This feels like the winter that will never end. In Ontario, we have been blasted with lots of snow, extreme cold and even a huge ice storm. I know this is Canada, but a few mild days would be nice. Along with this cold, January brings illness. For whatever reason, January means flus, colds and general malaise. Especially if you have kids, you know many productive days are lost to sick days - both yours and theirs. If you are desperate, or if you are preventative, read this article to realize a few ways you can boost your immune system and not spend too much money in the process.
Diet & Exercise
These really go without saying, as a good diet and exercise keeps you healthy, boosting your immune system and hopefully staving off sickness. The great thing is that eating healthy and exercising can be done for free. I've seen a few articles just on Bargainmoose about how to exercise for free or cheaply and how to reduce your grocery budget, even eating healthily. But, there is a caveat. When I take a break from the gym and start back again, I always, always get sick after the first few weeks back. My boot camp trainer that this is a common occurrence, as your body is trying to process all the toxins. This article from RMAX International explains why. What you can do is to not take breaks from exercise by trying to fit it in whenever you can, even over the busy holidays. As well, use your own towel at the gym and wipe down the equipment before you use it, as the person before you may have added some germs to your workout.
Again, this one seems like a no-brainer. Get the adequate amount of rest to keep your body running as smoothly as possible. Shut down all electronics an hour before you go to sleep, don't eat after dinner and write down everything that is troubling you in a notebook so you get it out of your brain. Sleep is completely free, so you really have no excuse. Check out the Help Guide for tips on how to get a better night's sleep.
This year my family and I started taking oregano oil when we start to feel under the weather. Huffington Post tells you what you need to know about oregano oil's anti-sickness properties. The cheapest place I found oregano oil is VitaShop for only $9.99, but it really lasts for a long time since you only need a few drops at a time.
Remember being sick as a child and having your mom bring you a cup of homemade chicken soup and you suddenly felt so much better? That wasn't a placebo, soup really can help build your immune system and make you feel better when you are sick. Doctor Oz has three recipes for soups that boost immune systems, detoxify and give you warming energy.
I'm not talking about that sugar-laden ginger ale you think you should drink when you are sick. Steep a tea of ginger to relieve a huge litany of ailments and to boost your immune system. Ginger has been found to help with killing bacteria, being a natural antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, congestion eliminator, inhibit cancer cells and so much more. Ginger is no longer just for nausea and you'd be hard-pressed not to use it everyday with what it can do. Boost Immune System Naturallylists everything this wonder ingredient can do. Ginger is so cheap too, with one little knob being less than $1.
In our northern climate, we don't get adequate vitamin D in the winter, and this can really wreak havoc on our bodies. A simple supplement of vitamin D can help and Science Daily says they are an effective and cheap way to boost your immune system. An easy solution is to buy foods already supplemented with the vitamin, which may be the same price as those that are not. I've seen milk and orange juice both with added vitamin D. If you can't find these or don't like the taste, try a supplement, which are sold at Supplements Canada for only $8.99 for 120 tablets.
Hot & Cold showers
Every season, I try to get to my favourite spa, the Scandinave spa at Blue Mountain. Here I sit on a hot pool, steam room or sauna until I'm cooking, then do a very frigid dip in the cold pool, then relax for 15-20 minutes to get my body back to the right temperature. This process is amazing for the immune system and you don't need to spend $100 at WaySpa (but you can if you like!) to get the benefits. Simply have a hot shower, then for the last few seconds (up to a minute, but as long as you can last), turn the water on cold and rinse. It might be a little unbearable, but I always get this "I'm alive!" feeling afterwards. Health Communities has the full explanation of why hydrotherapy works and the other ailments it improves.
Bargainmoosers, what tactics do you try to boost your immune system during these long, dreary winter months?
Photo credit for banner: NIAID