With cold and flu season right around the corner, it is essential to ensure your immune system is operating at the highest level possible. Whether you decided to get the flu shot or not, boosting your immune system naturally will help protect you from getting sick or at the very least, lessen the length of time you are sick.
EAT A HEALTHY WELL-BALANCED DIET
The best way to stay healthy during cold and flu season is to eat a healthy diet. Diets rich in vegetables containing essential vitamins and minerals will help your body perform at optimum levels, and that includes your immune system. You should avoid excess sugar, alcohol, or nicotine.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
This suggestion tends to be one of the most difficult for stressed out and overworked Americans. We have so many things to do and our fast-paced lifestyle leads to a racing mind at night. But if you want to avoid being sick, you’ll want to get enough sleep. Your body repairs itself at night as you sleep and if you are sick, the extra rest is only going to shorten the length of your cold. If you have trouble sleeping, try to look into ways to calm down before bed, such as drinking the aforementioned tea or exhausting yourself with exercise. Try to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine in the few hours before you go to bed. These vices all play a role in our sleeping habits, and not in a positive way. Caffeine and coffee can be amazing for the body, however, it definitely should be avoided before bed, unless you drink decaf.
GET MORE SUNLIGHT
Sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. In the summer, a 10-15 minute exposure (minus sunscreen) is enough. However, above 42 degrees latitude (Boston) from November through February, sunlight is too weak and very few foods contain adequate levels of this essential vitamin. Low vitamin D levels correlate with a greater risk of respiratory infection. A 2010 study in kids showed that 1200 IU a day of supplemental vitamin D reduced the risk of influenza A. This vitamin is essential to managing stress, which too much of can also impact your immune system.
GET MORE VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is important to keep the immune system in cold and flu “fight mode.” The normal “FDA Recommended Daily Allowance” is 60 mg per person per day. It is hard to “overdose” from Vitamin C, as it is a water-soluble vitamin. What this means is that any excess of it not utilized by the body’s metabolism is excreted in the urine. It’s easy to get some extra vitamin C too. Grab some oranges, lemons, or limes and squeeze the fresh (unpasteurized) juice into your water. This is how I get my dose of this amazing vitamin.
Hopefully, you will be able to use some of these tips to boost your immune system this fall as we enter the cold and flu season. Part of a well-balanced approach to preparing is also an understanding of the seasons and the risks involved. Take care of yourself this winter!