How to Stay Healthy this Winter

I have truly found this past year has taught so many people the value of health and wellbeing. It brought the focus back to your body’s ability to fight off and even heal from unwanted visitors. Winter is luring around the corner and a season where we normally need our immune systems to be in top condition. If you give your body the support it needs, it will be so much stronger in your fight against an infection.

Our first line of defence is still following safety protocols, adhering to good hygiene and not being irresponsible in your contact with people.

There are however certain immunity-boosting behaviours we can all apply that could strengthen your defence systems and make your body an inhospitable environment for viruses.
Practically everything you do daily from what you eat, how you exercise, how much you sleep, how you handle stress and who you interact with, will either build up your immune system or break it down. It is a matter of choice!

1) Prioritize self-care.
• Make sure to practice relaxation with breathing, yoga, or a walk in nature.
• Move regularly and stick to your exercise routine.
• Take a warm bath as it will raise your body temperature and encourage relaxation.
• Get a good dose (at least 20 minutes) of sun exposure ever day. This will help elevate your mood, stimulate Vitamin D production, boost immunity and regulate your sleep-wake-cycle.

2) Sleep
• Focus on good quality restorative sleep of 7-9 hours every night.
• Sleep stimulates a collection of immune factors. ( There can be a 70% drop in natural killer cell activity by getting 4 hours or less of sleep for just one night!)
• Breast cancer, prostate cancer and intestinal cancer has been linked to sleep deprivation.
• The WHO even lists any form of nightshift work as a probable carcinogen.

3) Focus on your gut health.
• Your gut immune cells make up about 70% of your body’s immune system. Feeding the microbiome what it needs to function optimally will help maintain this delicate balance and intact gut wall.
• Eat fresh, unprocessed foods with a large focus on organic veggies.
• Add prebiotic food to your diet (onions, leeks, garlic, etc).
• Get enough fibre in your diet daily.
• Fermented foods and a probiotic supplement can be greatly beneficial.
• Stay hydrated.
• Drink healing organic bone broth to support the gut lining.
• Tea rich in polyphenols will also help cell repair and supports the immune system.

4) Activate autophagy to help boost immunity.
• Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, to be able to regenerate newer and healthier cells. This helps the body recover faster and better.
• You can activate autophagy with a healthy fasting protocol of a 16 hour overnight fast a couple of times a week.

5) Add different plants to your diet.
• Food is not just fuel for energy; it gives instruction to our cells and DNA.
• It provides us with nutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals that have been proven helpful to reduce a virus’s ability to penetrate cells and replicating.
• It is suggested to eat the rainbow with your fruit and veggies to make sure that you get a good variety of all the nutrients.
• It is also helpful to use anti-viral spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, thyme and cayenne pepper.

6) Consider supplements.
• When you know that your immune system will need some extra help, there are many natural supporting supplements on the market. Whenever you have to choose a supplement always aim to buy the best quality possible without sugar or artificial additives.
• Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Omega 3, Quercetin, Zinc and probiotics have all proven to be helpful.

Remember that optimal health does not come from one big change, but from the small things you do consistently.

Immune Health

For a virus to survive, it needs a host. If the host is not healthy, the virus can wreak havoc. If the host is healthy, it is more difficult for the virus to cause damage.

Viruses highjack your energy systems, they go into your cells and use your resources to reproduce their own DNA and to gain energy. They take advantage of the systems in your body to reproduce and to spread. If you want to optimally generate an immune system that can fight this battle against a virus, you need to take care of yourself.

Our goal is to enjoy our seventies and eighties and beyond without being burdened by chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or arthritis. This is definitely what the anthropologist, Ashley Montagu, had in mind when he said: “to die young as late as possible.” The aim is not to radically extend lifespan, but to drastically diminish the amount of time spend seriously ill closer to the end of our lives and thus increasing healthpan.

We basically have three lines of defence against infections.
• The first line of defence against infection is the surface barriers. This is your skin and mucous membranes. Therefore, it is so important to wash your hands and keep them clean.
• The second line of defence is your body’s internal mechanisms that fight against disease. The phagocytic leucocytes (white blood cells), antimicrobial proteins, inflammatory response and fever.
• The third line is when we have adaptive immunity through lymphocytes, antibodies, and memory cells. For the latter two, we need to make sure tat our immune systems are in tip-top shape to function properly when needed.

Every 10 seconds we form 1 million white blood cells, 20 million red blood cells and 30 million platelet cells. We are literally regenerating our immune system constantly.

It has been proven that our immune system is directly influenced by what we eat, how we move and exercise, sleep, how we handle stress and what kind of supplements we take. We might be more in charge of how our immune system reacts than most people realise.

When functioning properly, the immune system identifies and attacks a variety of threats like viruses, bacteria and parasites, while distinguishing them from the body’s own healthy tissue.

You need to treat your immune system with respect. Your immune system will place those cells where they are needed.

Autophagy and Hormesis

What you eat, when you eat, how much you sleep, the exercise you do and how you handle stress all have a significant influence on your health.

Nowadays, we have too much food available, and we eat it over too long a period each day. By this we cause too much growth and too little repair in our bodies.

We must allow our bodies time to activate autophagy and hormesis- two amazing processes by which the body can heal and repair itself.

Autophagy happens when the body activates a system where the cells consume damaged cellular structures like damaged proteins (of which viruses can be one), broken DNA, toxins, etc. This also promotes longevity by reducing inflammation, senescence, and oncogenesis.

Hormesis is the beneficial adaptation to intermittent, low dose beneficial stress like time restricted feeding, cold exposure, or certain kinds of exercise.

Start to listen to your body and experiment with different eating windows and exercise routines. You will soon find out that your body is telling you more than you were ever aware of.

Your body wants to heal itself – learn to provide it with the correct tools it needs.

Skin Health

Mark Twain said: “The finest clothing made is a person’s own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.

The skin is our largest organ and can weigh up to 3,6 kilograms. It does much more than merely covering us. Our skin acts as a waterproof and insulating shield against the damaging and harmful effects of sunlight, chemicals and extreme weather conditions. It forms part of our immune system, protecting us from bacteria, viruses and fungi, helps to regulate our body temperature, acts as sensory organ, manufactures Vitamin D and aids in detoxification.

With all these important functions in mind, it is just fitting to believe that we need to protect and take care of our skin as best possible.

Here are a few tips on giving your skin the care it needs:
• Stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
• Wear a good quality sunscreen and re-apply every two hours when you are in direct sunlight.
• Never go to bed with make-up on.
• Respect the protective acid mantle on the outer layer of the skin by choosing skincare products that are pH balanced for its slightly acidic composition.
• The epidermis is easily reached with skin care products.
• The deeper dermis and dermo-epidermal junction can be revitalized via small injections with sterile medical solutions containing hyaluronic acid to replace what has been lost.

The skin is not a separate entity but forms part of our biology. Our diet also greatly influences the quality of our skin. Take care of your skin daily and it will keep protecting you from all the unwanted external factors.

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