By Gabby Pavlovic (Guest Post)
Winter is here!
Along with that comes gloomy weather, dark mornings… and the dreaded colds and sniffles.
To protect you and your family, you can arm yourself with a variety of natural remedies to help combat any winter nasties.
From immunity boosting essential oils to antibacterial honeys, we have some winter wellness tips to help boost your health and wellbeing during these colder months, so let us share these with you.
WINTER WELLNESS TIPS
1. Steam inhalation
Steam inhalation is an effective and easy natural remedy you can do at home to reduce cold or flu symptoms. The steam opens and clears nasal passages, allowing you to feel less congested.
Try adding a few drops of our Breathe Easy Lifestyle Blend to a bowl of hot (not boiling) water. Close your eyes and cover your head with a towel. Lean over the bowl at a comfortable distance (about 20cm). Inhale through your nose for 4 to 5 minutes (you can set a timer) and breathe in deeply.
Bitter receptors in the nose help stimulate production of nitric oxide, a chemical our body makes which activates our immune system and kills harmful bacteria1, so make sure to breathe through your nose!
2. Get a good night's sleep
We all know the difference it makes to our mood, energy, and focus when we sleep well. Similarly, we know how poor sleep can leave us in a slump, but did you know sleep quality and immune function are connected?
Immune function is hugely impacted by sleep, but it also goes the other way, in that immune activation can disrupt our sleep2. It pays to not only focus on getting good quality sleep, but to also arm our immune system with the resources it needs to function properly.
Inhalation of relaxing essential oils like Lavender or our Calming Lifestyle Blend can help aid sleep. One study found a combination of lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils used for four weeks improved sleep quality3. Try adding a few drops of your chosen oil to a diffuser, or add a drop or two to an eye pillow or eye mask.
3. Incorporate Manuka Honey into your diet
Manuka honey is a wonderful immune boosting food largely due to its antimicrobial activity. While honey has been used medicinally for over 2000 years, manuka honey specifically inhibits bacterial growth, mainly due to its high levels of methylglyoxal4. It also stimulates immune cells like macrophages to release microbe-fighting chemicals, thereby reducing infections5.
Try some of our Manuka Bioactive Honey directly to soothe a sore throat, or add it to herbal tea.
4. Drink plenty of fluid
Drinking enough fluids is critical to maintaining hydration, so the volume of water in our body is tightly regulated to ensure all our cells and tissues function optimally. Dehydration may affect our concentrations of white blood cells, particularly when we are physically active6, so to ensure these immune cells can help us fight infection, we need to keep hydrated.
Aim for 2.5 – 3.5 litres of water daily to maintain optimal intake7. Drinking non-caffeinated herbal tea is an excellent way to maintain hydration, and of course if you want that extra electrolyte and immunity boost, add a small amount of Manuka Honey to your cuppa!
5. Diffuse immunity boosting essential oils
We mentioned essential oils can help aid sleep, however there are also immune boosting essential oils to help keep you well throughout cold and flu season.
For example, cinnamon and clove essential oils inhibit growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas (Golden Staph)8, while eucalyptus essential oil stimulates immune cells like macrophages9.
6. Manage your stress levels
In a modern world, many of us experience chronic stress. When stress impacts us continuously, it can suppress immune function10. Therefore, it is hugely important to manage stress effectively to help us deal with our busy lives and to ensure our immune system can look after us when we need it most.
There are countless ways you can manage stress, but here are some suggestions:
- Rhythmic breathing, like 4-7-8 breathing, or you can try an app like Breathwrk
- Practicing mindfulness daily (hint: it doesn’t always have to be in meditation! You can be mindful in anything that you do, as long as you are bringing conscious awareness to it, rather than running on “autopilot”)
- Going for a walk in nature
- Making time for some gentle movement like yoga or Tai Chi
Use these key tips to keep well this winter
Today we have discussed a handful of factors that impact immune function, including some handy tips you can use to keep yours in good shape over winter. Some easy things you can start doing today include:
- Prioritising good quality sleep
- Using essential oils to help you sleep better, de-stress, and enhance your immune function
- Staying hydrated
- Using immune boosting foods like Manuka Honey
- Managing your stress levels
By starting to incorporate some of these tips into your daily life, you can ensure you stay warm and well this winter!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gabby Pavlovic is a Melbourne-based Naturopath and host of the Revitalising Health Podcast. With a background in Evolutionary Biology, Gabby takes an ancestral approach to health which is based on principles of empowerment, regeneration, and connection to nature. She helps busy, stressed high achievers to stop burning out so they can find what they love, do what they love, and excel at life in the process. Gabby believes that building and maintaining a robust connection with the natural world is hugely important, as she acknowledges environmental health and human health are closely intertwined.
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