THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD: PEOPLE WHO TAKE SICK DAYS AND PEOPLE WHO DON'T.
If you’re one of the ones that doesn't, please do. You’re getting the rest of us sick, forcing us to stay home and watch reruns of Friends while slurping chicken soup. As luxurious as that sounds, we all know taking time off work unexpectedly always ends up being super stressful. You come back to all of your unfinished business and an overflowing inbox with a vengeance, and find yourself more exhausted than when you woke up sick.
Save yourself the trouble (hey, you can still watch Friends and eat chicken soup when you’re feeling healthy) with these seven immune-boosting tips. And when you’re done reading, make sure to forward this to Sicky McSickerson in the next cubicle over.
When you start to get sick, your body begins a series of (totally normal and natural) inflammatory processes, which can be exacerbated by other factors such as stress, excess intake of sugars or processed foods, and even things that might seem healthy, such as high-intensity exercise. The best thing you can do for your body at this time is to support this process with the right foods and activities, listed below.
1. LOAD UP ON THE ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants fight free radicals, destructive particles that can disrupt your cell’s normal functions. Even though the word “antioxidant” sounds fancy, you don’t need to take a pill or supplement to get your fair dose. Deep colored fruits and vegetables like dark leafy greens, berries, and sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants as well as fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. You can also get a high dose in dark (70% or more) chocolate.
When you’re starting to feel run down, it might be tempting to reach for a coffee as a pick-me-up. Don't.
2. HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE
When you’re starting to feel run down it might be tempting to reach for a coffee as a pick-me-up. Don't. Try gulping down some water instead. Water is your body’s main transportation system, and essential in carrying nutrients and white blood cells through all of your system.
3. BACK AWAY FROM THE INTENSE EXERCISE
If you’re already sick, a spin class might not be the best option for you. While sick, avoid taxing your body with unnecessary work. You can pick up where you left off when you're feeling better.
If you’re feeling good but looking to avoid using your sick days, make sure to participate in moderate intensity exercise four to six days per week to strengthen your muscles, and your immune system. This means working out at an intensity where you’re still comfortable enough to hold a casual conversation, but too out of breath to give a presentation.
4. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
This doesn’t require listening to the Spice Girls on repeat—although that couldn’t hurt. Adding more herbs and spices to your meals such as cinnamon, ginger, and cilantro can have amazing anti-inflammatory effects, while also making your meals taste delicious. Try adding some cinnamon to your oatmeal or sipping on some ginger tea while you answer your emails.
5. FEED YOUR GUT
About 70-80% of our immune system is in the gut, i.e. your digestive tract. Take good care of it by feeding it with beneficial bacteria. Try drinking a kombucha, or taking a daily probiotic supplement. This can help crowd out any harmful bacteria that might otherwise lead to infection.
6. SHAKE THE SUGAR
This is the one nobody wants to hear, but if you’re trying to feed your gut with the good stuff, it doesn’t hurt to cut back on the more processed foods. That means foods that are high in processed sugars and carbohydrates. Read: candy, cookies, cakes, and pizza. We’re sorry.
It doesn’t help that year-end stress and mayhem always overlaps with cold season. Make sure to take frequent breaks (yes, breaks) and get plenty of sleep to give your body the rest it needs to repair and fight off infections.
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Which one of these immune boosting strategies do you struggle with? Have any remedies of your own?