I get asked all the time what I do to stay healthy in the winter when almost every patient walking through my door has caught the latest bug going around. So today I thought I'd share with you the foods and supplements I use on a regular basis to avoid getting sick.
YOU COULD BASICALLY CALL THIS MY IMMUNE-BOOSTING ARSENAL. BAM!
What I take on the daily:
There's very few supplements I take on a daily basis. I prefer to eat foods that naturally boost my immune system (lean protein, fruits and veggies, healthy fats) and avoid foods that I know act like kryptonite to my health (for me specifically, that's sugar).
Adding in superfoods daily like home-made bone broth (I like to sip it like tea), spirulina (I add it to my post-workout protein powder shake), and fermented foods (my faves are kombucha and sour pickles) help give my immune system the extra boost it needs during the winter months.
Living in Minnesota leaves me desperately craving sunshine and vitamin D during half the year, so I supplement with a higher dosage than the RDA (recommended daily allowance) and just get my levels checked yearly to make sure that I'm staying within a safe range.
Don't forget that the RDA amount of vitamins are enough to keep you surviving, not thriving. So, basically the RDA of vitamin D is enough to keep you from getting rickets, but not necessarily enough for have a sufficient vitamin D level in your blood. Make sure you check your levels with your doctor before you start on a higher vitamin D regiment.
As for a probiotic, I have a history of Crohn's disease so taking a probiotic is a non-negotiable for me. I know that years of steroid and immune-suppressing drugs took a toll on my microbiota and I'm doing all I can to build up my gut's defensive system again. After a not-so scientific study I accidentally performed on myself one time I was on antibiotics, I swore off all cheap probiotics stick to Therlac, Standard Process'Prosymbiotic, and Garden of Life's Raw Probiotic.
The thing about probiotics that most people don't realize, though, is that there are studies coming out by the dozens showing that probiotics are as helpful for your immune health as they are for your digestive health. Certain bacteria in the gut can even increase the number of certain types of white blood cells (T-cells for you health nerds).
The last thing I take daily though the winter is a mushroom defense blend. Now, I didn't start taking this because I had studied up on the most recent research or because mushrooms have a thousand year old history in Chinese herbal medicine. I basically was gifted a bottle one day and found that when I took them I felt freaking ah-mazing.
The first winter I took them daily was the first winter that I didn't even get so much as a sniffle through the entire cold and flu season. Now, I'm on my third winter taking them daily and I truly believe that they play a part as to why I haven't had a real knock-down-drag-out cold or flu in those three years.
What I take to pull up my defensive shield:
A couple weeks ago my guy came down with the flu. Yep, the chills, fever, achey, painful flu. Now, I was about three days away from a week-long business trip and the last thing I wanted or needed was to get sick. So, I pulled out the real ammo. The things I keep tucked away for when there's a legitimate threat.
First up, is my homemade fire cider. I've found that if I take a shot of this a few times a day (up to every hour on the hour if I'm actually coming down with something), I can usually keep the virus at bay. This spicy blend packs a punch and is chock full of anti-microbial plants that kick the immune system into action.
Next, I'll start taking some Congaplex as a preventative measure. This is one of my favorite whole-foods based supplements for fighting off bugs, but it can also be taken in smaller dosages as a preventative.
If I start to feel a tickle in the back of my throat (my own body's illness tell, if you will), that's when I'll make a batch of my honey daikon syrup and pull out my Chinese herbs.
I know that you probably want to know what Chinese herbs I take when I get sick, but guess what? I'm not going to tell you.
CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE IS INCREDIBLY INDIVIDUALIZED.
If you're going to take herbs, talk to a board-certified herbalist first. [Tweet this!]
One formula might be spot on for your cold, but totally off the mark for another person's.Do not go to the health food store and buy a bottle of Chinese herbs because your friend took them once and they helped him/her/them. Go seek out a professional herbalist and get a prescription that's custom tailored to your needs. Or come see me - I'll help.
So, there you go! I hope this little voyeuristic dip into my medicine cabinet is just what you needed to get through the rest of the season a little more healthy.
**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
***Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life - duh!