Don't Just Survive This Winter... THRIVE!Nov 30, 2021 08:00PM ● By Chelsea Kazmierczak-Goethel
The transition from fall to winter is well underway. This time of year often comes with sniffles, added stress, and many unknowns. Even though the season is dubbed “cold and flu season,” it is more than possible to not only survive but to thrive, all winter long. This is thanks to the immune system.
As colder weather sets in, the strength and resiliency of the immune system is more important than ever. This system is designed to detect and fight off infection, recognize and neutralize harmful environmental toxins, and distinguish self from non-self, keeping the host protected. Though this complex system seems like a mystery, there are many ways we can care for and nourish it.
One of the main aspects of health one has control over during any season of life is what they put into their body. The diet should be the first place to look when the goal is strengthening the body’s natural defense system. Following a few simple dietary suggestions can help ensure a healthy and happy winter free from the limitations of ill health.
First, do not forget the old adage “eat the rainbow.” The goal is to consume a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, totaling five-six cups per day. Roast or sauté them, add them to soups, mix them in a smoothie, or eat them raw. Vegetables can be chopped and prepared on Sunday so they’re ready to go into stir-fries or salads all week long.
Start with greens - we all know they’re good for us. Specific to this season, reach for brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, leeks, celery, cabbage, and kiwifruit. Next, reach for red and orange foods. This does not mean cheese-flavored chips or crackers. Current in-season options include carrots, beets, winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti), clementine, grapefruit, and lemons.
Fill each plate with these foods to ensure adequate consumption of vitamins A, C and K, antioxidants, zinc, calcium, and many other nutrients required by the immune system. An added benefit of meeting the daily vegetable and fruit goal is the intake of prebiotics. These compounds are responsible for feeding the good bugs in the gut (microbiome) which help keep the immune system strong and functioning properly.
Next, do not forget protein. Go for grass-fed meat, wild-caught fatty fish, pasture-raised eggs, nuts, and seeds. Consuming adequate protein ensures the body can produce the antibodies that attack invaders. This food group is also essential for repairing any tissue damage that does occur.
In addition to following these dietary guidelines, there are two more tips to help keep the protective immune system functioning optimally. First, limit intake of inflammatory food, especially sugar. It’s known to slow the response time of the immune systems when pathogens (bad bugs) do get in.
Finally, practice stress reduction, even during this busy season. Stress down-regulates immune function. Build in daily stress management habits such as deep breathing, meditation, journaling, or a gratitude practice.
Chelsea Kazmierczak-Goethel is a holistic practitioner at MetroEast Natural Healing Center in Oakdale, where they help you reach the health you desire, naturally. She is advanced clinically trained in Nutrition Response Testing, holds a bachelor's degree in Human Physiology, and is currently completing her Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition. Her own health issues brought her into the natural healthcare world, but the return of joy and optimum health to her patients happily fuels her every day. Chelsea is grateful to have been a part of the healing journey of so many patients over the past four years. For more information, visit NutritionChiropractic.com.
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