Here we are in the midst of flu season, with nasty winter in much of the country, and people are sneezing and wheezing all over the place. Even if you don’t work in an office with hundreds of sick co-workers or teach 30 sniffling students all day, you probably do venture out of the house for grocery shopping or movies, or perhaps you need to fly somewhere encased in that metal tube with germ-laden recirculated air.
So how are you going to stay healthy? By pumping up your natural healing ability. Your body is well-equipped with self-repair mechanisms that can fight infections, eliminate toxins, fix broken proteins, destroy cancer cells, and even slow down aging. Every 90 days, your body has a new bloodstream; every year, it manufactures billions of new cells; and every few years, it builds new bones. So let’s help it along! When you give your body what it needs to function optimally, it is happy to keep you healthy despite the multitude of infectious agents bombarding you.
Here are five tried-and-true ways to activate your healing ability so you can help your body do its job:
1. Stop stressing out! I know, I know… you’ve got deadlines and bills and relatives and you have to dig the car out of the snow and you’ve simply got no time to take care of yourself. But if you slow it down and relax, all that changes. This is important because your nervous system is responsible for how your body’s self-repair mechanisms work. Stress raises your heart rate and blood pressure, releases the “stress hormones” of adrenalin and cortisol, and weakens immunity—exactly what you don’t want. When you’re relaxed, you have higher levels of the growth hormone that repairs cells and tissue. So do whatever works for you to relieve stress, whether that’s meditation, exercising, or singing in the shower.
2. Drink lots of water. In a recent Facebook post, author Anne Lamott said, “Drinking more water is the solution to almost all problems.” Well, that may be overstating it a bit, but staying hydrated is vital to health, and that means drinking plenty of high-quality water (not tap water, which is loaded with chemicals). You may not be aware of being dehydrated, but many people are seriously dehydrated! Water is necessary for well-balanced blood composition and for proper functioning on all levels. The rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll want to drink 75 ounces of water a day (around nine 8-ounce glasses). Caffeinated drinks and alcohol don’t count, since they tend to dehydrate you.
3. Get enough sleep. Are you always sleep-deprived? Chronic lack of sleep is linked to colds and flu and a host of other diseases, and even to being overweight. During those hours snuggled under your blankets, your body is quiet and cells are able to do a lot of their repair work. Turn off the TV, computer, tablet, phone, and other electronic devices a good hour before bed. Make sure your bedroom is dark to help regulate your melatonin. And really try to get seven or eight hours of sleep. You’ll know you’re well rested when you wake before the alarm clock goes off in the morning.
4. Eat right. Lots of fresh veggies and fruits, seeds and nuts, beans, healthy oils (avocado, for example), and some low-fat animal protein—all organic if possible. Plant compounds have been found to have antioxidant properties that are important for your health. You might also want to add some Vitamin D3 supplementation, especially during the darker months.
5. Think healthy. Your physical body responds to your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Scientists may call it the “placebo effect,” but I know the mind can cure the body of its ills. If you’re tired all the time, living on Starbucks and chips, and stressed to the max, you are heading the wrong direction. Start by believing you can actually be healthy, and then do what you can to make that a reality.
As someone who healed herself of cancer many years ago, I am very aware of how important it is to believe in your body’s natural healing ability. All you have to do is help it along a bit. Now let’s all go make some soup!