Let’s start with the real truth–there are countless ways to support your immunity through the holiday season but we are all about bit-sized pieces here at MIMC. Today we’re taking some tried and true in addition to some tips you might not expect to hear.
You’re not going to love this one but use the words “no thank you”, “sorry I/we can’t make it” when you need it. We’ve all been there, there’s a holiday gathering or weekend trip and you start to feel not-so-hot… 9 out 10 times we still go. ‘Tis the season and no one wants to miss a thing. Here’s where you really have to dig deep and listen to your gut. Backing out of holiday plans might hurt at the moment but promise in a month, 6 or a year–you aren’t going to be sad about it. This is about shortening the duration of colds and flus and pushing yourself will only perpetuate the virus, likely making it last longer.
Incorporate bone broth (unless of course your vegetarian or vegan–there are some great alternatives). Broths are nutrient dense, warming, easy to digest and have amino acids that can be anti inflammatory. Anything anti inflammatory–we’ll take it!
Think D. Vitamin D, which boosts immune cell production and helps your body to create an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin, which “stops bacteria, microbes and viruses from spreading.
Magic treatment socks anyone? If you didn’t catch Cassie’s recent insta-tip, it’s time to head on over. Should you start feeling under the weather–try this tip! You won’t regret it.
Load up on fluid. You’ve heard this a million times but we’re here to remind you one more time, because by staying hydrated, the communication between immune cells stays up to par and your body can more readily flush out toxins and unwanted invaders.
Reduce stress. Stress can also suppress the immune system, so take time to reset during busy times in your life. Our favorite ways to reduce stress: nidra yoga, short periods of meditation, acupuncture, epsom salt bath, walk, and simply breathing.
Sleep. This corresponds with all of the above. We know that our bodies recover during sleep so it’s no surprise that sleep helps with immune function. Trouble sleeping at night? Try avoiding all electronics for an hour before bedtime. Instead, read a simple book, meditate, stretch…unwind!
And, this is just the beginning. Drop a comment below on your favorite immune boosting go-to’
Hydration is life, right? Yet, we don’t necessarily always get to full hydration even when we feel like we are drinking enough water. Or, for those of you that don’t love water (and there are many), drinking H2O can feel like a part-time job.
But before we get into it all, let’s break down some of the basic facts. For us to function optimally (think organs, muscles, and our favorite–the brain), it’s crucial that we stay well hydrated. Skin, the largest organ of the body, is a great example of where you can see externally more literally–what you can’t see internally.
Signs of mild dehydration can be dizziness, fatigue, flushed skin, headache, constipation and impaired physical performance. Other symptoms of mild dehydration may include dry skin and thirst. If unaddressed, more extreme dehydration can lead to symptoms such as labored breathing, increased body temperature, poor blood circulation, and seizures.
How to stay hydrated
A while back we posted a basic rule for staying hydrated. We all love a simple equation that is easy to remember. If you take your current body weight (roughly–no need to split hairs here) and divide that number in half, that is the amount of ounces you should aim to drink in a day. Here it is played out:
160lbs / 2 = 80. That is 80 ounces of water
[which is 10 cups of water–in the metric sense]
For those that like drinking water, typically this isn’t too challenging to achieve. But for those who don’t love it–we’re here to help. Here are some creative ways to hydrate:
Freeze berries and add them to your water
Make mint (or other herbal) ice cubes and add to water
Soup! This time of year it’s a little harder to get excited but soup contains a lot of water
Treat yourself to a fun water bottle (sometimes it’s the little things!)
Salads! Now we’re talking summer. Remember, veggies have a ton of H2O in them–enjoy!
Electrolytes. These are a crowd favorite at Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center and a great way to get hydration support–especially for endurance, jobs that have you working outside and for any old day to add to your hydration efforts!
Truly proper absorption of water requires a combination of water, fiber, and electrolytes along with movement to help the hydration disperse throughout all the tissue in your body. So, if you feel like you’re drinking water yet not feeling hydrated, try adding a little electrolytes (as easy as a pinch of salt) or some chia seeds to your water and see if that doesn’t help shift the feeling!
The word “exercise” can generate an array of visceral feels–stemming from “LOVING it” all the way to dread, and issues with accessibility. Simply said, it can be a lot. Some of us find it our main way to destress, boost dopamine (our happy hormone), and just love to sweat it out. Others find it overwhelming, not that fun, or something they feel they can’t do properly (due to injuries or the like).
Enter, NEAT exercises. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Aside from the fanciness of this term, it’s actually quite the opposite. NEAT exercises are the activities you already do–this effort encourages you to do MORE of them. These are all activities for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or exercise; and ranges from simple things like standing and fidgeting to moving about.
It might be obvious but the awesome thing about NEAT exercises is you have them right at your fingertips. The best way to get going is to reflect on what you do now and how you can do more of that!
Create a list of your general daily activities.
What do you do in the mornings to get ready for your day?
What happens during the bulk of your day (think 9-5ish)
What do you do in the evenings?
Are you aware of how many hours you spend sitting each day? Perhaps add here – compare your ratio of time spent doing seated versus standing activities (e.g., 70/30%)
Identify problematic areas where you notice time spent in seated positions and think creatively of ways to accomplish these same activities while standing (e.g., texting, talking on the phone). Instead of sitting or laying on the couch talking to a friend, could you lap around the block or your house.
Challenge yourself to a couple of these new ideas, starting with things you feel confident in accomplishing.
