The holiday season is here, but unfortunately so is cold and flu season. This is when you should be considering how to boost your immune system more than ever- not just when your cubicle mate sneezes for the nineteenth time in one day.
Really, prioritizing the strength of your immune system is good practice year-round. Aside from the more obvious well-known tips like washing your hands and gulping down a glass of fresh orange juice, here are 9 ways to stay healthy and strong all winter long!
Eat whole foods
When it comes to supporting your immune system, the more nutrients the better. So it’s important to focus on eating a good balance of complete foods like quality plant protein, whole grains, nuts, seeds and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make an attempt to ‘eat the rainbow’.
Cut out the sugar
Sugar can do major damage to the immune system. This is because sugar causes inflammation, creates an inviting environment for pathogens and disrupts balance within the gut. So scale back on the sweets and sodas and use the upcoming New Year as motivation to establish healthier habits!
Up your vitamin C intake
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source of vitamin C, which we know is the key component to a healthy immune system. Citrus, mango, bell peppers, cauliflower and dark leafy greens like kale are all amazing sources. Load up and try to consume a variety.
Think about zinc
Zinc is critical for healthy cell development and function and therefore keeps the immune system in check. Chickpeas, flax and pumpkin seeds, cashews, spinach and cacao are all great ways to incorporate more zinc into your diet.
Roughly 80% of our immune system is located in the digestive system. So keeping a healthy gut is crucial!
Embrace friendly bacteria
Roughly 80% of our immune system is located in the digestive system. So keeping a healthy gut is crucial. Try to include probiotics into your daily consumption, which can be found in fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, miso, yogurt and kimchi.
Drink plenty of water
By now we all understand the importance of H2O. Specifically regarding the immune system, water helps in the production of lymph, so staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to make your body more resilient. Add a slice of lemon, orange or lime for an extra boost of vitamin C!
A good sweat sesh is a great way to get or stay in shape while also increasing immune function. So find the time to get moving, even if it’s only for a brisk walk or choosing stairs over the elevator. Starting each morning with some exercise is also a sure-fire way to encourage other healthy decisions as the day goes on.
Soak up the sun
Although it may be cold and gloomy, Vitamin D plays a role in strengthening the immune system. So try to get outside and soak in some rays when you can (while wearing protection of course!). Bask in the sun outside typical peak UV times (the late morning and early afternoon) to avoid sunburn. Bonus- vitamin D will lift your mood as well!
Get your ZZZs
The body repairs, rejuvenates and strengthens during sleep. Skimping on ZZZs therefore weakens the immune system and greatly increases the risk of catching illness. Try to get a solid 8 hours in each night, and your body (and those around you) will thank you.