Are you already hearing the first snuffles and sneezes signaling an oncoming cold? Yup, fall is here. Back to school, closed up windows .... germs. Yuck. Don't despair though, I'm going to share with you some of the best tips I know of to keep your immune system strong and healthy this cold and flu season and a super special secret weapon brought to you by my colleague Michelle Dwyer - a health and nutrition superhero.
Are you ready?
Wash your hands. I know, sounds obvious, but seriously - more frequent hand washing for 20 seconds or more with soap and hot water is one of the best ways to stop the spread of germs. Don't limit your hand washing to *ahem* post bathroom visits, think about all the things you touch in a day that are potential minefields of germs. (Germaphobes, I apologize in advance) Money! Doorknobs! Railings! Homework! iPhones! OMG - iPhones! If that last one doesn't make you want to lather up, I don't know what will.
Hands off. Germs enter our body through one of three ways: eyes, nose, mouth. Most of the germs you encounter will get picked up on your hands so after you've - what now? - washed. your. hands. be sure to then keep them off your face so the creepy crawlies don't have a way in.
Get more sleep. I know, I know, by the time the dinner dishes are cleaned up, the homework is checked and rechecked and the kids are finally in bed all you want to do is binge watch your favorite show for the few remaining hours of the night. But before you hit "play next" on just one more episode of Game of Thrones think about what that extra lost hour of sleep may mean for you down the road. A rested body is better able to fight off a virus once it enters your system and makes you less vulnerable to getting sick. A lost hour or two of sleep each night will leave your immune system weak and vulnerable. So save it for tomorrow night - the suspense is part of the fun!
Rinse your nose. Netti pots sound gross and for the squeamish it may be the last thing you want to give a try, but rinsing your nasal cavity with heated and cooled salt water flushes out virus particles that have entered through your nose as well as any accumulating mucus which will lower the risk of infection build up and the saline is naturally anti-microbial.
Exercise. Daily, moderate exercise boosts the body's ability to fight off illness. But be careful, all out body blasting and working out to exhaustion can fatigue your body making you more susceptible to illness. So, don't kill yourself keeping up at the gym, but do get yourself moving daily.
Eat yourself healthy. Citrus foods, ginger, garlic, elderberry, mushrooms. almonds and yogurt are all foods that are known for immune boosting properties. Increase the amounts of these foods in your winter diet and you'll give yourself that extra edge.
which leads me to ....
The lovely, gracious and wonderfully knowledgeable Health and Wellness Coach, Michelle Dwyer has bequeathed unto us this delicious recipe for her Immune Boosting Vegetable Broth and offers the following tips for using it.
"When making broth to really support the immune system, add a LOT more ginger and garlic. You can also add dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, oregano, reishi mushrooms and/or astragalus root for extra immune boosting support.
Broth is really great to drink when recovering from surgery, illness or chemotherapy. It is a great way to get nourishment for your body without putting too much stress on your digestive system.
You can add a little Tamarin, Braggs's amino acids, coconut amino acids or miso to your finished broth for a little added flavor or some coconut oil for a little sustenance.
Broth can be sipped lone or used as a base for any soup. To store leftover broth, divide among mason jars to sip during the week or freeze."
IMMUNE BOOSTING VEGETABLE BROTH RECIPE
1-2 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
1-2 unpeeled medium onion, including skins, cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
1 head of garlic, skins and all, roughly chopped
a few inches of fresh ginger root, roughly sliced
1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parley
1 sweet potato or yam with skins, quartered
1 8-inch strip of kombu seaweed (available at Whole Foods_
2 Bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries (optional)
1 Tablespoon quality sea salt (leave out if you are cooking beans with the broth)
Important: Adjust the amount of ingredients to the size of your stock pot. Other vegetable choices can include: mushrooms, leeks, fennel, herbs, parsnips and potatoes.
Rinse all the vegetables and remove any dirt
In a large stock pot, combine all the ingredients except the salt. Fill the pot to 2 inches below the rim with water, cover and bring to a boil
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low and simmer for a minimum of two hours. AS the stock simmers some of the water will evaporate. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. I like to simmer mine for 4 hours or more.
Add the salt and stir
Let the broth cool in pot util it is room temperature
Strain using a large coarse-mesh strainer into a heat resistant container.
Makes 6-7 quarts
Let us know if you try the recipe!