It’s always the right time to boost your immune system! Here are some of our favorite tips for staying healthy during the cold months ahead or anytime.
We all know that sugar isn’t good for us, but it’s also detrimental to our immune system by suppressing white blood cells that are responsible for attacking bacteria. In general reducing sugar is beneficial, but it’s especially important if you feel under the weather or run down. Be aware that sugar can be in foods you may not suspect like fruit juice, salad dressings and ketchup. Instead of sugary snacks, try almonds, turkey jerky, whole milk yogurt, or other satisfying foods.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep our gut healthy and have a profound effect on our immune system. Recent studies show that by supplementing with probiotics we have less chance of catching a cold or the flu. The good bacteria do this by surrounding the virus or bad bacteria in the intestinal tract and neutralizing it or creating a barrier that prevents it from entering the blood stream. To increase your good bacteria take a high-quality probiotic supplement and eat fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and yogurt.
Reduce your stress
We all have some stress in our lives, but if our stress is chronic we are less able to prevent or fight any illness. Studies show that chronic stress causes inflammation that creates an inability of the immune cells to do their job. Find ways to relax with yoga, tai chi, walking, massage, or other activities that help you feel calm and energized.
Take vitamin D
Living in the northern hemisphere we get less vitamin D from the sun during the fall and winter seasons, which could be one of the reasons we are more susceptible to colds and flu during this time. Studies have shown that starting vitamin D3 supplementation a month before flu season can reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 50%! Vitamin D recommendations are highly individual, but the basic guidelines are 4,000 – 8,000 units per day for adults. Be sure to use vitamin D3 (not D2). To accurately determine how much you need you can get your blood tested. The correct test to order is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The optimal value is 50-70 ng/ml.
If you’re not getting enough sleep you’re more likely to catch a cold or the flu. Reduced sleep can lead to higher levels of stress hormones that cause inflammation in your body, which can affect the immune system. For adults seven to nine hours is recommended for optimal health. Turn off the TV or computer earlier in the evening and unwind before going to bed. Keep your bedroom dark and go to bed as much before midnight as possible.
Move your body
Fight the urge to hibernate all winter! When we move our bodies the fluid in our lymph system and our blood flows more quickly, which means our immune system has a better chance of finding an intruder before it has a chance to spread. Studies also show that moderate exercise reduces the chance of upper respiratory infections. You don’t have to become a super athlete – brisk walking, yoga, even household chores can be effective.
Wash your hands
If our immune system is strong it should be able to fight off bacteria and viruses, but washing your hands reduces the likelihood of the invaders getting into our body in the first place or transmitting them to other people. Just regular soap and water works great. Antibacterial soaps are unnecessary and cause more harm than good. If you’re not able to wash your hands, try this easy hand sanitizer that is effective and non-toxic. Stow it in your purse, backpack or briefcase for times when you need a little extra protect