• Healthy Habits for Strong Immunity

    photograph of ashley wittig by jessica blaine smith

     

    I’m gonna preface this with a big ol’, “I’m not a professional!” moment here, just an avid fan of not being sick. I think that being healthy is subjective, and that the goal, for me at least, is living well for as long as possible. These are my tips that work for me, but I will also openly brag that I have only had a knockout flu once in my adult life, with maybe a cold a year peppered in for good measure. I feel like a robust person, but I also don’t live in a household with children, which I think kind of throws everything out the window.

    The idea is that these are not just things to do during "cold and flu season", but as a lifestyle all year round. If, like me, long term health is your goal, it's a lifetime of happy habits, not just as a reaction to feeling rundown. This is your offensive playbook (is that football?). 

    So please, take what speaks to you, and leave what doesn’t!

    Sleep

    The cornerstone of health is sleep. Try to find how much time you need to more or less wake up without your alarm and see if you can go to bed early enough to achieve this in the morning. If not, as close to as possible. Sleep is how your body repairs tissue and your brain gets to clean itself up a bit, removing the junk and clutter that isn’t necessary (and also excellent for long term brain health. Maybe the most important!). If you feel like you’re getting sick, or you’re already sick, make the time to sleep. Over everything else, sleep sleep sleep.

    Exercise

    Adding any type of movement into your life is going to make a great difference. Ever tried walking? Incredible. Anything that gets the blood moving through your body is going to make a difference because it will more quickly sweep out any germs you may be fighting. Oh, and the glorious lymphatic system! Like a river flowing right beneath your skin. Lymph carries white blood cells throughout the body to help attack infection. Your lymphatic system is a vital part of your immune system, and the best way to give it a boost is to MOVE. Want to give it a major boost? Try anything bouncy! Take a Get High class at Misfit (or find a trampoline and go jump it out!)

    HOWEVER, if you are already sick, skip it. Have a nap instead, there are no benefits to exercising when you’re sick and if it’s a group setting, you may just make those around you sick which is a major bummer. If you like the idea of "sweating it out", have a hot bath. 

    Bathing Beauty

    Maybe my favourite section of all the tips, the way that you care for your skin plays a big role in staying healthy too. If you can, avoid products that are anti-bacterial, or heavily scented with synthetic fragrances. These things can disrupt your whole microbiome, and throw your body right out of whack. Remember that anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream, so if you don’t want it inside, don’t put it outside. 

    Our microbiome hosts a community of good bacteria on our skin that, ideally, would work in harmony with us to keep us healthy and thriving!

    So, dry-brushing is a great habit to get into before showering (helps to keep that lymphatic fluid flowing) and exfoliates off dead and dry skin cells. The next is a bit controversial, but, it may be sufficient to just wash under your arms and between your legs when you have a shower. Are you really getting so filthy that you need to lather up from top to bottom every day? Consider giving your skin a break, let your biome do it’s thing. You’re still dry brushing, rinsing, and toweling off so perhaps that’s enough. Finally, follow up with a great moisturizer from head to toe. Your skin is like a barrier between the outside world and your tender insides, so staying well moisturized helps to keep the germs out (when you have a cut or a crack in your skin, think of this like your mouth in terms of how a cold/flu can get in). I am biased but I’ve been loving the Earth Connection Oils since they contain good bacteria, which I am obviously a huge fan of.

    Eating & Drinking

    Look, we all know what’s good for our bodies, and what’s not good (and that can range from person to person) so please, live your life.

    Just include some fermented food! Get some sauerkraut or miso, some tempeh or kimchi…cultured coconut yogurts, kombucha. You get it. Populate that gut with as many helpful critters as you can because not only do they improve digestion, but they also rev up our immune systems as well. Having a lot of great bacteria on your team helps battle off the bad ones. I’m more into eating fermented food than taking a probiotic, but that’s also because I like funky flavours. And because I have trust issues! (Are they really in there? How do I know?!) But maybe a probiotic works perfectly for you because you can’t handle the funk. That’s great, please do what works!

    Know Thyself

    Perhaps my most crucial tip: Learn your “tells”. When you are about to get sick, your body is usually sending you quiet messages beforehand. Maybe you’re extra sleepy, or extra thirsty. My wisdom teeth start to get sore. Figure out what the first signs are *before* the obvious signs (sore throat, runny nose, etc) and pay attention!

    AND THEN get some oregano oil because damn. It works!! Take a few drops under the tongue, let it get spicy, take a sip of water, swish, and swallow. Do this in the morning when you wake up and before bed at the first signs, and try to do it for a couple days after the signs go away. Oregano oil is a lot more potent than you think it is, it’s a natural antibiotic so don’t get too carried away, and don’t take it for longer than a week. I’ve heard so many anecdotes about people throwing up because they took too much (someone I know drank a whole bottle…). Just a few drops.

    I have to go through this cycle about once a month since I spend so much time in an enclosed space with so many sweating bodies and feel like I am almost always right on the verge of getting sick. Oregano oil has saved my butt so many times, well worth the $20 investment.

    This is a topic I could speak on forever. But keep in mind that, it’s not your fault if you get sick. We’re not robots yet, and we’re all fallible no matter our habits. So be kind to yourself, take time off work / life (hopefully), snuggle up on the couch and watch movies, order in your favourite ramen. Take it as an opportunity to slow down.

    As a parting gift and a thank you for reading this whole post, let me share my favourite thing I do to keep myself sane, sick or not. I take Sundays off (maybe for you it’s a different day), and every once in awhile when my batteries need serious recharging, I'll wake up on Sunday morning with a clear schedule and intentionally give myself permission to literally do nothing all day. I set my expectation of complete laziness. If you have people you live with, maybe they need this too and you can be lazy lasagna's together! Stress weakens our immune system, so a rest day is such a necessary way to build yourself back up and I feel like starting the day with the expectation of rest is the best way to swat away that pesky feeling that you're not being productive. 

    I hope you found something useful here to integrate! I feel like I have fully jinxed myself and will be getting sick any day now, so feel free to add your favourite immune boosters in the comments (the weirder the better!) and to send this to anyone who needs it <3 

    ps. I'm sorry if you made it this far looking for a smoothie recipe as per the photo. There's no smoothie, but Jessica Blaine Smith takes really great pics. 

  • Comments on this post (1 comment)

    • Marcella says...

      All about that Propolis life. Spray it on your throat and let it love you on the inside. Good standard!

      January 31, 2020

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