As the long lazy days of summer wind to a close, the colorful leaves and crisp air announce the arrival of fall. There are so many things to love about fall, from pumpkin lattes, to apple picking, to cozy sweaters and scarves. But with the change of seasons, cold and flu season begins in earnest. Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean we spend more time indoors, and we have a tendency to be less active as a result, which can lead to weight gain. Busier schedules this time of year may mean increased stress levels for many people. Never fear. These stay-healthy tips can help you make it through the season with your sanity and health intact, including everything from how to avoid catching that bug that’s going around to a comforting, guilt-free superfood dessert idea (see tip #16).
1. Switch to Non-Toxic Soap
Of course, you should wash your hands frequently during cold and flu season. But avoid antibacterial soaps. Antibacterial ingredients in soaps can destroy beneficial bacteria without improving cleanliness, and synthetic fragrances can disrupt hormones. Look for a soap that is either unscented or gets its scent from natural essential oils. Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial ingredient that doesn’t destroy beneficial bacteria.
2. Promote Whole-Body Healing with Garlic
The health-giving attributes of the stinking rose are numerous. You can turn to garlic year-round for immune support—the herb has broad antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and other antimicrobial actions. Increase the dose if you’ve got a cold or the flu to speed recovery. Garlic supports heart health in a variety of other ways too, including lowering blood pressure and improving artery health. And Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), a proprietary supplement form of garlic, has been shown to enhance memory retention and improve learning deficits. It’s also been shown to fortify liver function and protect against drug and chemical toxicity.
3. Get on the Bone Broth Bandwagon
Chicken soup is always good and comforting when you’re under the weather, but bone broth may be even better. If you haven’t taken part yet in the bone broth craze, it’s time. “Simmering causes the bones and ligaments [in meats and poultry] to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine that have the power to transform your health,” says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, who recommends daily consumption of bone broths. Bone broth offers inside-out health benefits, including stronger immune function; healthier hair, skin, and nails; less joint pain; and better gut health.
4. Indulge Your Skin
During the fall and winter months, dry indoor air, low humidity, wind, and cold weather contribute to dry, flaky, and itchy skin. But instead of using body lotions with synthetic fragrances and other toxins, indulge in naturally moisturizing lotions with shea butter or natural oils such as coconut, vitamin E, almond, argan, or sea buckthorn oil. All have a long history of being used to enhance beauty.
5. Don’t Fear the Shaker
Eat more salt. You read that right—more salt. “One of salt’s most intriguing properties is its importance for many facets of reproduction—from sexual desire and procreation to gestation and lactation—and this connection has been known at least since the time of the ancient Greeks,” says James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, author of The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It all Wrong—and How Eating More Might Save Your Life. How should you eat more salt? Start eating real food and salt it to taste, says DiNicolantonio.
6. Soak Away Soreness and Stress
There’s nothing like a hot bath to diffuse stress and soak away muscle soreness. While adding Epsom salts (magnesium) to a bath can ease tension and stress and renew tired muscles, there are other natural ways to infuse a bath with healing and pain-relieving powers:
- Powdered vitamin C: Add approximately 2 Tbs. of vitamin C powder or a single-serve vitamin C packet.
- CBD oil: This is especially good for tension and anxiety. Add a few drops before stepping into a bath.
- Essential oils: The top three for sore muscles are lavender, helichrysum, and rosemary; use a few drops of each.
7. Keep Apple Cider Vinegar on Hand
This healing elixir has been used for centuries to cure a host of ailments. Apple cider vinegar is known to enhance immune function, important as cold and flu season sets in. But benefits don’t end there: improved digestive health, weight loss, blood sugar regulation, energy, and detox and cleansing are attributed to this panacea-like remedy. Add 1–2 Tbs. to a glass of water and drink daily in the morning. Always use raw,
unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
8. Turn Down the Thermostat for Better Sleep
“We get more restorative sleep in cooler environments,” says Joe Colella, MD, author of The Appetite Solution. He recommends turning down the thermostat to keep your bedroom temperature no warmer than 69 degrees.Need help falling or staying asleep? If melatonin is too strong for you, try passionflower. This beautiful herb has been shown to induce sleep while also improving sleep quality.
9. Use Green Drinks for Optimum Healing
Taken daily, green drinks can support immune health. Green drinks contain a healthy mix of nutrient-filled algae such as chlorella and grasses like barley or wheat grass that offer detoxifying amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants. These alkalizing formulas also encourage a healthy pH balance in the body. A good green drink supplement should clearly list each ingredient and the amount it contains per serving.
10. Take a Multi—Every Day
Studies show that taking a good-quality multi-vitamin can immediately reduce stress and boost mood, and ongoing use can improve memory and mental performance. In a survey of 10,000 American adults, people taking a multi on most days were more than twice as likely to get recommended amounts of essential nutrients.
