These Might Be The Best Immune-Boosting, Cold-Busting Tips We’ve Ever Heard

These Might Be The Best Immune-Boosting, Cold-Busting Tips We’ve Ever Heard

This article was originally published on MindBodyGreen.

Cold season has hit with a vengeance, and the vicious virus can sometimes seem impossible to avoid, with snifflers and sneezers on the subway, in line next to you while you get your coffee, and leaving their dirty tissues around the office kitchen. While you can’t avoid germs (they’re everywhere!), you can do a lot to bolster your immune system to fight off whatever comes your way. We partnered with Wholesome™ Organic Honey to ask some of the country’s top wellness experts for their best immune-boosting tips:

1. Fill up on probiotics.

My first line of defense is probiotics—both supplements and whole foods. There are several beneficial effects of probiotics as a form of defense. They block the bacterial pathogenic effects and compete with pathogens and toxins for their space in the intestinal wall. Most importantly, they modulate (actually change) the immune system in efforts to strengthen our “good bacteria.” I aim to take a probiotic daily but also to get in AT LEAST one probiotic-rich food such as tempeh, sauerkraut, and miso. In the colder months, you can find me eating a lot of soup. Instead of using traditional veggie broth, I use miso, which not only brings in important probiotics but adds a delicious unexpected flavor.

—Lisa Hayim, R.D., founder of The Well Necessities

2. Make an immune-boosting tonic.


Whenever I feel a tickle in my throat, I mix together a tonic consisting of hot water, a splash of apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp. turmeric, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, a crack of black pepper, and a spoonful of Wholesome Organic Honey. I love that Wholesome is always completely pesticide-free, which is hard to control with local honey—the Wholesome honey hives are located deep in the Amazon, so the bees can’t get near pesticide-laden plants. The combination is not only warming and soothing but is antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. Word to the wise: be wary of giving this tonic to infants younger than a year old. Babies don’t have a well developed immune system to fight off some of the live properties in honey.

—Katie Lemons, founder of Twist of Lemons

3. Take your supplements.

The second I start to feel a cold or sore throat coming on, I start loading up on immune-boosting herbs, foods, and vitamins to activate my immune system to help my body fight it off. My go-to supplements are high doses of vitamin C and zinc, and oil of oregano. I also take raw garlic, either in my food or you can swallow an unwrapped clove like a pill. Garlic is incredibly antiviral and antibacterial; studies have shown it’s just as powerful as antibiotics for fighting off bacteria. Please note: I am not saying replace your antibiotics with garlic—if you are dealing with life-threatening bacteria, be smart about it and know when to take the antibiotics!

—Courtney Swan, M.S., founder of Realfoodology

4. Turn your favorite foods into cold-fighters.

Honey has amazing nutritional qualities. It is full of antioxidants and also contains powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Honey is so powerful in keeping us healthy because of an enzyme within honey that is believed to produce hydrogen peroxide. In the body, this enzyme fights against the “trespassers,” also known as pathogens and infections, and it inhibits the growth of bacteria as it enters the body. Adding honey to some of your favorite dishes can help to ward off burdensome colds, sore throats, and allergies. Because the heat may affect the enzyme, I will use honey after the cooking process, to finish off a dish or as part of a dressing. My favorite fall dish is roasted Brussels sprouts in a spicy hot sauce, drizzled with Wholesome Organic Honey.

I am also fond of using honey as the base for my salad dressings, like a homemade honey mustard, which can be made in a minute, contains no preservatives, and can help balance a normally bitter kale salad (also rich in vitamin C!).

—Lisa Hayim, R.D., founder of The Well Necessities

5. Keep your gut health in check.


When cold and flu season starts to spread, it’s also important to make sure your gut health is in check. It’s known that 80 percent of the immune system lies within the gut, which is why it’s crucial to supply it with what it needs to thrive. To do this, make it a point to eat plenty of colorful vegetables, for they are a rich source of phytonutrients. Consume a quality probiotic supplement on a regular schedule (same time every day) to provide a range of health benefits, such as improved digestion, immune-boosting benefits and the ability to fight foodborne illnesses, and drink adequate fluids. As of a few years ago, organic honey has become part of my immune-boosting arsenal during the winter months. I prefer to stick to organic, fair-trade, non-GMO honey that’s free of harmful chemicals and pesticides, and I know I’m getting that with Wholesome Organic Honey. Organic honey contains microbial properties and is known to boost overall immunity. I’ll typically add a spoonful to my daily cup of tea.