Evaluate your experiences, but don’t force things you don’t like. If you enjoyed the experience and feel confident–you can do it again. Attempt that same challenge every day for the next week (finite challenge).
As little as 100 calories each day translates to approximately 10½ lbs. lost in a year; 200 calories equals the loss of 21 lbs.
Some of our favorite ways to “get NEAT” are:
Taking the stairs vs elevator
Parking farther away from the door
Mowing the lawn
Walking and talking
… and more
Even more great news–that’s it. It’s so simple it feels like we are missing something…
We love a “playlist” over here and sure hope you feel the same. Whether it’s music, Netflix/Hulu shows, or podcasts–give us a list and we’re in.
This week we thought it would be fun to ask around the MIMC office and see what podcasts the team has been listening to lately. Some of our playlist is specific episodes as well as a more general rolling list of podcasts that we holistically enjoy!
Bossed Up | Professional development for women! Topics such as asking for a raise, charting a career path, interviewing, pivoting careers, and more.
The Ressetter Podcast | Learn how to support your body’s natural ability to heal with health expert Dr. Mindy Pelz as she interviews professionals on a fasting lifestyle, nutrition, ketogenic diet, anti-aging science, hormones, biohacking, supplements, heavy metal detoxing, testing, microbiome, gut repair, and more
Food Psych Podcast with Chrissy Harrison | Helping people make peace with food since 2013. Registered dietitian nutritionist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and journalist Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CEDS talks with guests and answers listener questions about making peace with food,
Maintenance Phase |Debunking the junk science behind health fads, wellness scams and nonsensical nutrition advice.
And, we’re just getting started! To “wrap” up (you know, Spotify wrapped 😉)–we created an actual playlist for YOU right here. We’ll keep adding as we find more gems!
Did you know that the word “yoga” means “to connect”? You may practice yoga to connect the world around you. Or perhaps you practice yoga to connect deeper to your soul or inner self. Or it might be about connection to your friends and loved ones that you practice with!
But most often, yoga is about connecting your brain to your physical body. When you’re feeling under the weather due to illness, fatigue, or stress, connecting to the body can be challenging; however, a few simple yoga poses with a designated purpose can encourage you to feel like yourself again and bring the brain-body connection back in alignment. Check out these gentle and effective poses below.
To Relax: Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This is a great pose to take before bed on any night. Start by sitting on your seat. Extend your legs long out in front of you and lie on your back. Bring your legs straight up into the air by bending at the waist. Keep your upper body relaxed on the ground.
Straighten your legs as much as feels comfortable. For more support, place a blanket or small pillow underneath your sacrum.
You might also find a nearby wall and climb your legs up the wall to rest. Your seat will need to be very close to the wall to allow for straight legs.
Stay here for several minutes to allow the benefits of relaxation and restoration.
To Detoxify: Supine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Twists aid in digestion, stretch the muscles in the back and support the natural range of motion in the spine.
Start by lying on your back. Inhale and draw your right leg into your chest. Exhale and gently cross your right leg across your left side body while your left leg remains extended long.
Reach your right arm out to the right and bring your gaze to the right. Allow for natural ease into this pose rather than forcing yourself into a deep twist. Stay here for a few minutes and then switch to the other side.
For a gentler version, keep your knees bent and together. Skip this pose altogether if you’re pregnant.
To Open Your Heart to Healing: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge pose benefits include opening of the heart, chest and hip flexors; stress alleviation; and stimulation of the lungs and thyroid.
Start by lying on your back. On an inhale, bend your knees and place your heels close to your seat. Rest your hands at your side and bring your gaze up to the sky.
On an exhale, lift your hips off the mat and track your knees in line with your hips. Open your chest, throat, and heart space up towards the sky.
For a deeper opening, interlace your hands underneath your back. For a restorative option, place a yoga block or stack of pillows underneath your pelvis to rest on. Hold as long as you feel comfortable.
Avoid this pose immediately before bed, as it can be stimulating.
To Calm Your Nervous System: Seated Forward Fold (Pashchimottanasana)
Have a seat with your legs extended long out in front of you. On an inhale, reach your arms over your head. On the exhale, bend at your waist and grasp your feet. Gently bend your knees to allow for a straight spine. Rest your gaze down and release any tension from your neck.
Pregnant mamas can open their legs wider to allow for the belly to rest forward.
Remain here for several breath cycles to reap the benefits of stress reduction; spine, shoulders, and hamstring stretch; and stimulation of the digestive system.
To Cultivate Energy: Crouch and Curl (Pictured in First Image)
Benefits of this pose include back and feet muscle stretch and strengthening, increased breath capacity, and energy stimulation.
Start by standing with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Bend your knees until your seat hovers over the ground. Tent your fingers on the ground in front of you to hold you steady. Lift your heels off the ground toward your seat.
Take a deep breath and fill up your lungs so that your back muscles stretch. Exhale and repeat.
Challenge yourself to take bigger breaths than you’re used to to stretch your back and allow for extra oxygen to fill your body.
Ashley Sondergaard is a yoga teacher, an entrepreneur and host of the Yoga Magic podcast. For 8 years, she has studied yoga, meditation, astrology and mindfulness practices that prioritize self-care and self-discovery. After having her two girls, Ashley discovered the hard way that taking care of yourself first is the only way to take care of others. Today, she supports her students & clients in up leveling their everyday routines into magical self-care rituals. Learn more about Ashley at www.ashleysondergaard.com or on Instagram @ashleysondergaard.yoga and @yogamagicpodcast.