We all know the holiday season isn't always as relaxing as it should be in theory.
If you're travelling, you're likely faced with the stress of busy airports, recycled germy air on airplanes, and potentially new time zones interfering with your sleep rhythms. On top of that, as we move into the holidays, you may find yourself running around stressing over gifts, maybe stressing over finances, stressing over preparing for all the family events, ect. We also have a tendency to consume more sugar, eat larger portions, drink more alcohol, and stay up later than usual. All of these factors cause extra stress on the body and it's definitely safe to say that this time of year gives our immune systems a run for their money.
Below are some tools to keep on hand or in mind for when you feel that inkling of a sore throat, or any of those other "you better watch yourself inklings". These are some of my favourite tools and practices to help you stay healthy and ward off sickness.
Ginger is an amazing food for immunity and is rich in antioxidants.
It contains natural antibiotics and is great for killing bacteria and reducing inflammation. I love drinking a nice strong ginger tea with a bit of unpasteurized honey when I have a sore throat.
Ginger is also great for your circulation and is a great blood cleanser.
It's also a very popular digestif- amazing for nausea, clearing gas and helping with indigestion.
Something interesting to note about ginger:
There actually is a difference between dried ginger and fresh ginger.
Dried ginger is best used for creating heat in the body and for retaining it. Using dried or ground ginger is an amazing addition to your winter smoothies or juices to help increase the thermal temperature of the often cooling vegetables and fruits.
Fresh ginger is more cooling and actually helps lower your body temperature. This makes fresh ginger great to use if you're trying to reduce a fever.
Either way, I recommend on keeping both dried and fresh ginger on hand throughout the winter.
TIP: Try this one out next time you notice your throat starts hurting- cut up a piece of fresh ginger about the size of a quarter and chew on it. Do this several times throughout the day. Those spicy, healing ginger juices will be able to work their magic on your throat and you might be able to spare yourself a bit of agony in the future. I used to be really prone to throat infections. Now whenever I feel the start of one coming on, I rest lots and do this. SO FAR, I have warded all of them off before they have gotten the chance to get any worse. (*knocks on wood*).
2. OREGANO OIL
Oregano oil is some potent stuff.
It's not something you should take all the time; it's something you should keep as your tough arsenal for when you need it.
When I feel those on the verge of getting sick inklings coming on, I start up with oregano oil- taking 2-4 drops under the tongue with a sip of water 3 times a day, away from food. It's awesome and works great, but it's strong- you have been warned.
If the taste is too much for you, oregano oil is available in capsule form too.
I like having the drops around so I can put some drops in water and gargle with it if I ever feel like somethings going on in my throat area.
When buying oregano oil, look for one that is organically sourced and has over 80% carvacrol.
3. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is not overrated.
Vitamin C is like candy for our adrenals- when our body is under stress we use it up really quickly. When our body is under too much stress, that's when we tend to get sick. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and plays major role in quenching harmful free radicals and supporting your immune system.
Yup, there are always good old oranges and grapefruit, but did you know that 1 cup of red pepper actually has double the amount of vitamin c of an orange? Your dark leafy greens are amazing sources as well, so embrace food like spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
It's best to embrace a diet rich in vitamin C on a daily basis. However, sometimes it's nice to have a supplement on hand for a little extra boost when you need it. For better absorption, look for a whole food source of vitamin C like acerola cherry, camu camu, or berries. When you take vitamin C from a whole food source, you get all the natural antioxidants and phytonutrients from the food too- these help your body assimilate the nutrient better- plus you get the added benefit of minerals and even more nutrition.
4. PORTION CONTROL
Watching your portions is actually a really nice thing you can do for your body during all of the holiday excitement. Massive blood sugar level swings, plus the pressure placed on our digestive organs to process huge meals is really an incredible stress on the body. This plays a role in those extra holiday pounds that many people tend to put on and let's face it- overeating doesn't leave you feeling too fabulous at the end of the day either.
I know there will be a lot of tempting, delicious things around, but I encourage you to be mindful of how much you have. Keep in mind a serving of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards and that 1 serving of grains is roughly 1/2 a cup cooked.
Below I have shared with you a recipe I love to make whenever I feel under the weather or like I might be coming down with something.
SPICY CITRUS IMMUNITY ELIXIR
This drink is so perfect to drink either when you feel like your immune system needs some love or when you straight up feel like complete garbage. You'll get lots of juicy vitamins and minerals plus plenty of warming, immune boosting spices. It tastes nice too!
This recipe will make about liter of STRONG tea. I store this in a large jar in my fridge and reheat it in small batches over the next few days adding water to dilute it as desired.
This is how you make it:
- 4 cups of water
- 3 or 4 oranges, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 lemon or lime, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp dried ginger (use fresh if you have a fever)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- a few pinches of sea salt or Himalayan rock salt
- 2-3 tbsp Manuka honey (could also use unpasteurized honey) - adjust amount to your taste
- Optional: 2 tbsp of coconut oil and 2 scoops of vitamin C powder (stir in at the end)
Roughly chop your fruit and spices to a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15-30 mins.
Afterwards, I like to transfer everything to a high powered blender and blend until smooth, however you have the option to simply strain it as well. I've strained it in my french press before, it was very easy.
Please note: the honey shouldn't be heated much, I just stir it in at the end (same with the vitamin C powder if you are adding some).
I have also made this recipe with a mixed variety of whatever citrus fruits I had on hand.
You can totally use whatever you have available. I like adding grapefruit to the mix, but it's a bit bitter so you may need to add a little more honey to even it out.
Feel free to adjust the spices to your taste. Sometimes I like doubling the ginger and the cayenne amounts so that it's extra spicy. Add more honey if you prefer it sweeter.
I usually drink in small, 1/2 cup servings. Sometimes I'll dilute it with more hot water an enjoy a big cup of it in my thermos when I'm on the go.
This is such a healing brew! Aside from supporting your immune system this drink is great for reducing inflammation in the body and for supporting your liver and your digestion too!
Serve hot, sip often.
Wishing you happy and healthy holidays,