Massage, Bodywork, Health and Fitness

How to Stay Healthy During Cold Season

Are you doing all you can to stay healthy this year?

I had a client tell me she wished she had my immune system. I stay very healthy but I work hard at it. I don’t get a flu shot so I use other methods to keep my body healthy and functioning best. When your immune system is strong even if you exposed to a virus your body has the capability to fight it off and you DON’T GET SICK! Every one of these techniques I practice religiously every day and so far so good I have been around people who are sick and have stayed healthy.

1. Cut out the sugar.
Every gram of sugar you ingest lowers your immune system for 3 hours. Just say no to the sweets and sugary drinks. Try substituting with fruits especially berries and citrus fruits high in Vitamin C. It is no coincidence that all the talk about the cold and flu season begins just around or after the holidays when we mostly overindulge in sweets and alcohol.
2. Prioritize sleep. 
I know the only time I am susceptible to getting sick is when I am over tired. I always shoot for plenty of sleep during the winter cold season.  Aim for 7 to 9 hours every night.  Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University had 153 healthy men and women track their sleep duration over a 14-day period.  Participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times more likely to get sick than those with 8 or more hours of sleep.
3. Get plenty of moderate exercise. 
Prolonged, intense exercise can actually weaken the immune system.  Starting training for your first marathon or other endurance event is not recommended during cold and flu season, as the immune system is put under considerable strain each time distance or duration is increased.  Research published in the Journal of Athletic Training reports “diminished neutrophil function in athletes during periods of intense and heavy training… and risk of upper respiratory tract infection is elevated.”
Studies also show that moderate, regular exercise has a strong beneficial effect on immune health.  Research on exact duration, frequency and intensity is lacking, but activities I recommend are: Walking, shorter sessions of running or elliptical and plenty of yoga,  Qi Gong or pilates.
4. Wash your hands frequently.
And don’t touch your eyes or nose unless you’ve just washed your hands.  Cold and flu viruses are more effectively passed through manual not aerosol transmission, and hand washing is the best way to prevent manual transmission.  Both alcohol-based hand sanitizers and soap and water work, but soap and water is the gold standard.  Research published in the journalClinical Infectious Diseases showed that soap and water removed more virus than three alcohol-based hand sanitizers, when hands were rubbed vigorously for 15 or more seconds under warm water.
5. Reduce stress. 
Psychological stress is clearly associated with an increased risk of acute infectious diseases.  Many factors in our lives make avoiding stress unrealistic.  Still, there are things we can all do to make fun, relaxation, and quality time with family and friends more of a priority in our lives.
6. Get a Massage.
Massage helps to circulate the lymphatic system and increase healthy lymphocytes, cells that help the immune system defend the body from harmful substances. And a massage always helps with number 5 reducing stress level. Visit our website to schedule a massage for your well being.
7. Eat plenty of healthy bacteria.
Take a probiotic supplement; or even better, eat naturally fermented foods daily.  My favorite is raw saurkraut which you can get in the refrigerator section of your natural health store or possibly farmers market.  Dr. Maydani, a researcher at Tufts University says, “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25% of the immune cells in the body that provide 50% of the body’s immune response. There are more than 400 species of bacteria residing in the gut, and they have symbiotic relationships with your body.”  It’s unclear exactly how these friendly bacteria support our immune system, but a number of studies have shown that use of probiotic supplements decrease frequency of acute respiratory illnesses.
8. Take Immune Boosting Supplements
My favorites are Garlic and Oil of Oregano both are anti-viral and anti-bacterial. You can eat raw garlic crushed or pressed just add to salad dressings or on top of your favorite vegetables. Or you can add one clove to a fresh made juice like this Good Morning Juice which will crush any cold or flu even thinking of sticking around.
Oil of oregano is best taken in capsule form and provides a big bang for your buck.
Or try this tea 1 Tbs grated ginger or a bag of ginger tea, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 -2 tsp honey in a cup of hot water.
9. Drink green tea.
If you’re not sensitive to caffeine, drink lots of green tea during the first half of the day.  Polyphenols, like EGCG, found in green tea have an extremely beneficial immune-modulating effect.  In addition to green tea’s many other health benefits, research shows that it has a specific anti-viral effect on the influenza virus.  Make sure to use high-quality tea like Yogi Tea Super Anti-Oxidant.  A study published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2007 analyzed close to 400 foods for their EGCG content.  They found that loose leaf, freshly brewed green tea had 180mg of EGCG.  Decaffeinated green tea had 60mg, flavored green tea had only 45mg, and bottled green tea had a mere 9mg of EGCG.
10. Eat your an Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
Add lots of immune-enhancing and inflammation-reducing foods to your meals.  Especially useful are all greens, shiitake mushrooms, oregano, basil, parsley and other culinary herbs; garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion, and cayenne pepper; cruciferous vegetables, and berries.  Make sure that every meal is loaded with as many of the above foods as possible. These foods will help your body become more alkaline it is much less likely that you will get sick at all when your body is at a slightly alkaline ph.
Try my Detox Soup for a great source of greens and vegetables and kinds of goodness, you can even make it extra spicy.
Here is a great info graphic with 10 strange ways to stay healthy
Massage Works Los Gatos brings massage therapy that does just that, it works, to help you get relief from chronic or acute pain as well as stress and strain. Our mission is to help active women and men incorporate massage and a healthy lifestyle into their lives to live with positive energy and vitality.

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