—Rachael DeVaux, R.D., founder of Rachael’s Good Eats

6. Fill up on bone broth.

There is real nutritional science behind the healing ancient tradition of consuming chicken soup when sick (if it’s made with real, organic, pasture-raised bones). Bone broth is high in collagen along with the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are stored in bones, which simmer into the soup, providing a nutritious base. Add a little garlic and ginger to it, and you have a recipe for a super-nutritious and healing soup! If you start to incorporate these immune activators quickly enough you can sometimes avoid getting sick altogether, and if you do, it’ll certainly be less severe.

—Courtney Swan, M.S., founder of Realfoodology

7. Eat some algae!

I love seaweed and spirulina specifically. Just a small amount of spirulina can help increase the production of antibodies so that our body can better protect itself against invading microorganisms. Spirulina specifically stimulates the T and B cells, which are the natural immune cells. It also helps organs function despite toxins and germs that enter.

—Lisa Hayim, R.D., founder of The Well Necessities

Will Sleep Help Us Better Solve the World’s Problems?

Will Sleep Help Us Better Solve the World’s Problems?

This article was originally published on Thrive Global.

So here’s the big idea I think will shape 2017: sleep. That’s right, sleep! How much and how well we sleep in the coming year — and the years to follow — will determine, in no small measure, our ability to address and solve the problems we’re facing as individuals and as a society.

While our need for sleep has been a constant throughout human history, our relationship to sleep has changed throughout the centuries. And right now, we’re in the middle of a sleep deprivation crisis, with devastating effects on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.

In 1942, only 11 percent of us were getting by on less than six hours of sleep per night. Today, 40 percent of us get less than six hours (which is probably one of the reasons for the roughly 60 million prescriptions written every year for sleeping pills). And the toll is high — Sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy an estimated $63 billion each year. Unfortunately, the costs don’t stop there. In the U.S., drowsy drivers are involved in 328,000 accidents each year, 6,400 of which are fatal.

What we need is nothing short of a sleep revolution. And the good news is, there is evidence all around us that this revolution is actually in its early stages, with the potential to reach new heights very soon.

In every industry and sector of society — in business, in schools, in medicine, in sports, in the arts — more and more people are recognizing the importance of sleep.

Even in finance, the boiler-room of burnout, change is coming. For example, Goldman Sachs has banned interns from staying in the office overnight. And it’s coming from the top: Business leaders including Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini have all spoken out about how they prioritize sleep.

Those at the leading edge of the sports world have discovered that sleep is the ultimate performance-enhancing drug, with only positive side effects. Roger Federer says that if he doesn’t get enough sleep, he’s just not right on the court. Even the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, knows the value of slowing down. “Sleep is extremely important to me,” he says. “I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.” And more and more professional teams, in every major sport, are employing sleep experts.

Technology, of course, is a big part of both sides of this story.

From our incessant work demands to being physically tethered to our blue-light emitting, melatonin-suppressing devices, we’re all familiar with how technology can make it harder to sleep. But the answer to the challenges of technology isn’t no technology, it’s better technology. So we’re seeing the emergence of technology that serves us instead the other way around: wearable technology, smart devices, “the internet of things  — technology that, instead of telling us about our world, tells us about ourselves.

Sleep allows us to connect with a deeper part of ourselves. Because when we’re asleep, all the things that define our identity when we’re awake — our jobs, our relationships, our hopes, our emotions — are quieted. And this makes possible one of the least-discussed benefits of sleep — a small miracle really — and that’s the way it allows us, once we return from our night’s journey, to see the world anew with fresh eyes and a reinvigorated spirit . Sleep allows us to step out of time and come back to our lives restored.

After my own collapse from sleep deprivation, I became an all-out sleep evangelist. And sleep became a key part of HuffPost’s DNA. We launched our dedicated sleep section in 2007 and recently partnered with Sleep Number on a sponsored section, Sleep + Wellness, furthering the conversation on sleep as a public health issue and all the ways it can enhance our lives.

