Holistic remedies for Winter: Natural Ways to Stay Healthy

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A cough, a sneeze, a sniffle and a wheeze. It’s that time of year when germs are flying and bodies are working overtime to dodge sickness. When it comes to our health, the practice of using natural remedies is becoming increasingly popular, especially as we still are journeying our way through a pandemic.

Good thing for us, our bodies are well equipped with a pretty remarkable immune system that defends us from disease-causing bacteria on a daily basis. But to ward off sickness, we can do our share to keep our system in tip-top shape. Although natural medicine has been practiced since the beginning of time, only in the last several years has it started getting so much attention.
Most experts agree we don’t need a handful of pills to keep us perky. Fortunately, there are several things we can do naturally to maintain optimal health and energy levels. Here are a few ways we can winterize our bodies and fight germs the biological way.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, called elderberries “nature’s medicine chest for the common people.” Today, there is vast interest and unmet demand for native elderberry as a functional ingredient. Elderberries are known for their immune-boosting properties, and in today’s environment, anything we can do to boost our resistance is a win.

Michelle Gordon, a Midwest elderberry grower and advocate, says the public’s attention is turning to protection. “Many people are focusing on products such as elderberry for themselves and their families to ward off sickness. We are more conscious than ever about what we are putting in our bodies as well as the effects from the environment.”

Elderberries, rich in antioxidants, vitamins C, A, B6 and beta carotene, can be found in a variety of products. “Juices, syrups, elixirs and gummies are just a few of the products broadly available in today’s marketplace,” notes Gordon.

How can you make elderberry work for you? There are a variety of elderberry products including liquids, pills and gummies. Gordon focuses her time on producing an elderberry elixir, and recommends taking one ounce daily to bolster the body’s immune system.

Other Sickness-Fighting Foods
Garlic: Known for keeping vampires away in the movies, this versatile condiment also fights off influenza and other wintertime bugs. The best method for protection is to add it to foods just before serving. Heating it up deactivates some of its protective properties.

Mushrooms: Fungi such as shiitake, reishi and maitake improve cardio health and immunity. If you’re trying a certain variety for the first time, eat a very small bite, as some mushrooms may have unwanted effects on the body.

Fermented Foods: Fermented foods are a good source of healthy bacteria because the fermentation process allows various helpful forms of bacteria to multiply and grow. Yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir are rich in beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, which make our digestive tract healthier and stronger. Studies show having an ample amount of good gut bacteria can help our immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and those harmful invader organisms. If fermented foods aren’t for you, try probiotic supplements to keep your gut on track.

Other Natural Immune Boosters
Getting ZZZs: A night without sleep won’t bring you down, but regular sleep deprivation causes excess amounts of the hormone cortisol. Lose too much sleep over a couple of weeks and you may be on the road to Virusville.

Blitzing the Booze: Too much alcohol impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to infection, but how do you know when enough is enough? Experts say drinking more than one 1.5-ounce daily may lessen our chances of fighting off disease. It’s good to sip with friends, though. A glass of wine or beer provides health advantages, and sharing with a buddy provides socialization, a fun way to increase our immunity.

Take a Chill Pill
In today’s environment, it’s easy to get stressed out. Too much stress promotes inflammation and long-term anxiety, which can lead to imbalances in our immune cell function. Mind-body therapies including meditation, yoga, tai chi, creative visualization and hypnosis can keep our immune system at the top of its game. Some of us could also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist, whether virtually or in-person.

Let’s face it. Our bodies are armed with a myriad of defenses to guard against germs and bacteria, but it is up to us to bring our well-tuned weapon to battle. In our busy, often stressful, lives, many of us are searching for natural health solutions. Talking to our doctor or medical provider can give us a head start on natural immunity. And by taking a cue from Mother Nature, we can arm ourselves with the biological boost we need to stay happy, healthy and strong during the winter season.

Sources: riverhillsharvest.com, health.harvard.edu and healthline.com.