Nobody likes getting sick. And with the holiday season upon us, it’s the time of year that will most likely challenge your immune system. So Veronica “V” Wheat, aka Chef V, has some tips to increase your chances of staying healthy this flu season…
You shouldn’t succumb to the fear-mongering that the media is hyping over this year’s flu season. Sure, it’s true that more people will get the flu this year in comparison to the last couple of years now that most people have gone back to resuming a normal life. Still, there are some relatively simple ways you can support your immune system this time of year.
Zero Added Sugar Diet
If you’re a Chef V follower, the advice to minimize or, better yet, completely ditch added sugars probably sounds like a broken record. But when we talk about the negative effects of sugar, it usually pertains to how it expands our waistline and spikes our blood sugar levels and leads to energy crashes and moodiness.
But when it comes to the cold and flu season, one of the biggest influencers on your immune system is your sugar intake.
Now, it’s one thing if you’re eating ice cream and other sweet treats in the summer. Of course, you can get sick in the summer, too. But most people can offset the increase in sugar consumption because they are getting outside more often for exercise. And even just spending time outside without breaking a sweat has positive effects on the immune system, research shows.
But in the colder months, we don’t get outside nearly as much and we’re breathing stale air. So we’re spending more time indoors. Add to that the temptation of sweet treats at holiday parties and it’s easy to see why many people’s immune systems get overwhelmed this time of year.
That’s why it’s so important to snack on healthy, zero-added-sugar treats this time of year. Because as a recent research study shows, “a high amount of glucose [sugar] may lead to impaired function of the immune system and pathological conditions.”
Researchers explain that when you eat a lot of sugar, your body produces excessive amounts of proteins (cytokines) that trigger inflammation. More inflammation in the body increases your chances of getting sick.
This is why it’s super important to keep your added sugars to as close to zero as possible. So instead of sweetening your tea or coffee with any kind of sugar (even if it’s organic cane sugar, it’s still sugar), use stevia or monk fruit extract. And if you love baking this time of year, you can also use sugar alcohols like xylitol. They may cause bloating in some people with sensitive GI systems.
Vitamin D & Vitamin K
This time of year, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are too weak for your skin to make vitamin D3. (Not to mention that when it’s cold out, you don’t expose that much skin.) This is one thing I don’t have to worry about as much because I live in San Diego, which is far south enough for vitamin D synthesis.
Yet, just to be on the safe side, I take a vitamin D3 supplement. After all, it can get chilly in San Diego this time of year. And it’s super important to mention that not just any vitamin D supplement will do. The one I take also has vitamin K, which helps vitamin D absorption and helps guide calcium into the bones instead of where it doesn’t belong like the arteries.
It is important to get outside, – you get a double positive. Getting outside is both a natural source of Vitamin D and a way to keep up a healthy exercise routine. Walking, skiing, or even pushups in the snow – there's an exercise for everyone.
This tip applies to anytime during the year, but it’s never more vital than right now. In order to satisfy your appetite and get vital nutrients to support your immune system, start eating more stews and soups. Now’s also the time to start eating lots of antioxidant-rich veggies like winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and roasted beets.
And there’s no easier way to get your daily dose of immune-supporting green, leafy veggies than with a Chef V Organic Green Drink plan.
Finally, don’t forget to get plenty of sleep, stay active and keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum at holiday parties.
Stay healthy, friend!