I was inspired this month by my daughter’s dance teacher, Mrs Hendley from Breezy Point. This 86 year-old fire cracker wears a leotard and tights, thigh high stockings and teaches both ballet and tumbling to scores of three and a half year-olds. I hope to be like her when I am eighty-six!
Immune support starts with the foods that you eat and the practices you keep. Immunity decreases with fewer hours of sleep, irregular eating patterns, foods with poor nutritional value, sugary foods and stress.
I am offering some suggestions to help keep you and your crew as healthy as can be this winter.
Sweat it out:
In Chinese medicine we discuss the notion of your Wei Qi or your protective Qi. This is the barrier that fights against oncoming pathogens. When one has a fever it is considered a struggle between the Wei Qi and the Evil Qi trying to enter the body.
The easiest place for a pathogen to enter is the nape of the neck. This point is called Fang Chi, or wind pool and lies where the head and neck meet. This point is often tender on palpation. This is why it is so important to keep your neck covered and avoid catching a chill…Okay Grandma
If you catch a slight chill and feel that you are coming down with something the best thing to do is to generate a light sweat and then get under the covers. Ways to to do this are:
-Miso soup– fermented soy products have long been touted for their medicinal uses, scallions help fight cold and the hot, steamy broth makes you sweat.
-Chicken Soup: used since the 12th century, chicken soup has all the ingredients to heal, chicken bones leach calcium, oregano is an anti-bacterial, onions, i just added cabbage to mine thanks to Salud in Ditmas Park and it packs a higher vitamin punch.
-Tea: contains powerful, cold-fighting antioxidants called tannins and catechins that effectively fight free radicals in our body. A study conducted at Harvard University found that drinking five daily cups of black tea quadrupled our immune system in just two weeks!
-Tea with a Punch/Hot toddy: 2 cups of water, one shot of whisky and a squeeze of lemon, honey. puts you into a deep sleep and makes you sweat like crazy.
-Spicy Thai Fish Soup– Try it at Sripaphai, probably the best Thai food outside of Thailand.
-Sauna: I grew up with some crazy Finnish cousins who had saunas in their basements. I have vivid memories of family members rolling around in the snow naked after sustaining 200 degree plus temps for extended periods of time. I am not sure if it made them stronger but it sure looked tough? For a good Russian bathhouse Sandooney on Ave I and McDonald is a personal favorite.
-Hand-washing & moisturizing. Obvious but important. Moisturize to keep the small cracks to a minimum-especially if you’ve been washing your hands a lot.
-Keep the sinus passages moist: Neti-pot or a Sinus rinse is key.
-Sleep: 7-9 hours is best. Catching up with naps is helpful too.
-Decrease stress: exercise, meditation, reading, laughing…
-Acupuncture: naturally stimulate the immune system.
-Vitamin D3: lots of info in the news about high doses of Vitamin D3 for immunity.
Add some herbs to your diet:
-Raw Garlic-A potent antimicrobial compound found in garlic called allicin has been shown to make us 3x less likely to get sick.
-Ginger Root: antiviral, antibacterial, diaphoretic, soothes the stomach. Makes an awesome tea with raw honey if your throat is starting to get scratchy.
-Onion: boosts immunity, decongestant, tonifies the Lungs.
-Peppermint: antiviral, antibacterial, soothes the stomach, decongestant. Sometimes I put a little essential peppermint oil on my kids pajamas when they are congested. Just dont let them touch the oil.
-Echinacia: immune booster, tonic.
-Sage: stomach soother, antiviral, reduces fever.
-Elderberry: boosts immunity, tonic, promotes sweating. Tea or tincture works well.