The best way to avoid winter illnesses.
The good news is we will soon transition into spring. The first primroses and daffodils are beginning to brighten road verges and with the longer days and strengthening sun, we can imagine the warmth of spring. But sadly, these liminal times often encourage a surge in colds and flu. Those of us who suffer from allergies will know that this is particularly true, as our immune system is preoccupied fighting off the effects of tree & pollen allergies and is unable to combat a seasonal spike in viruses and bacteria. Temperature swings can be significant as we move into March and a cold snap can dampen our immune system making us vulnerable to infection.
How can we avoid bugs and winter illnesses at this difficult time of year?
Maintaining good general health throughout the year will go a long way to ensure we don’t get sick. If we reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals this will support our immune system and help us to avoid infection.
Reducing our toxic load.
This is essential to good health and coping with infection. Toxins are all around us: in our food and water, clothing, personal care and cleaning products. They include forever chemicals such as PFAS and EDC’s (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) as well as indoor and outdoor pollutants. Here are some important ways to reduce our exposure to toxins:
- All cleaning, personal care and make-up products should be organic certified or as natural as possible minimising synthetic ingredients.
- Eat organic whenever possible. Surveys show that reducing toxins found in pesticides and herbicides and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) has a positive effect on our health – especially our immune system.
- Food should be stored and heated in glass or stainless-steel containers. Even BPA-free containers can contain EDC’s.
- Limit exposure to outside air pollution. Avoid walking or exercising along main roads. Concentrations of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide are higher on main roads.
- Limit exposure to inside air pollution. Regular ventilation is essential – even in winter. Sources of air pollution include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, black mould, dust mites, pet dander and particulate matter.
- Install a water filter. Water filtration removes impurities and dangerous contaminants such as chlorine, disinfection by-products and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. At the same time, water filters ensure that important minerals such as magnesium, fluoride, calcium, and zinc are retained. Water filters can protect you from toxins and ensure that you consume healthy minerals.
- Use only natural air fresheners and perfumes. There is no need to use toxic synthetic products. Synthetic scents often contain phthalates (EDC’s) and as manufacturers are only required to list these chemicals as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on labels, we can easily be misled.
- Use indoor plants to filter indoor air. Carefully chosen indoor plants can extract toxins from the air and support our mental health.
- More exercise. Increasing your exercise, especially in winter can support detoxification and strengthen the immune system.
- Dry skin brushing. Removing the build-up of dead skin cells increases your body’s capacity to eliminate toxins effectively.
- Saunas and steam rooms encourage your body to sweat and remove waste through your skin. Massage can support detoxification by stimulating lymphatic and blood circulation.
Here are some reminders of specific things we can do to avoid winter and spring illnesses:
Practice good hygiene.
- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day with soap and water.
- Carry a sanitiser and use this while you are out.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Don’t share toothbrushes, towels, cutlery or glasses.
- Wash towels and bedlinen at 60 degrees C and use an anti-bacterial/anti-viral essential oil blend to help remove bacteria and viruses, especially if you are drying laundry indoors.
- Wash children’s toys regularly.
- Use a mask if you are around vulnerable people.
Healthy eating & drinking.
- Eat garlic & onions and maximise your intake of organic fruit and vegetables.
- Drink pure filtered tap water.
- Limit alcohol.
Go outside in the morning.
- Morning light (7-10 am) is especially important in regulating our circadian rhythms. The early morning sun is full of UV-A and IR-A (or infrared) lights which are important for health and increasing our Vitamin D levels. At this time of day, sunlight is particularly low in UV-B (or ultra-violet) rays which cause sunburn.