The cooler weather signals the start of the dreaded cold and flu season. Maintaining a strong immune system is vital to staying healthy throughout the fall and winter months. Here are some steps you can take to fight germs and boost your immunities.
Get Enough Rest
Chronic fatigue caused by lack of sleep is known to weaken our immune systems. Studies show that people who get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night are less susceptible to infection then those who get less sleep. Lack of sleep also causes stress hormones in your body to increase, further damaging our immunities. Try to take advantage of the shorter days by choosing and maintaining a reasonable bedtime.
It can be hard to stay motivated to exercise when it is cold outside and we are bundled up in big sweaters that hide our flaws. Regular, moderate exercise can help your body to fight infection. A strong body is a healthy body. Go for a walk every night after dinner or pop in a yoga DVD first thing in the morning. Any movement is better than none. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. *An added bonus of working out is that it helps our bodies sleep more soundly.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The foods you eat play a major part in strengthening your immune system. Certain ‘super foods’ are filled with the vitamins and mineral s we need to stave off germs. Foods that are high in vitamin C are fantastic to eat in the winter months. While citrus fruits may be hard to find this time of year, vegetables such as spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts and bell peppers are all chock full of vitamin C.
Iron helps your body carry oxygen to its cells and is found in poultry, beef, seafood and many beans. Vitamin E-rich foods contain powerful antioxidants that help your body fight infection. Snack on sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts to get a daily dose of Vitamin E. Avoid refined sugars, alcohol and processed foods as much as possible. Follow the mantra ‘Eat close to the Earth’.
A constant onslaught of stress is bad for your emotional and physical health. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and heart disease. Finding ways to manage your stress level is vital to staying healthy. The craziness of the holidays can make that easier said than done. Try your best to take a deep breath and step back from the mad rush of life when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. Carve 10 minutes into your day to meditate or sit quietly with a book. Play music while paying the bills or cooking dinner and dance to rhythm. Buy an essential oil diffuser and add your favorite scented oil to it to fill your home with a serene scent.
Research has shown that getting ample Vitamin D can help keep you healthy. Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin and just 20 minutes of sun exposure can boost your levels. In the winter, this may be harder to do so eating foods rich in Vitamin D, like fish, can also help. Check with your doctor to make sure your Vitamin D levels are sufficient. If not, your doctor may suggest supplementation.
Remember your H2O
The old adage about drinking 8 glasses of water a day to stay healthy is spot on. Water helps to flush toxins out of our body and works naturally to keep our kidneys functioning properly. Stay away from sweetened waters, as they contain calories and chemicals that inhibit the process of removing toxins from the body.
Following some of these simple tips will help you keep your immune system running at its highest capacity, and should help you to feel well all winter long.