By Carly Stein
“Winter” is often synonymous with “sick,” but it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re too busy to be stuck in bed with a nasty cold or flu. Here are a few tips on how to keep your immune system strong so you can sail through the season feeling great.
Bees use this dark, sticky, glue-like antimicrobial and antiviral substance to patch holes in their hive, securing the colony from the outside world. It protects the hive from invaders, and it can do the same thing for your immune system. Propolis has more than 300 beneficial compounds, so it’s no wonder it’s been used in folk medicine for thousands of years, and employed in cultures worldwide to prevent and/or relieve everything from cavities and dental ailments to stomach ulcers. It’s also used topically to help heal wounds and burns. High in antioxidants, propolis can help squash a sore throat and protect the body from whatever’s going around. Bonus: It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and can be used both for relief or preventatively to improve overall health.
2. MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS
Shiitake, maitake, reishi and chaga are magical mushrooms, but not in the way you’re thinking. Shiitakes can reduce inflammation and boost gut immunity; maitake may help fight cancer; reishi fight inflammation, infections and cancer; and chaga shore up the immune system when it’s compromised and backs off when it’s strong. Eat (or drink) them, or supplement with them as part of your immune support.
Much of your immune system is regulated by the friendly bacteria in your intestines. Taking a good quality probiotic supplement or eating plenty of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha will keep a healthy balance of gut bacteria and your immune system firing on all cylinders.
Lemon juice is high in vitamin C and helps to flush your kidneys and aid your digestive system, so that your body doesn’t have to work as hard. Lemons are also high in bioflavonoids, which can help kill free radicals. I start my day with warm water mixed with lemon juice and 5 sprays of propolis to boost my system and stimulate my organs.
5. STRESS MANAGEMENT
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but that’s because it is so important: Your immune system can’t function at full capacity when you’re under chronic stress. Luckily, there are a lot of effective ways to keep stress in check. Get plenty of sleep, try meditating, sweat it out in a workout—or mix it up and try different things on different days depending on what your body needs. I hack my stress with tools like yoga, adaptogens, chamomile tea with tryptophan-filled raw honey, and soothing essential oils. Find what works best for you and get your chill on for a stronger system.