11. Refresh with an Easy Desk Stretch
“You’re only as young as your spine is flexible and your mind is open,” says Christopher Harrison, founder of AntiGravity Fitness. For a quick stretch at your desk, he recommends a spinal twist: Cross your right leg over your left. Twist your chest to the right so that your left elbow is above your right knee, and reach your right arm behind your chair. Look over your right shoulder and take three deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
12. Be Good to Your Thyroid
Iodine is a key nutrient for thyroid health, but anyone who doesn’t eat iodized salt—commercial table salt—may not get enough. Symptoms of low thyroid can include low energy, morning stiffness, sore soles of the feet, weight gain, and depression. In addition, says Nancy Evans, ND, at Holtorf Medical Group, “Achiness is one of the main symptoms of low thyroid.” She recommends taking a multivitamin with iodine and selenium, another nutrient that will help keep your thyroid happy. Sea vegetables such as kelp are rich food sources of iodine. Other important nutrients for thyroid health: L-tyrosine, zinc, and copper.
13. Get Rid of Toxic Candles
Scented candles most often contain synthetic scents made with hormone-disrupting toxins. Swap them for unscented candles or those scented with nontoxic, natural essential oils—sometimes labeled as aromatherapy candles.
14. Combat Hypertension with Celery
Have high blood pressure? Here’s a remedy you may not know about—celery seed extract. This small but mighty seed contains an important compound known as 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB). A human study looked at the ability of 3nB in celery seed extract to decrease blood pressure in 30 patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension. The results showed that those taking the extract experienced an 8.2 mmHg drop in their systolic pressure and an 8.5 mmHg decline in their diastolic blood pressure after six weeks of supplementation. Other research suggests that 3nB also helps to minimize the flow of calcium into the muscle cells that line blood vessels.
15. Take a Quick Heart Test
Studies following more than 1.2 million people show that resting heart rate, meaning beats per minute when you’re just sitting around, is a good indicator of heart health. The best time to test is in the evening. Take your pulse for 60 seconds, or count for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to get beats per minute. Heart attack risk is higher for resting rates above 90 beats per minute; 60 to 70 is ideal. If your heart rate is high, start an exercise program—with your doctor’s permission.
16. Make Your Own Chia Pudding
“Chia pudding is packed with nutrients, has the texture of pudding (yes, please!), and is totally customizable to whatever flavor you are in the mood for,” says Alexis Kornblum Davidson, author of Lexi’s Clean Kitchen and creator of the blog lexiscleankitchen.com. Here’s her basic chia pudding recipe:
- 1 cup nondairy milk of your choice
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 2 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup
- 1 cup diced or sliced fresh fruit of choice
Combine milk, chia seeds, and honey in a container, and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours and up to 24 hours. Remove from fridge and add fruit topping or layer pudding and fruit in a serving jar or glass.
17. Pick the Right Probiotic
When it comes to probiotics, each group of bacteria has different species, and each species has different strains. Researchers are still studying which strains should be used for which health conditions, but a handful have been demonstrated to help with the following:
|WHEN YOU HAVE...||TAKE...|
A prescription for antibiotics
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and/or Saccharomyces boulardii
International travel Plans
Saccharomyces boulardii and/or Bifidobacterium longum
Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Streptococcus thermophiles
Irritable bowel Syndrome
Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus plantarum 288V, or Bifidobacterium bifidum
Impaired digestive immunity
Enterococcus faecalis TH10 or Bifidobacterium longum
A vaginal infection
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Lactobacillus reuteri
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis
18. Ditch Diet Soda
Studies show that people who drink diet soda can gain more weight than regular soda drinkers. One possible reason for this is that artificial sweeteners in diet soda trick the brain into craving more food. Research also shows that diet soda contributes to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke risk just as much as regular soda, and that diet soda can even raise the risk of dementia. Instead, try natural sodas with a hint of sweetness from fruit or stevia. Or make your own: Combine sparkling water with a splash of pomegranate juice and a squeeze of lime for a refreshing soda-like beverage.
19. Take Curcumin Daily
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, can help improve the liver’s ability to detoxify on an ongoing basis. Gaetano Morello, ND, recommends taking a patented form, such as BCM-95, Meriva, or Theracurmin, for enhanced detoxification. Turmeric supplements are another way to take curcumin and have been shown to reduce inflammation, enhance mental focus, and more.
20. Decorate with Ferns
Plants don’t just look pretty. Indoor air pollution in offices and homes can emanate from particle board, furniture, window coverings, carpeting, and paper products. Formaldehyde is a major culprit, but indoor plants can absorb and neutralize significant amounts. Korean scientists tested 86 different plants and found that ferns are the most effective, the top one being a Japanese royal fern (Osmunda japonica).
21. Brew a Cup of “Golden Milk”
Golden milk is made from turmeric, a sweet-and-bitter root that can reduce inflammation, enhance proper functioning of the liver, boost brain health, and clear out toxins.
View or "Golden Milk" recipe
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Beyond GI Health
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Elderberries Strengthen Immunity
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