Holistic Health

5 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Winter

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I work in a hospital without beds.

It’s a virtual hospital, where teams of doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses virtually monitor patients, both at rural hospitals and through FaceTime appointments with patients in their own homes.

It’s easily the greatest job I could have asked for. All the patient care, without the poop!

I would have said, “without the germs,” but I do work around other people. And most of those people have children who just went back to school. So there are still germs.

There are several ways to boost your immune system and naturally protect yourself from the worst of the cold and flu viruses that tend to plague the upcoming season, so I wanted to share with you 5 things I am implementing as easy ways to stay healthy this winter.

looking for easy and natural ways to stay healthy this winter? check out these 5 tips!

5 Easy and Natural Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

1. Use a water bottle with a cover over the straw

The flu virus doesn’t only travel through touch. It travels through sneezes, coughs, and the moisture that exists the mouth when talking (gross).

It’s important to stay hydrated, but not at the risk of accidentally licking up someone’s flu virus from your uncovered cup (double gross).

Protect yourself this winter with a water bottle that comes with a covered lid. I like this water bottle from Terra Lab.

What I like about it:

The water bottle is stainless steel – meaning you can put hot drinks in it without worrying if you are leeching toxic chemicals like BPA into your morning cup of joe.

It’s vacuum insulated – meaning your hot drinks stay hot and your cold drinks stay cold.

The top cover is button-activated – meaning you don’t have to touch the straw part with your hands. This keeps the straw fully protected for as long as possible.

It fits in a standard cup holder – have you ever had a thermos or water bottle you were obsessed with, but it didn’t fit in your cup holder? Isn’t that just the pits? No worries with this one. (Side note: that means this one is perfect to become your traveling reusable cup if you are going plastic-free!)

It’s affordable. I’ve seen some stainless steel water bottles upwards of almost $30. This one is under $20. Sold.

2. Homemade Hand Spray

A few years ago, the FDA admitted continued use of antibacterial products could actually lead to bacterial resistance.

Let’s go back to microbiology, where we learned that continued exposure to the same formula can trigger bacteria and viruses to mutate – this is how we are seeing the development of “super bugs” like MRSA and VRE – and why antibiotic stewardship is a huge focus of the health care community now.

Plants, however, vary ever so slightly in their chemical makeup, depending on their exposure to sunlight, soil nutrients, and rain. This makes it more difficult for bacteria and viruses to adjust and adapt.

Also, your body has good bacteria resting on your skin as well, acting essentially like little vacuum cleaners on the surface of the skin and eating up the bad bugs. A commercial spray is strong enough to wipe out all bacteria, good and bad, and disrupts the delicate balance of the skin, and making it easier for the bad bugs to take over.

So what do you do instead?

Make your own, of course!

Most recipes require a combination of aloe vera, witch hazel, and essential oils (read why I left my MLM for Plant Therapy essential oils here).

I like this easy recipe from Hello Glow.

Remember that citrus oils are photosensitive, which means you are more likely to burn if you wear them topically outside.

It’s best to keep mixtures containing essential oils in glass bottles, especially if you do decide to add a few drops of orange or lemon for a refreshing scent. I like these glass spray bottles for throwing into my purse, diaper bag, backpacks, whathaveyou.

3. Elderberry Products

Elderberries have been used in medicines for millennia due to their high antioxidant and powerful antiviral properties.

Elderberries were even used as a treatment therapy for the Panama flu epidemic in 1995!

There is evidence to suggest consuming elderberry products significantly lessens the typical course of cold and flu symptoms, ​according to studies on the topic.

Elderberries are poisonous when raw, as they interact with your body to produce cyanide. However, there are several safe ways to ingest the berry once it has been heated and that enzyme has been neutralized.

Common ways to supplement with elderberry include:

Elderberry syrup, store-bought or homemade

Elderberry gummies, store-bought or homemade, and

Elderberry tea

4. Stay Hydrated

Water is your body’s natural cleaning system. The human body is somewhere around 60% water.

Think of it this way: water is the freeway of the body, allowing the free movement of everything your body needs to function to where it needs to go, including the transportation of excess minerals and waste (like germs).

Dehydration essentially shrinks the freeway down to one lane during rush hour. This allows all sorts of bad things to happen, like constipation, kidney stones, and the accumulation of bacteria and virus cells.

So grab yourself a covered lid water bottle from tip #1, and drink up!

5. Restrict Sugar

Story time: when I was a newer nurse, I worked on a vascular surgery floor, where basically almost all of my patients had the dreaded triad of diagnoses: high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

One night, I was assigned to a patient who had a bypass in her leg to try to bring blood flow back, but it was infected with gangrene (boy, I am really bringing out all the gross stories today).

When she asked for a (regular) soda, I asked her if she knew she was feeding her infection.

“I’m sorry, what?” – she looked at me like I was crazy.

“Ma’am, bacteria eat sugar. Your leg has a massive open draining infection. Drinking soda is literally providing a buffet feast for your leg, which will prolong the infection and prevent healing.”

Aside from being free food for icky things, sugar also lowers your immune system response to identifying those icky things – which allows them more time to multiply. It is estimated that 100g of sugar (that’s 8 tablespoons) cuts your immune response in half for up to 5 hours.

Does 100g sound like a lot? A 20 oz bottle of Pepsi has 69g.

Want to stay healthy this winter? Make sure your sweets come in the form of whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which contain delicate immune supporting enzymes and Vitamin C.

What Will You Do?

What tips will you be implementing? Did you find this post helpful? If so, let me know in the comments, and be sure to share for future reference!

looking for easy and natural ways to stay healthy this winter? check out these 5 tips!

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