As the daylight hours wane and the leaves begin to fall, you may be starting to feel the first tickle of a sneeze. Oh no, you think, reaching for a box of tissues. Time to start another fall and winter cycle of endless cold after cold.
You don’t have to put up with being constantly sick this cold and flu season. Instead of muddling through this time of year, defend yourself with these immune-boosting tips.
- Eat a well-balanced diet
And eat regularly! Try to stagger your meals so that you never experience ravenous hunger, as this can make you more susceptible to flus, colds, and other viruses. Try to eat a well-balanced diet that includes tons of vitamins and minerals.
In particular, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are most beneficial for enhancing immune function and keeping you healthy. While organic options tend to be best, as you’ll be exposed to fewer pesticides, locally grown produce is another good option. Local or homegrown produce tends to be higher in immune-boosting phytochemicals.
Aim to always eat whole foods, like animal protein, whole grains, and legumes in addition to natural fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid overly processed foods, as well as fast food, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Add a multivitamin
Any multivitamin will help boost your immune system, but look in particular for ones that contain vitamin C and vitamin E. Vitamin C is the most popular vitamin associated with illness prevention, and while you can get all that you need from food, taking a supplement is a good way to ensure you are staying on track.
Vitamin E, on the other hand, has antioxidizing benefits. It can drastically slow the process of aging, as it boosts the cells that fight infection. Foods that are rich in vitamin E, as well as supplements, can help ward off illness this fall.
- Get plenty of sleep
Managing stress and getting plenty of sleep are important, as high levels of the “stress” hormone, cortisol, can suppress your immune system. Aim for seven to eight hours per night, and sleep a little more when you’re feeling particularly under the weather.
- Spice things up
Garlic, too, can help promote immunity and also acts as an antimicrobial agent. Add it to food just before you serve it, because its abilities are not as strong after it has been heated. Ginger is another helpful spice, which can have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also increases blood flow, helping to move nasty germs out of your system more quickly.
Other herbs to incorporate into your daily diet include curry, cloves, cilantro, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and nutmeg. These spices can improve every aspect of your daily functioning, from your sinus health to your mental cognition.
- Watch your gut health
Healthy bacteria in your gut help keep your whole body healthy. By having active flora in your digestive tract, you can cut your sick days in half.
Your digestive health is the key to having a healthy immune system. If you feel as though you aren’t functioning as you should be, consider increasing your intake of probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut. You can also add a probiotic supplement.
- Get moving
Exercise gets your blood flowing and can give you more energy, making it easier for your body to fight off infection and stay healthy. If you are unlucky enough to catch a cold, exercise can actually help you recover more quickly. Exercise, even when performed only two to three times a week at a moderate level, helps boost your immune system by improving the functioning of the cells that are designed to fight bacteria.
- Spend some time outside
Vitamin D – the crucial nutrient best provided by the sun – is responsible for boosting your mood and increasing your body’s natural immune defenses. In the summertime, you get plenty of sunlight just by stepping outside for a few minutes a day. Unfortunately, in the fall, as daylight hours dwindle, the sunlight is not powerful enough to boost immune response in this short amount of time.
Therefore, in the fall and winter months, you need to make an active decision to get yourself outside more often. Fresh air and sunlight will reinvigorate you, even on the cloudiest days. If you still feel as though you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, consider taking a multivitamin or increasing your dairy intake.
- Have a good laugh
Relaxation is important when it comes to dealing with illness, as well as preventing it. Meditation can help boost your immune system, probably because it makes you happy!
Another way to fight a cold? Meet up with your funniest friend, or catch the new Adam Sandler movie A good laugh can help fight disease in a number of ways. A deep belly laugh helps to activate the lymphatic system to move fluid through your lymph nodes, essentially helping to better circulate your blood and reduce your likelihood of a number of diseases.
- Avoid your vices
We get it – that afternoon cigarette or the evening nightcap can be tough to resist. However, tobacco smoke leads to bronchitis, pneumonia, and other illnesses, and can seriously undermine your immune system. This is true even if you’re not the one smoking, and are merely exposed to secondhand smoke.
Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to impaired immune functioning, which can cause lung dysfunction and other serious problems at this time of the year.
- Add Dr. Willard’s Water®
Water helps to produce lymph, the method by which white blood cells (the key disease-fighting cells) are transported. Drinking tons of water is a great way to stay healthy.
Staying hydrated is important, but ensuring you are replacing lost nutrients is equally vital. While plain water is usually sufficient for basic hydration, if you’re feeling under the weather – or just starting to get sick – adding some extra vitamins and minerals can’t hurt.
When your immune system is in danger, consider adding a supplemental beverage. Dr. Willard’s Water® is a natural water additive that can enhance your body’s overall functioning. It will increase your body’s ability to naturally absorb crucial vitamins and minerals, like magnesium and vitamin C.
By making small changes now, you are less likely to suffer from a devastating autumn cold or flu. Protect yourself from illness and savor the extra time being healthy will provide.