Want some simple ways to stay healthy this winter? Here are a few key ideas: 1) let go of what’s not healthy 2) take in what is healthy 3) develop a healthy attitude and 4) make use of specific immune boosters.

What do I mean by letting go of what’s not healthy? How about sugar, dyes, artificial ingredients and preservatives, deep fried foods, and the like. Foods that raise your blood sugar, are artificial, or are hard to digest, can tax your body’s resources and leave them less able to protect you from the increased germs you may be exposed to in close quarters this winter.

What about gossip, fear, and worry? As we understand more and more the connection between mind and body, between how we feel and how our immune system functions, we see more and more the importance of our thoughts and attitude on our health. Become aware of what you’re listening to or watching on TV, and what you’re talking about and thinking about, especially before bed when your subconscious mind takes over for the night. Let go of those things that do not add life or health to you and your family.

Next, take in what is healthy. Begin with plenty of color from fresh, preferably organic, fruits and vegetables. Eat as much fresh, organic food as possible, and drink plenty of purified water. Fresh air is also important—open a window or take a walk outside when possible. If you have allergies or are confined indoors, consider an indoor air purifier.

How about things that make you feel good? Surround yourself with beauty, nature, sunlight, music, and what brings you joy. Remember, it is not only what you eat and drink that is important to your well-being.

Which brings us to your mood, or attitude, and its effect on your health. We all have experienced being hungry or tired and finding ourselves a little grumpy or easily irritated—in other words, our physical condition has affected our thinking and emotions. The reverse is also true—what we think about and how we feel can profoundly affect out immune system and our health.

So learn to be thankful. “In everything give thanks.” Find something to be thankful for throughout the day, especially at the beginning and end of your day. If you’re feeling irritable or depressed, intentionally choose to give thanks for something good in your life. For some of you who are experiencing difficulties right now, this may be challenging, but well worth the practice.

Lastly, make use of specific immune boosters, especially when feeling run down. One of the simplest is to drink warm broth or herbal tea, or even warm water with fresh lemon and raw honey, throughout the day—ideally a cup or bowl an hour if you’re feeling run down. If you’re at work all day, fill a large thermos or two with broth or tea and sip throughout the day. Adding chopped garlic to broth will give further immune benefits, or if you’re bold, chew a few cloves directly or add them to freshly made vegetable juice.

In addition, support yourself with a good multivitamin and omega three fatty acids from fish oil or cod liver oil (cod liver oil in the winter is especially good because it includes vitamins A and D). Herbs like echinacea and goldenseal can be used for a week or two when needed. Probiotics to restore normal gut flora are important with repeated illness or antibiotic use, and colostrum and mushroom extracts such as reishi can also enhance the immune system.

In summary, let go of what’s unhealthy, take in what’s healthy and makes you feel good, in everything give thanks, and use immune-boosters when needed. With these strategies in place, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy winter.

Copyright Ben Lo, MD 11/04

Author's Bio: 

Ben Lo, MD, is a national wellness coach, writer, and speaker. For Dr. Ben’s free weekly wellness letter by email, visit www.doctorbenlo.com