Strengthening your immune system. Winter is almost officially here! We’ve had some snow. Holiday decorations are up. And the “sick” season has set in. It’s hard to avoid getting ill during this time of year with so many of us indoors and in close quarters, especially around the holidays. Frequent hand washing is the best way to avoid picking up viruses or other “germs” but we can all take other steps to stay healthy this winter. Not to mention, strengthen your immune system!
While many people speak of “boosting” immunity, it’s actually a complex system made up of lots of different “warriors” and other components that fight infection and disease. Researchers are still exploring how the aspects of a healthy lifestyle can affect the immune system and how it functions. Here are some tips to strengthen your immune system. And get it ready to attack any invaders that come your way!
Get Regular Exercise
Maintaining a healthy weight through regular moderate exercise contributes to overall good general health and in turn, a healthy immune system. Exercise also improves circulation which helps the cells of the immune system move efficiently throughout the body so they can do their job.
Get Regular Sleep
A lack of adequate sleep can interfere with how our immune system cells function. A regular bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and staying away from electronic media the hour before you want to be asleep will all aid in helping get a good night’s rest.
Eat Lots of Fruits and Veggies
While no direct link between foods and immune system function have been established, a diet rich in micronutrients like zinc, iron and folic acid plus vitamins like A, C, and E can keep our immune system in top shape to fight infection. Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, and legumes are good sources of these vitamins and micronutrients. Not a fan of fruits and veggies? Consider a supplement but check with your doctor first. More of a vitamin or nutrient is not always better.
Drink Plenty of Water
It’s actually easy to get dehydrated in the winter because we spend more time indoors under dry, heated conditions. Good hydration keeps the wheels of our immune system working efficiently and with exercise, helps move our immune cells throughout the body so they can do their job.
Easier said than done! Holidays are filled with parties, shopping, family, and friends. All great things but they can add to our stress as we get through the rest of our day. Chronic stress does seem to play a role in immune functioning, although how much is still up for debate. Find time to meditate, get a massage or exercise to lower stress levels. (Read our Lifestyle Coach Emily’s blog about reducing holiday stress for more helpful tips)!
A Healthy Holiday
I hope all these tips are helpful in strengthening your immune system. And that you all have a healthy and happy holiday season!