredients. Tomato, onion and an herb is always a great combination. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt and pepper. Cook at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Other delicious foods you can add to your diet are ginger, garlic, turmeric and the superfood spinach.

Get Some Sunshine

Most people don’t get enough vitamin D in their lives. It might be cold out, but grab your warmest coat and let your face get some sun. Committing to a ten-minute walk each day makes a load of difference throughout the winter months. I take my dog, Taz, out for a walk and make sure we are facing the sun. It warms us as and we get some vitamin D on our face as we look for squirrels. To supplement, there are certain foods you can eat. Cook up fatty fish like salmon or serve more eggs, particularly the yolks. These have robust sources of vitamin D and for strict vegans, you can supplement.

Get Outdoors

Even though it’s freezing out, there are some fun activities you can enjoy this season that doubles as exercise. Activities such as ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, walking your dog, and even build a snowman.

Get More Rest

Maybe those hibernating bears are on to something. When your immunity is wearing down, one of the best things your body needs is to simply rest. It’s during the state of rest that your white blood cells work their magic, so take a load off and get in that nap or go to bed earlier every night. Take care of your health now because if you don’t build up your immunity, chances are you’ll come down with something right before that big party you’ve been looking forward to all season. Stay healthy!

Tips for great sleep:

- Get into the routine of a relaxing bedtime ritual such as reading a book, a self-massage, breathing exercise or even the yoga posture child’s pose.

- Use blackout curtains to block any streetlights beaming in your windows. I’m sensitive and wake up easily so the darker the room the better. Some people need blackout curtains to make sure they get their 8 hours.

- Go screen-free an hour or two before you crawl into bed. I know this can be hard but make it part of your bedtime ritual. The blue light from the TV and devices disturb your sleep hormone, melatonin.

Your immune system is tough and can fight off any nasty winter bugs if you take care of it. Stay strong and well this season.

Don’t get sick this winter with these helpful tips

For many, winter is a refreshing time of year that they enthusiastically wait for including me. The cold and crisp temperatures, the beautiful blankets of snow covering the earth, the festivities with family and friends, and the anticipation of a brand new year right around the corner is all so exciting. Unfortunately, along with all of these great things, colds and the flu are also rampant. You might feel yourself surrounded by people coughing and sneezing. It can often feel like germs surround you anywhere you go this time of year, but by boosting your immune system, you'll be less susceptible to catching those colds.

Here are a few of my favorite and natural ways to boost my immune system during the colder months...

 

Rest and relax. Winter is a time to reflect. During wintertime, the days are shorter and there is more darkness for a good reason, so we can reflect and take time to restore our energy for the bounty of spring. When we ignore nature’s queues to slow down, it’s easy to get run down emotionally and physically. Take time to relax, watch a movie, read a novel, get lost in a hobby or sip on some delicious tea or hot chocolate. It’s good for your body but wonderful for your soul.

Eat whole and local. Yes, I know I sound like a broken record when I keep writing about eating whole foods, especially locally- sourced, but this practice is best for maximum nutrients, flavor, and freshness. For big flavors that boost immunity, make sure you cook with immunity-strengthening items like garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Eating plant-based whole foods diet can be healing to the body.

Vitamins C and D to the rescue. Popping a vitamin is not my first choice and you can get ample supplies of vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark green vegetables, and berries. They’re all excellent sources of vitamin C. Even with the cold weather the sun still offers vitamin D and it's important to get outside in the sun for a few minutes each day, preferably in the morning when the sun will put to sleep your melatonin and raise your serotonin levels making you feel good. A short sunbath on your face is a great way to get the vitamin D your body needs. Plus, a few minutes of fresh air always boosts your mood and energy levels!

Stay hydrated. Have you ever found yourself not drinking water in the winter because you’re too cold? I have and found myself completely dehydrated. When our bodies are dehydrated, it’s much easier for us to become susceptible to illnesses and your skin gets drier making your look older. You can always add a wedge of lemon to give it more flavor, plus you’ll get more vitamin C -- a win-win. If water isn’t the answer for you then boil some water, put in a thermos with your favorite caffeine free tea and you have warm tea all day.

Lie down and get some sleep. In a society that tends to run themselves ragged, take the time to get your rest and rejuvenate. You’ll be less likely to get sick if you sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, even if you come into contact with the people that are battling an illness. Sweet dreams!

Stay active. Exercise is one of the best ways to benefit your body overall, but it also helps keep your immune system strong. Even if you only have time for a 10-minute walk after lunch, take it. It will help your body fight off illness. Yoga, restorative yoga, Tai Chi, HIIT, weightlifting or just brisk walks in the park are all brilliant ways to get moving.

Reduce your chances of being bed-ridden by being proactive about your health right now! No one likes getting sick but with the ideas above, you’re on your way to a healthy winter.

4 Best Foods To Fight Spring Colds

aromatic-84691_1920 2 Spring is a time for love, flower blossoms and…the common cold. Not too sexy, is it?

We’ve all experienced spring colds at some point, and undoubtedly, we will cross paths with one again on our journey. It seems like an inevitable part of life - especially if you work with kids, have little ones in the house, work in a large office, or you take the subway. Germs are everywhere, and without the ability to see them lingering, we can’t always avoid them.

Even though we can’t fully evade germs, nor should we, there are many simple, natural things we can do to prevent the nasty germs from winning the fight against our immune system - and even shorten the lifespan of the cold if and when we do happen to get sick. You don’t even have to leave the kitchen to find a slew of helpful immune boosters.

My favorite foods that can help combat an illness and boost the immune system are…

  1.  Garlic Keeps the Vampires…and Colds Away- If you can stomach raw garlic, this is the best option. Adding it into tea is another option, if you enjoy the taste. If you’re not a big fan of garlic and you’re staring at your screen in horror at the thought of eating raw garlic… have no fear. Just cook with it as much as possible when you’re feeling a cold coming on, or you are currently battling one. Toss in several cloves during each meal and enjoy the benefits.
  1.  Take Your Probiotics- we’re programmed to hear the word bacteria and think it’s a bad thing, but good bacteria exists and your body needs it. Probiotics provide your body with the good bacteria it needs to function optimally. You can take probiotics as a liquid supplement, capsule, or you can enjoy the probiotic properties of fermented foods such as sauerkraut Kimchi and kombucha.
  1.  Cloves Aren’t Just For Gingerbread- it doesn’t have to be the holiday season for you to break out the cloves. Cloves have incredible properties that help the body fight against germs, alleviate pain and even helps with loosening the phlegm that you may be battling with a cold. Ground clove added in oatmeal is fabulous. I also love brushing my teethe with therapeutic grade clove essential oil
  1.  Spice It Up With Cayenne- this is another simple option that you can sprinkle on any meal. Adding that pop of spice can help decrease the mucus buildup and assist with easing your sore throat and congestion. Adding fresh lemon and cayenne into boiling water as a homemade tea packs a punch against that cold you’re battling. Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which only helps boost the immune system response.

There are many more natural ways to boost your immune system, but starting with a few will help you have other options in battling your next cold. Make a note of these foods and remember them next time you feel a cold coming on.

What are your favorite natural ways to fight an illness off? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear any tricks you may have!