ALIVE & FIT MAGAZINE Vol.12 Issue 47 Winter 2018: Winter Immunity

Wintertime woes? With my holistic tips, it’s easy to forgo flannel, flu filled hibernation. Boost your immune system naturally and enjoy a fitness fueled crisp cold.


Most of us are no stranger to immune-boosting  vitamin C, but this year, reach for zinc. This all-important mineral is involved in numerous metabolic processes and also essential for the activity of many enzymes. Zinc is well-known for its wound healing capabilities and immune-boosting properties. Zinc deficiency is all too common in those suffering from Chron’s, gum disease and even an under-active thyroid. With food sensitivities, diet restrictions and lifestyle choices, eating shellfish, egg yolks, liver, meat, seeds, nuts and whole grains may not be an option. The whole family can benefit from zinc’s positive wide-range  effects. Look for zinc in tablet form or a tasty immune- loving lozenge.


Dating back to pre-historic times, elderberry remains a popular herbal remedy for escaping the cold and flu season. Hippocrates, known as the Greek father of Medicine considered elderberry or sambucus, it’s Latin name, a “medicine chest”. Elderberry’s deep purple almost black color, is due to an abundance of bioflavanoids. This group of powerful antioxidants prevents cell damage caused by free radicals. One in particular, quercetin, is associated with airways and lungs.  Elderberry equals anti-catarrhal,  making it  perfect for preventing, removing and reducing inflammation in the body. Congestion, runny noses, cold and flu symptoms are magically minimized. With intense immune-boosting benefits, elderberry diminishes the duration of a cold. On a side note, anti-viral elderberry may just do the trick if you suffer from sinus, sciatica or chronic fatigue syndrome. Tea and syrup are great, but I love adding elderberry crystals to juice, yogurt or smoothies for holistic whole family cold combat.


Get excited for echinacea. Indigenous Native Americans favored the potent purple coneflower for addressing a long list of ailments. It was used externally to treat wounds, burns and insect bites. Internally, it was a holistic go-to for pain, cough, stomach cramps and snake bites.   Without a doubt, echinacea is my favorite holistic remedy for squashing so many sick-day symptoms.  Echinacea fights the flu, combats the common cold and helps speed up slow-healing wounds. On top of battling bacterial and viral attacks, it’s a first-class remedy to rectify a sluggish lymphatic system. Whether it’s a  capsule, lozenge, tincture or tea, echinacea is top notch for all things catarrhal.  


Next up is eucalyptus. Native to Australia, its yellowish leaves are derived from the evergreen tree. Eucalyptus globulus contains a chemical called eucalyptol, making it an all-round winter winner. Known for anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, this expectorant loosens mucous, helping relieve nasal and bronchial congestion. Look to lozenges containing eucalyptus at the first sign of a tickle, irritation or cough to stimulate the immune system, and help prevent and provide relief to a throat infection. Adding eucalyptus essential oil to a diffuser is a powerful antiseptic and air purifier. Potent vapors are an energy enhancer, uplifting symptoms of even the most stubborn cold.

By adding just 10-15 drops of eucalyptus oil to a pot of boiling water and, with a covered head,  lean over, deeply draw in eucalyptus-rich vapors. Congestion quickly subsides.

This winter season, say so long to  shoveling soreness. Enjoy the combination of eucalyptus and massage oil, as touch induces warming action, minimizing   muscle pain. Another tip is soaking organic cotton in a mixture of either hot or cold water with eucalyptus essential oil for a comforting compress. Eucalyptus is fast-acting for alleviating aches and pains or helping reduce a fever. A cold sore may be your personal warning sign of a compromised immune system. Applying a mixture of just a few drops of eucalyptus oil and witch hazel to the infection works as a holistic remedy.

Vitamin D

No winter article would be complete without mentioning  vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. In the presence of sunlight, the body is capable of making all it needs, but if you live north of the equator, supplementing  is a must. Age, body mass index over 30 and the darker your skin color all indicate increased needs. Vitamin D is key to a strong immune system, healing a leaky gut, promoting cardiovascular health and preventing cancer. It works to regulate calcium and phosphorus, helping build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Recommended form of vitamin D is cholecalciferol or D3. Keep an eye out for one containing K2, a fermented form of soy which helps move calcium to where the body needs it. Vitamin D is linked to chasing the blues away, helpful during long dark cold winter months.

A sudden plunge in the temperature often means hiding under a blanket, but I’m begging you to bundle up and go play in the snow. Nothing is more magical than snowflake filled snowy nights but longer darker days make reflective add-ons a safety necessity. Running is refreshing but seasonal shoe switching equals slip-free safety. Invest in trail running shoes for deeper traction. Don’t forgo fitness as walking on the white stuff burns more calories.  Removable spikes are an awesome alternative  rather than replacing runners.

Warming winter drinks

Hydration is essential. Winter weather still equals a need for water. Adding electrolytes may be essential to restore balance. Herbal teas are an excellent substitute as a winter activity water accompaniment. Skip  decadent  calorie laden frothy fattening favorites. Swap syrups, whole fat milks and whip cream covered hot chocolate for an exotic elixir. Tumeric and coconut milk soothe the digestive system while decreasing inflammation. Add a holistic twist with a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder to address stress or medicinal  reishi mushroom to target immunity. Focus on warming the body from the inside out with winter wonders like cinnamon.


Cinnamon has been a longtime favorite used in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It just may be the most widely used  undervalued herb out there. Cinnamon’s distinct aroma easily allures, summoning us to indulge in baked sensations.  Boiling cinnamon sticks on the stove is the perfect home fix if Santa didn’t deliver a diffuser this holiday season. Sinful smell of cinnamon is due to cinnamaldehyde.  Cinnamon is a warming digestive and circulatory stimulant. It is also a known carminative, helping relieve nausea and vomiting. This powerful astringent helps stop diarrhea and if that’s not enough, it helps with blood sugar regulation. Cinnamaldehyde is one tough customer and once used to preserve food during the Middle Ages. Today it’s favored for killing illness-causing bacteria. Because of its anti-bacterial strength, it’s a holistic ingredient used for preventing tooth decay and reducing bad breath. It’s a common ingredient in natural toothpastes and gum.  

Keep in mind there are 4 types of cinnamon out there! Look for ceylon, as it contains the least amount of coumarin, a natural substance but is linked to liver damage. Relax! Cinnamon contains forty-one protective compounds and number 7 on the ORAC (a measure of antioxidants) scale. This is one list you want to learn. Cinnamon is synonymous with autumn, winter and all things harvesting. Hibernation-helping cinnamon is a holistic helper to oatmeal, smoothies, roasted root vegetables, tea, coffee grinds and of course the cinnamon bun! Whether you are looking to metabolize glucose, reduce cholesterol or mix with honey for a chemical-free skin mask, cinnamon delivers.

Love yourself inside and out this season. Eat hearty homegrown and local while incorporating lots of nutrient packed root vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes and beets. Get active. Live out loud, loving all seasons.