Immune boosters for body and soul
The holidays are here and so is winter, bringing with it freezing temperatures, cold winds and snow—coughs, sneezes, runny noses, colds and flu. Even if you have gotten your flu shot, it is still wise to fortify your fortress—your immune system—against unwanted visitors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that during most flu seasons in the United States, an estimated 90% of flu-related deaths and 50% to 60% of flu-related illnesses occur in people aged 65 or older. Here are some immune boosters for seniors from handwashing to essential oils to fortify your body.
Wash your hands
One of the most important ways to stay healthy during the holiday season is to wash your hands often. Washing hands helps to control infection and thus prevent sickness and the spreading of germs to others. Many respiratory illnesses, such as the flu and cold, that occur particularly during this time of year can be spread by not washing hands. Hands should be washed preferably with soap and clean running water. If you are unable to wash hands, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
According to the Center for Disease Control, you should wash your hands:-
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food [or taking medications]
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and dry them on a clean towel or air dry them.
It is important to remember to wash your hands often. One study found that older adults, despite barriers such as a lack of mobility, managed and washed their hands four to five times a day when they received personalized pre-recorded prompts compared to a control group who did not. They washed their hands an average of one to two times a day. Here is one significant way technology can help to improve lives.
Supplement with vitamin D
Along with coughing and sneezing, winter brings with it less sun. Less sun means less vitamin D, especially without supplementation. Vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin because the sun makes it. Vitamin D plays a key role in immune cells. It regulates the innate and adaptive immune responses to help fight off infections. For this reason, it is an immune booster supplement. A 2017 study showed vitamin D supplementation protected against acute respiratory tract infection; those who were vitamin D deficient and who weren’t receiving large doses benefited the most.
Vitamin D is found in salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Cheese and egg yolks contain some vitamin D. Food fortified with vitamin D are milk, orange juice and yogurt.
Consume immune-booster foods
Though supplementation is good, the actual dietary sources of food are far more effective. Fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants such as blueberries and vitamin C- rich citrus, broccoli and spinach are popular immune booster foods. But foods such as radishes, onions and garlic are natural immune fighters too.
Radishes have antibacterial characteristics that help disinfect the upper respiratory tract; it relieves bronchial spasms and loosens phlegm. The sulfurous mustard-oil glycosides in the radish give the plant its spicy pungency and respiratory effects. Eating raw, grated radish or drinking radish juice puts the vegetable’s antibacterial effects to work on the lungs and throat.
Onions have been used as a remedy to treat colds and extremely dry coughs. It is considered a natural antibiotic against parasites and bacteria. Red and yellow onions have a rich source of quercetin—a potent antioxidant. Onions may aggravate heartburn or promote gas in some individuals who are sensitive to them.
Garlic is a “potent disinfectant and a good defense for killing germs in the body” according to The Complete Guide of Natural Healing. Garlic loses its antibacterial effect when cooked; so try to eat it raw, such as in salads or juices. Mince finely to make it more palatable.
Also, try these teas, which are excellent for fighting respiratory infections.
Use immune-booster essential oils
Essential oils communicate with the psyche. They stimulate, relax, stabilize and bring harmony. Lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils can be used not only to combat respiratory-related illnesses but also to strengthen the immune system and to enhance well-being.
Lemon oil is a natural air purifier. During the winter months, indoor air can become stale. Because of lemon oil’s strong antiseptic and germicidal effect, it is helpful for purifying the air.
Peppermint oil soothes respiratory infections, aids in circulation and fights inflammation.
Eucalyptus oil helps to improve respiratory conditions, relieves coughs, cleans the air and helps to boost the immune system.
Try this natural air purifier with a diffuser:
8 drops lemon oil
1 drop peppermint oil
2 drops eucalyptus oil
The dry cold weather and the heating systems can cause the air in homes to become extremely dry causing germs to spread.
If you use a humidifier, try adding an essential oil to it.
N.B. Not all humidifiers can take essential oils. Make sure your humidifier allows it.
Practice good hygiene, eat healthily, supplement if necessary, breathe and enjoy the fresh smells of mother nature for a healthy body and soul this holiday season.