As the optimism of 2015 rushes in, so do renewals of goals. Fitness, health and vibrance are all at the top of everyone’s list. The last thing you need getting in your way of feeling great is a stubborn cold. Is it even possible to skirt around the pesky sniffles and sneezes of the snowy season? How can you stay on track to achieving your feel-good goals of the year?
Here are a few winter wellness tips to help you maintain momentum to the sunny days of spring.
1. Sleep! Get plenty of rest, every night. Most people generally need 6-8 hours of sleep each night. However, in the winter months, when the daylight hours are short and our bodies are working overtime, bump that number to 7-9 hours each night. Your body needs to be well rested to maintain strength and to heal itself.
2. Ditch sugar! You’ve heard this thousands of times. Processed sugar inhibits your body’s ability to fight-off colds and flu. The more sugar you eat, the less effective your immune system will be. Got a real sweet tooth? Add-in roasted root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, and whole fruits daily to help curb cravings for the processed sweets.
3. Get moving! The cold, windy weather makes it very tempting to want to curl-up and wish the winter days away. However, moving your body will actually help boost your immune system. In a 2006 study, researchers found that exercisers developed significantly fewer colds than non-exercisers. The bonus? Everyday activities such as shoveling, vacuuming, cleaning counts as moving!
4. Dark leafy greens are your friends! Add-in greens to give your immune system a jumpstart. Packed with vitamins like A, C, E and K and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron, dark leafy greens are especially super for clearing-up respiratory and sinus symptoms.
5. Find time to “chill.” Stress can be really taxing on your body, making you less efficient to fighting-off germs. A stressed system is more susceptible to illness. So, if you’re a worry-wort, be aware of this and learn to manage some of that stress through breathing exercise, yoga or some type of relaxation.
Make a big batch of this soup and store in the freezer for a cold weather immune boost!
Super Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup
Tip: Use 16 cups of water for a 4- to 5-pound chicken or 12 cups of water for a 3- to 4-pound chicken.
1 whole organic chicken (4 to 5 pounds) 16 cups water 1 medium onion, chopped 3 celery stalks, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 4 to 5 shiitake mushrooms, chopped 1 whole head garlic, cut in half cross-wise 2 to 3 inches fresh ginger, cut into thin slices 2 tablespoons dried astragalus 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped (optional) Soup:
1 medium onion, chopped 3 carrots, sliced 4 celery stalks, chopped 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 large red bell pepper, chopped 2 to 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1 tablespoon sea salt 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes 4 to 5 cups sliced napa cabbage 1 cup chopped cilantro
To start making the soup, add all ingredients for the broth into an 8-quart stockpot, cover, and simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours on low heat.
Place a large colander over another 8-quart pot or large stainless steel bowl. Pour the broth through it to strain out the chicken and vegetables. Place the pot of broth back on the stove. Place the chicken onto a plate to cool. Bring the broth to a boil, add the all of the ingredients for the soup except the napa cabbage and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, pull the meat from the chicken and cut into smaller pieces. Add the chicken to the soup. Once the vegetables are tender, turn off the heat and add the chopped cabbage and cilantro. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if desired.
Yield: about 12 servings
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