It’s that time of the year: sneezing, coughing, stuffy head, “I don’t want to get out of bed” time!
One of the most frequently asked questions in and around fitness is, “Should I workout when I am sick?”. My short answer is nope. However, there is definitely more to that question. While exercising when we’re sick may help us feel better at the moment, it hardly helps us slow down to see the bigger picture of our health. Our ultimate job in sickness should be to learn and grow from the setback, and examine what really is the real culprit behind the sickness – not to cover up the actual cause with a bandaid. Things to consider:
Could it be stress?
Have you had difficulty getting quality sleep?
Are you run down from a crazy workload at work?
Step 1 – Determine how “sick” you really are.
Above the Neck Check
✅ If your symptoms are above the neck – sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, etc – then it’s probably ok to workout. Use your better judgement here. If you feel like you can hold a conversation while walking at a brisk pace, you’d get a pass from me.
❌ If you’re feeling lethargic, your muscles ache, have a fever and/or haven’t been sleeping then you need to REST.
- Rest is VITAL to your recovery for any type of illness really. Think about it this way: When you have a cold, your body is using all of its resources to fight the bad bugs and toxins. So when you throw in an intense workout, now your body shifts most of it’s focus and energy to muscle recovery.
- I highly discourage you from going beast-mode or taking on a metabolically draining workout just because you think you can “sweat it out”. Intense physically activity will likely only suppress your immunity and can cause additional stress to your body.
- If you absolutely MUST get in a workout, I’d suggest activities that allow for mindfulness, stretching and pure aerobic activity.
- Any physical activity IF AT ALL should be performed at a slow and leisure pace.
Step 2 – Reduce your Stress
Most of us are burning the candle at both ends. Because we live in a fast-paced society, we are constantly in GO-GO-GO mode, we aren’t getting a sufficient amount or sleep and few will actually stay on track with healthy food choices. I get it. Life is happening and you’re just trying to keep up with the demands of school, a heavy work load or ya know… family. With all things considered, you’re bound to crash n’ burn at some point or another.
- SLOW DOWN and take at least ONE thing off your plate. You have a choice to continue feeling like crap or to take ownership of your health.
- SLEEP like your life depending on it. No sleep = No recovery.
- SELF CARE is crucial. If you don’t help yourself, then how can you help anyone else? A major component of self care is eating right! So READ ON!
Step 3 – Eat Vitamin-Rich Foods
These are the Michael Jordan’s of the food world. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which minimize the cell damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
🔹Organic Bone Broth
Bone both is packed with protein and powerful amino acids that support gut health and detoxification. It also contains beneficial minerals, including potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium. Helps improve joint health, reduces cellulite and boosts your immune system.
Try these: Kettle & Fire, Bare Bones or Home-made Bone Broth
🔹The Berry Family
Wild blueberries rank number 1 in antioxidants. Just one cup has 13,427 total antioxidants. That’s about 10 times the USDA’s recommendation, in just one cup!
Strawberries and raspberries are also a great source of vitamin C, which protects your body’s cells from free radical damage.
In a perfect world, green leafy vegetables would taste delicious and easy to consume. But when you’re down and out, it’s almost physically impossible to get in leafy green vegetables and organic fruits. Why? Because you don’t crave them nor do you have the appetite for them. So a simple solution is a “Super Greens” supplement powder. If you’re purchase a powder, look for these nutrient packed ingredients: chlorella and spirulina
Check out this TOP 10 list for Best Greens Supplements of 2018
Wild caught Salmon, Sardines and Mackeral are all amazingly high in omega 3s. So not only do they have the ability to fight colds, but they can help reduce inflammation. In a placebo-controlled 2011 study published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, medical students who took fish oil supplements for three months had lower inflammation levels and also fewer symptoms of anxiety — which is a condition that can itself weaken immune function.
Try my Blackened Salmon Tostadas
🔹Oil of Oregano
Oregano is an outstanding health-promoting herb that has been used for thousands of years. It is well-known its antioxidants, microbial-balancing benefits and overall support for a healthy immune system. Note – Oil of Oregano comes in the form of a liquid extract which is very potent, so you will definitely need to dilute it with water, fresh orange juice or an “Emergen C” tablet. It also comes in capsule form which is much more tolerable.
Step 4 – Sip on Herbal Teas
🍵 Green Tea, Peppermint Tea, Ginger Tea, Echinacea Tea
With one sip of tea, you get two potent phytochemicals — anthocyanin and pro anthocyanin. Both are antioxidants that help fight inflammation. And if you are sensitive to small amounts of caffeine, decaf is an option.
Try this non-alcoholic “Hot Toddy Tea”:
- 1 cup water, 1 green tea bag, 1 tablespoon manuka unfiltered honey, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, dash of cinnamon. Directions: Place the tea bag in a large microwave safe mug with 1 cup of very hot water (not boiling). Add the honey. Then stir in the lemon juice and cinnamon.
Step 5 – Protect your Gut
You probably know a good amount about probiotics because it’s something we always hear we should consume for good health. But do you know exactly why you should take probiotics? Well, there are many reasons. The benefits of probiotics range:
- they can have a positive effect on your gut’s microbiome and immune system
- they keep your gut happy by fighting pathogens and yeast that lead to a weak immune system
- they aid in digestion by extracting nutrients from food, helping your body absorb minerals and vitamins
Because every gut microbiome is different from the next, it’s difficult deciding what will work best for you. So I suggest you check out this article.
I’ve had success with RAW supplements such as these: Raw Probiotics Women (They also offer kid-friendly probiotics: Raw Probiotics Kids Digestive Powder)
🔸Prebiotics – the much less talked about fibrous cousin of Probiotics.
Think of old school Pac-Man as he makes his way around the maze eating all the dots. Pac-Man is the Probiotic and the maze dots are the Prebiotic. So essentially, Prebiotics act as the food for Probiotics. They are found in undigestible plant fibers that feed our good bacteria (we want good gut bugs).
Prebiotics foods include chicory root fiber, dandelion greens, raw Jerusalem artichoke (not the regular artichoke), garlic, raw or cooked onions, asparagus, jicama root, whole oats, apples and cocoa. Because foods are altered in the cooking process, the fiber and nutrient content can be compromised. So it’s best to eat most of these foods raw.
But if these foods don’t tickle your taste buds, prebiotics are also available as a supplement:
Just check out these top-ranked prebiotics by BodyNutrition (Certified Nutrionalists and research backed)
Step 6 – See Ya Sugar, Junk, Caffeine & Alcohol
- Steer clear of sugar. Studies show that refined sugars and processed fats can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation.
- Minimize caffeine and alcohol consumption. Alcohol and caffeine can cause further dehydration, which can be harmful especially when you’re sick.
- Beware of canned soups. While canned soups feel like a bargain (a healthy, inexpensive and soothing meal) these processed goods are some of the sneakiest saboteurs of them all.
- Keep your on the ingredient label. Inexpensive soups will like have monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a flavoring agent that increases appetite and may cause migraines.
- Even if it’s low in calories and fat, it’s likely overflowing with sodium (some are over 1,200 milligrams per serving) which is bad news for your gut. Based on sodium alone, “Eat This” suggests the following: