The winter months usually bring along colds, sniffles, and coughs that attack your immunity – making many people miss class, work, and other obligations. When we have that first sneeze or stuffy nose, we usually race to beat the sickness that we can feel impeding our immune systems. When it comes to the cold and flu, knowledge is power. It’s important to take your health into your own hands and learn what you can do to help keep your immune system fighting off potentially dangerous illnesses like the flu.
What’s the Immune System?
Your immune system is your defense against viruses, bacteria, and more. The immune system is made up of cells and tissues that constantly fight off invaders that try to knock you off your feet. It’s explained that the immune system is spread throughout your body and is made up of many cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. The neat thing is that our systems can distinguish our tissue from those foreign invaders trying to attack. Our immune systems are how we survive and thrive, which is why it’s important to give it the help it needs when it seems everyone around you is getting sick.
According to the Center for Disease Control, flu season peaks December through February. Interested in how to help support your immune system this flu season? Follow these tips!
Focus on what you eat
The food you put into your body can help keep your immunity strong. One of your greatest ways to boost your immunity during flu season is to hit the produce aisle! Foods that are full of vitamin C are important. These foods are:
- Oranges & lemons – these citrus based fruits are packed with vitamin C
- Red bell peppers – which actually have MORE vitamin C than oranges
- Broccoli – this food is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Tip: eat raw or cook lightly to help it maintain its immune-boosting properties
- Garlic – it’s not the best for your breath, but it works wonders for your immunity. Garlic has been fighting infections since early civilization. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that garlic is used as a dietary supplement for many purposes, including high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the common cold, as well as in attempts to prevent cancer and other diseases. We’re adding more of this in, ASAP!
When you incorporate fruit and veggies into your diet on a regular basis, not just during cold & flu season, it’s been proven that you get sick less. Balanced Well-Being Healthcare knows just how important nutrition is to your overall health.
Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, happens through cholesterol when the sun meets your skin. In the winter months, it’s common to not get as much sunshine. If you are struggling to get outside and stay healthy, a vitamin D supplement might be what helps you. A 2010 study found that children who supplemented vitamin D in the winter reduced their chances of contracting the flu. We think that’s good enough reason to implement vitamin D! As always, practice safety when going in the sun. Most people are safe to get vitamin D from being in the sun for a short period of time without sunscreen. However, if you’re going to be in the sun for longer periods of time, remember to wear sunscreen!
Sleep it off
Sleep is important when it comes to protecting your body from infection. When you sleep, your immune system releases cytokines. If you’re not sleeping enough, production of cytokines slows and the antibodies that help fight off illness dwindle. This makes you more susceptible to coming down with a nasty bug. While it won’t necessarily prevent you from catching a cold or flu, getting enough sleep with help keep your immune system supported and functioning. Adults should aim for 8 hours of sleep at night, while kids and teens might need up to 10 hours a night to keep their immune systems fighting hard. In addition, other benefits of sleep like reducing stress and weight loss, both of which can work to keep your immunity up this cold and flu season.
Keep clean hands
We know this seems obvious, but during cold & flu season it’s crucial to make sure you’re washing your hands regularly and with soap and water. If you’re out and about, the next best thing is using hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer works by using alcohol as an antiseptic. However, it’s important to note that hand sanitizer doesn’t kill all germs like old fashioned hand washing with soap and water can! When choosing hand sanitizer, make sure it is at least 60% alcohol to help you best avoid illness.
Having a fitness routine can help your immune system perform at top level. This means that you will more easily fight and defend yourself against illnesses like the cold and flu. Something as light as a 30 minute walk is enough to help your body fight infection. Getting exercise will help you fight off a cold better than someone who doesn’t work out at all. Plus, exercise also helps you sleep better – which we just discussed also helps your immune system. Win/win!
Improve Your Immunity with Balanced Well-Being Healthcare
The cold and flu season inevitably comes around every year. However, you can take steps to boost your immunity so you can more-easily fight off these illnesses. However, if you think you might have a nutrition deficiency or are afraid you might have sleep apnea affecting your quality of sleep, Balanced Well-Being Healthcare can help you get to the root of the problem so you can keep your immune system thriving like it should. Call us at (970)-631-8286 to talk about your options to get your immune system back on track!