The Ultimate Guide to Boosting Your Immune System for the Cold Weather
As beautiful as autumn is, it’s also the time of year when our immune systems seem to go haywire. Between the constantly changing temperatures and the chilling cold, keeping ourselves up and running can prove to be a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do fortify your immune system so you can power through the winter months cold-free. Our ultimate guide will lead you through the preventative steps you can take to stay happy and healthy in the cold weather.
There are few simple things that we should always be doing to keep ourselves feeling healthy and strong, and during the cold months these things are extra important. Make sure you:
- Stay hydrated. Be sure to sip warm water throughout the day. Drinking too quickly or drinking water that is too cold can prevent your body from being able to absorb water most effectively.
- Get plenty of sleep. Doctors recommend that you get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Listen to your body to determine how much sleep you need to feel rested and energized.
- Wash your hands regularly. Most of the time when we get sick, it’s because we’ve come into contact with germs from another person who is sick. Wash your hands when you think you may have come into contact with other people’s germs.
- Drink coffee and alcohol sparingly. Drinking coffee and alcohol in moderation , but too much of either can weaken your immune system, leaving you susceptible to illness. Keep your consumption to a minimum, especially if you’re starting to feel a cold coming on.
- Dress in layers. You can always take layers off if you’re too warm, but you can’t add clothing you don’t have. Check the weather in the morning to see how cold it’s going to get and dress accordingly!
Our diets are crucially to maintaining balance in all of our body’s systems. The immune system can especially benefit from consuming certain foods or supplements that contain the vitamins and nutrients we need to stay well. Consider incorporating these items into your winter dietary routine:
- Vitamin C: With scientifically-proven benefits for your immune system, Vitamin C is a critical addition to your immune arsenal. You probably already know that citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are a great source of Vitamin C. But, did you know that broccoli, brussels sprouts, and bell peppers all contain more Vitamin C than an orange? Incorporate vibrantly colored foods and you’ll be sure to get the Vitamin C you need to be well!
- Vitamin B6: B6 is known for helping the body to create antibodies needed to fight off infection. You can find it in many different sources such as turkey breast, pistachios, tuna, avocados, pinto beans, chickpeas, and sunflower and sesame seeds.
- Probiotics: A scientific study found that participants who consumed a regimen of probiotics over a 12-week period were less likely to acquire the common cold and experienced fewer days with symptoms when they did get a cold. Probiotics introduce healthful bacteria into our bodies that can help us to regulate certain systems and fight off cold and infection. Probiotics can be found in a number of different cultured and fermented foods and beverages such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants help to balance the body’s ratio of free radicals, detached molecules that can have harmful reactions with cells that help your immune and other systems function efficiently. The body’s store of antioxidants prevent these reactions from occurring in order to reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is a great source of antioxidants, as are many foods that are dark in color such as blueberries, dark chocolate, and kidney beans, and nuts such as pecans and walnuts.
You can also get these crucial nutrients by taking daily supplements, but it’s best to get them from your food as they will be combined with other important nutrients that your body needs to get the full effect of each immune booster.
There are a number of different natural remedies you can test out at home which can also boost your immune system when taken regularly. The benefit of natural remedies is that they often have fewer harmful side effects than pharmaceuticals and can easily be made with or incorporated into common household items.
- Echinacea. Although the jury’s still out on echinacea’s effectiveness at treating the common cold, studies have found that it may be useful in preventing healthy people from contracting a cold. It works by boosting the number of white blood cells in your system which your body needs to ward off infection. Echinacea is often consumed as a tea and can also be found as a supplement in pill form.
- Oregano. A 2014 study found that the use of oregano oil had a significant antiviral impact that helped participants combat human norovirus, a stomach bug. Add a drop of oregano essential oil to some tea or hot water or take it in pill form when you feel like you might be getting sick.
- Ginger. A long-trusted immune boosting root, ginger is believed to help break down toxins in the body that can make it difficult for the immune system to do its work. It’s also known for its antimicrobial properties which treat infection and its ability to combat inflammation.
- Ginseng. The immune system’s performance can be enhanced by taking ginseng root which helps to bring into balance the various cells and molecules that work together to keep your system functioning smoothly. Like ginger, it also has antimicrobial properties to help you treat and ward off infection.
- Fire Cider. A strong brew of apple cider vinegar, ginger, garlic, lemon, hot peppers, and honey, fire cider packs a powerful immune boosting punch. Although the taste is pretty rough, drinking a shot of fire cider is a quick and easy way to get in a variety of different immune boosting nutrients in one fell swoop.
- Matcha Green Tea. A traditional Chinese concentrated green tea, matcha contains the powerful Epigallocatechin Gallate which aids the body in producing T-cells, the cells that fight pathogens and reduce inflammation. It’s also a gentle natural stimulant that can keep you energized without caffeine.
Try incorporating some of these tips in your daily regimen to make sure that colds and other viruses won’t keep you off your feet during the colder months.
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