Prepare Your Body for Battle this Fall!

As soon as the weather turns cooler, everyone goes on high alert about the cold and flu season.  Flu shot clinics are rampant, and the newest over-the-counter drugs claiming to bring you relief from your symptoms try to convince you of their efficacy in the battle against your rebelling head, nose, and throat.  Before you feel like a runaway train has hit you though, you can be proactive in keeping your body healthier from the beginning.

Past studies have shown that a flu vaccine is not the cure-all to protecting yourself from getting sick. The unfortunate truth is that it may only really keep you from getting one particular strain of the flu, and like in many years past, it may actually not protect you at all.  Without certainty of anything being fail-safe, it is ever more important that we find safe and positive ways to help keep our bodies healthy. Nothing is ever guaranteed to help, including vaccines, so finding alternative and safe ways to be proactive about your health is the best way you can be prepared.  Starting now, think about following these simple steps, and keep the Kleenex box from becoming your best friend this fall. 

1. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

The first step is a simple choice.  Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.  The naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that they provide will automatically give your body more energy to get through the ever-darkening days.  With it being harvest time, there are many locally grown varieties to choose from, so enjoy cooking and tasting something you’ve never tried before.  My new favorite way to include vegetables is by using them in “sweet” places.  Not only have I made pumpkin cookies, but I’ve also made savory pancakes by adding broccoli and pureed squash to a mix. 

2. Eat yogurt or kefir every day.

Another way to really boost your immune system is to add yogurt and kefir to your diet.  While they both contain beneficial bacteria which give you the ability to make a stronger attack on any virus or infection that you may encounter, kefir is actually more powerful.  Kefir can settle in the intestinal tract, have beneficial yeast and more nutritional value than yogurt, and digests easier as well.  There are many flavors available in the refrigerated natural food section of your typical grocery store.   Since they taste like a milkshake or a smoothie, they are even an easy sell to your kids!  For a change of pace, try Greek yogurt.  It can be used as a substitute for sour cream to top dinners that are normally spicy or bland.  It is a protein powerhouse with a creamy taste you will love!

3. Exercise 3-4 times per week.

Even if you haven’t started yet, it is never too late.  Exercising three to four times per week for 30 minutes has been shown to have a very positive effect on your health and your immune system.  Intensive, long workouts may make you more vulnerable to colds and viruses, so choose moderate workouts to give your body the most benefit in strengthening your defenses.  Our family really enjoys being part of a gym once the cold weather hits, as it gives us a way to stay active and not glued to electronics.  Look for a facility with a pool if possible, and enjoy some family swim times together as well.

4. Drink tea.

Though there is no clear evidence of whether certain herbal teas will really help fight off any sicknesses you have or not, it never hurts to try those that are safe and taste good.  At the very least, you are choosing a calorie-free way to keep the shivers at bay!  Try a variety of tea that includes ginger, cinnamon, peppermint or chamomile.  Do be on the lookout for ingredients that you do not know are safe, or for extra claims of certain benefits.  At many stores you will find tasty versions for children to try as well.  The warm liquid may be enough to soothe a sore throat or open up breathing passageways. 

5. Go outside regularly.

Even when the snow covers the ground, getting outside for more than the dash to your car can have a great benefit to your health.  Fresh clean air, as opposed to the indoor air we breathe so much of during the cold seasons, isn’t lurking with nearly as many bacteria or viruses.  Nor is it filled with the dust and allergens that tend to build up in our homes and offices as the weather turns.  On a calm, sunny day try to get out to any one of the area’s numerous nature parks or trails and take a walk or a bike ride.  Make it a weekly standard addition to your calendar this year and cheerfully admire the changes that nature makes each week.

About Heidi Morris

Rochester Hills mom of three. Loves life, loves family, loves to share new and interesting things with everyone. Contact her today at [email protected]