I’m confident this will be the year when we collectively renew our relationship with sleep — in all its mystery and all its fullness.

Direction Is Everything

Direction Is Everything

Small steps create exceptional results despite seeming meaningless. Do you know their secret of success?

They enable you to effortlessly change your direction.

People most often look at the size of their actions (or intended actions), but the direction you’re currently headed in is far more important than that—so much so that if you only thought about your direction and pivoted when necessary, you’d do very well in life.

  • When you’re on the couch watching TV, you’re pointed towards more mindless relaxation.
  • When you’re lying in bed, you’re pointed toward sleeping more.

Now let’s say you wanted to change activities in those two examples:

  • On the couch watching TV, you could either:
    • Consider the logistics of going for a run
    • Get up and put on your running shorts
  • In bed, you could either:
    • Think about your day ahead and wonder if you need to get up
    • Roll off the bed

In each case, the latter actions are superior because they are fast and easy to do and they change your direction. Once your direction changes, so does your most likely path moving forward. The first options in the examples above were all thoughts, and the reason we do that so much is out of habit; a sort of “check” against our best judgment.

Should I really get up now? I might benefit from more sleep.

I’m not sure I should run today as it might rain.

The problem with doing this is that you play right into your old habits; you cede control to your subconscious. Being that our subconscious already has preferences that are usually counter to our goals, it’s inherently dangerous to “consult with yourself” for each small decision. You’ll think you’re making a smart decision, when your subconscious is actually causing you to justify inaction. When you know a decision is obviously healthy, it’s best to turn your brain off.

I don’t mean to make the subconscious seem like our enemy—it’s a vital part of us—it is merely the enemy of change. The subconscious thirsts for stasis. It wants the proven actions and rewards that it’s already most comfortable with. When you have a healthy running habit, this is a huge benefit! When you have a procrastination or laziness habit you want to change, it’s a flat out war with your own brain!

Challenge: Think In Terms Of Direction Today

Today, I want you to think less about what you want/need to do and think more about changing direction into a better place. Anytime you feel stuck, think about quick and easy actions you can take to change your direction. If you’re motionless, you don’t have a direction (or your “direction” is to stay put); all you have to do is get up and you’ve already changed your direction.

Earlier, I mentioned how the subconscious can manipulate our desires into wanting to live the way it wants, but it can’t manipulate you when all you’re doing is changing direction. Small direction changes are not significant enough to argue against.

People think that mini habits are all about small steps, but the underlying concept is practicing direction change. Having a mini habit means you’re pivoting and changing direction into a healthy behavior at least once a day. This explains how a mini habit can be too small because the action has to be big enough to change your current direction. One push-up is big enough because it puts you in push-up position on the ground. Writing one word is NOT enough because it can be done in a flash without thought (but my 50 word mini habit works great to point me in the direction of writing more!).

Experiment: Hand Someone A Dead Leaf

One of my favorite things to do is hand people things for no reason. I know I’m weird. Try it though!

Pick up a dead leaf from the ground, extend your hand toward someone like you want them to take it, and they will probably take the leaf from you (with a confused look on their face). This is a funny demonstration of how the brain likes to “complete” processes. People have been handed things thousands of times in their lives, so when you extend your hand, part of their brain instinctively wants to complete the transaction, even without a good reason (and even though they’re super confused about it).

In the same way, when you point yourself in a healthier direction with a small step, you activate your brain’s bias to take further steps in that direction. It feels weird for me to only do one push-up because I have a habit fragment of doing at least 5-10 push-ups; it’s activated once I’m in push-up position. Take heed, for this concept of direction change is effective and applicable across all areas of your life:

  • When you’re mad and arguing, a small apology or comment can change the trajectory of your conversation
  • When you’re feeling lazy on the couch, pushing the leg rest down can be the start of doing something active
  • When you’re in line and feeling impatient, saying hi to the person in front of you or thinking about how lucky you are to be at Chipotle can change your mood and ripple beneficially throughout your day (seriously though, I waited 30 minutes for a burrito bowl)
  • When you don’t know what to write, forcing out one sentence can get you started

If you can change your direction at will, you can do amazing things in your life.

This post was written by Stephen Guise at You can see the original post here.