After the holidays end, we are often left sitting with tinsel in our hair, an extra ten pounds or so, in a pile of ribbon, with full bellies and fuller hearts. While it can be the most joyous time of the year, all the sugar and carbs can take a toll on our bodies. Being around all that family; and the hugs, kisses and the little ones who cough directly into your mouth without warning, is especially taxing on our immune systems. Between that and flu season, we thought it would be especially important to focus on the ways to strengthen your immune system, especially the healing power of the foods we eat.
While most people reach for certain foods to solve certain problems (i.e. orange juice for a cold), keep in mind preventive care is a better option. Think of it like deodorant: It’s helpful after you need it, but you need less if you get ahead of the problem. Arm your body to fight sickness before it takes hold.
Often our go-to when we are sick is Vitamin C, but do you know why it works? Vitamin C increases your white blood cell count, which helps fight infection in the body. Citrus fruits (such as grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and clementines) are excellent sources of this super vitamin, but it is found in lots of other foods as well. Other excellent sources of Vitamin C are spinach, red bell peppers, broccoli, papaya and kiwi. Keep in mind our body does not produce or store Vitamin C, so integrating it into your daily diet is crucial during sick season.
While papaya has 224% of our daily recommended dose of vitamin C (take that, oranges!), it also has lots of other health benefits. They have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects and helps gut health. Papayas also have decent amount of potassium, B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.
Vitamin E is also crucial in immune system health. It is a powerful antioxidant and helps regulate the immune system. Sunflower seeds are full of this powerhouse, with a whopping 82% of your daily recommendation in just a quarter cup serving! As many of us are not often on a baseball field in the middle of January, and spitting shells in your kitchen floor is frowned upon by most, unshelled sunflower seeds are excellent on a salad, and can give it a nice crunch! Almonds, avocados and dark leafy greens are also full of Vitamin E.
Zinc is also extremely important when it comes to immune system health. While it isn’t most people’s go-to when they are sick, shellfish can be an excellent source of zinc. Crab, mussels, clams and lobster can help kick that cold. Legumes like chickpeas and beans, eggs and seeds can also boost your zinc intake. So next time you’re sick, slap on a bib and break out the butter! In the name of health, of course.
Some things to avoid if you’re feeling under the weather are gluten, red meat, dairy products, eggs and caffeine. While these may see obvious, some fruits and vegetables can have harming effects as well, such as night shade vegetables. Night shade vegetables are very common in most foods we eat and include: white potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, eggplant, cayenne pepper, paprika, goji berries and tobacco.
If you are more interested in learning about the foods you eat being a healing tool, Dr. Andrew Weil is a well respected expert on the topic. He has countless books on the subject, with several books on specific ailments.
We also have several ways to detox your body here at Indigo Salon and Wellness. Comfort Zone, our skin care line, has a detoxifying night mask from skin regimen, designed to eliminate your skin of metabolic waste . It fills your skin with superfood extracts including wild indigo, maqui berry & spinach. We also offer ionic foot detoxes, in which your feet are paced in water with an ionizer that sends electric impulses through your body and stimulate cells to remove impurities at a cellular level. Based on the colors that your water produces during the 30 minute process, you can see what systems of the body are holding the most toxins.
Massage can be an excellent tool to rid your body of toxins that you hold deep in your muscular tissue. As an added benefit at Indigo, we use healing crystals in many of our massages, such as snowflake obsidian, smokey quartz, and the ultimate purification stone: clean quartz. We also retail these stones, so you can cleanse at home in a bath, or simply keep them on you as pocket stones.
As always, the more water you drink, the more quickly your bodies natural filtration systems are able to move all impurities out of the body, so don’t forget about those fluids! Love and light to you. And be well, my friends.