The shorter, colder days provide us with mental and physical challenges. There is less sun (at least in the mid-Atlantic region) with more grey; less time to comfortably be outdoors; and less desire to being physically active. And, to top it off, this winter season begins with two very food-filled holiday periods – Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukah.
So we eat more, are less active and need more natural light… great combination and one that can negatively impact our immune system. Less (and lower) sun means less conversion of vitamin D; less movement means a slower circulation of the lymph system. So what are some herbal, food or supplement options to get us through this time with better health? Here are my top 4.
Vitamin D – almost every adult, especially those of us in the NE are low on vitamin D. It is a vitamin that is sometimes added to processed foods such as dairy products, orange juice and cereals. It is also obtained through fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon), cheese, etc. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means it doesn’t dissolve in water and best absorbed when taken with a high- fat food.
If purchasing a supplement, please check the label for additives as the best option is the least processed option.
Vitamin C – also supports a healthy immune system. Some of the foods high in this vitamin include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, cabbage, Brussels sprouts. Although OJ is an often sought source when not feeling well, be aware of the added sugars contained in the juice. And, as with Vitamin D, if purchasing a supplement, please check the label for additives. C is a water soluble vitamin, dissolves in water. Please select the option with the least chemical additives.
Elderberry – another immune boosting option. Elderberry contains the following nutrients; vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, carotenoids, amino acids, and flavonoids. The juice is also very rich in certain essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and several anti-oxidants.
Raw Garlic – at the first sign of not feeling well, I go to my refrigerator and get a clove of garlic. It is a terrific antibacterial/antiviral food. However, in order to take advantage of the essential oils, it must be eaten raw. No easy task. Once the clove is sliced, I pair mine with either a slice of bread (garlic bread!) or a tsp of honey. I will do this 2-3 times a day. Please note that this is not an option for those on blood thinners as garlic also thins the blood.
During the winter months, I make a special effort to keep my exercise routine consistent as it also supports my immune system, I take to the outdoors when I can (even if bundled up) and, wash my hands a lot.
Wishing you a healthy finish to 2019 and health start to 2020.