It’s that time of year when we’re all trying to dodge the winter cold. But, with the flu season in full swing, it’s important to remember there are many things you can do to help boost your immune system’s defenses and stay healthy this winter.
In this post, we’ll explore 7 ways you can improve your immunity and avoid catching a cold or getting sick in general:
1) Staying healthy should start with your diet
Little things can have a big impact. For example, if you’re getting sick more often than you’d like, take a look at what you’re eating.
While food isn’t your only line of defense against illness, your immune system does need certain nutrients to function properly. If you are not getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet, it can trigger an allergic reaction or keep your body from fighting off illness. For optimal health, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (ex: kale, broccoli, bell peppers), try to cut down on sugars (ex: soda), and drink plenty of water (ex: 64 ounces / 8 glasses).
It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, physiologically speaking, it is critical to your immune system’s operation and mental health. When you exercise, it literally boosts your ability to produce and release natural and healthy hormones that keep the entire body in homeostasis (steady state). This means that instead of becoming accustomed to your current level of illness and sickness over time, the body is never exposed to a high level of illness or discomfort over a long period of time. In other words, when you exercise regularly, you get better results from less effort. While it seems counter-intuitive at first, the more you exercise the healthier you will be.
3) Boost your antioxidant levels
Although there are many different types of antioxidants, they all work to combat inflammation and other diseases such as dandruff and psoriasis. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which can cause cells to become damaged or even die.
The best way to get more antioxidants in your diet is by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
3) Avoid Smoking and Drinking Alcohol Altogether
These are both very bad habits that can affect your immune system. Smokers have a higher incidence of viruses, heart disease, and lung cancer. Additionally, alcohol acts as an anticoagulant, which decreases the amount of blood flowing to our organs and tissues. Anticoagulants are very common in alcohol intake. If you are using these drugs or need to use them, remember that alcohol will only mask the symptoms of other infections you may have. Thus, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
4) Drink Water, Lots of It!
Water is the best drink you can possibly consume. Studies show that people need to drink 8 glasses of water a day for optimum health and disease prevention. When we do not get enough water, we become dehydrated and our bodies will start to shut down. As a result, we will experience impaired mental and physical performance, as well as become sick more often.
5) Try to Sleep 8 Hours a Night
You probably won’t be able to do this for a while, but if you can make it a goal to sleep 8 hours a night this winter, your body will thank you. During the winter season, you need even more sleep than usual because of the cold weather and less sunlight. Make sure you bring an eye mask because light therapy has been shown to help boost your immune system’s effectiveness by 25%! In order for your body to regain its strength from the day’s stresses and activities, it needs time to rest.
6) Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Another way to boost your immune system is to live healthy. This doesn’t mean that you need to abstain from all drugs and substances, but it does mean that you should avoid smoking, alcohol, and other things that can be unhealthy for the body. These types of substances can often lower your immunity and make you more susceptible to illness. As an example: if your immune system is fighting off a virus and it becomes fatigued, both you and the virus will be at risk for complications during the infection.
7) Pay Attention to Your Environment
As we mentioned above with sleep, this may not be possible in the short-term due to your environmental circumstances or personal needs. However, you should always pay attention to the environment around you. If you live in a polluted area with toxic chemicals in your water supply or things like asbestos in your house, it will be very difficult for your immune system to remain strong. This is especially true if you live in areas where there are many allergens (ex: dust) present.
At its most basic level, the immune system is a complex biological system that functions as a first line of defense against infection and other diseases. When this first line of defense works well, it prevents an organism from becoming ill and allows for a quick recovery so that it can fight off future infections and diseases.
The proper diet, exercise, and environmental factors are some of the most important things you can do to boost your immune system. When your immune system is strong, this may prevent allergies and it also protects you against disease. However, if an infection or other diseases manage to get through or circumvent your immune system’s defenses, it will be much easier for you to exhibit symptoms that often come with taking care of an illness.
Whether you are fighting off the cold coming down from Alaska or just want to stay healthy throughout the winter months, this is a great way to help keep your immune system strong.