During the peak of cold and flu season, it’s important to keep your immune system as healthy as possible. What puts it at risk? Lifestyle and environmental factors can negatively affect your ability to fight off illness: chronic stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, exposure to toxins like mold, or medications like chemotherapy can all take their toll. In addition, in Chinese medicine, exposure to cold and prolonged grief or depression can also make your body vulnerable.
In these winter months, and especially if you’re exposed to sick people, take the precaution to sleep more and eat better. Maintaining an exercise regimen helps, but overdoing it can put a strain on your body that might make it difficult to fight germs- so keep that moderation in mind if you feel a cold coming on. If you feel stressed out, take measures to reduce that stress- talk it out, practice yoga or meditation, or do an activity that helps you to shake it off. Remember to eat healthy during times when you feel run down- refined sugar and processed foods are the enemy of the immune system!
Wash your hands frequently especially after riding public transportation. When co-workers are sick at the office, be sure to sanitize or wash hands frequently too, as many people catch germs from door handles and keyboards at work. Drink plenty of fluids, and incorporate foods that contain vitamin C and zinc. Another look at this simple recipe is worthwhile- it can do wonders if you feel run down and it contains vitamin C, zinc and thyme, which has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties:
1 tablespoon honey
a few slices of fresh ginger
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lemon wedge
Steep the above ingredients in a thermos of hot water for at least 30 minutes and drink. Enjoy!