As October winds down and the weather is finally cooling off, we are reminded that winter will be on its way soon. One look around and you can already see the watery eyes and runny noses signaling the beginning of cold and flu season. Since no one enjoys being sick,the best course of action is to prep your immune system and adjust your habits now so that you will be less susceptible to viruses and quicker to recover when you do get one. Here are five simple measures you can take to ensure your immune system stays healthy so you can too:
Tap into the power of healthy foods
Eating well, really well is always important. But this is especially true when what you need is a strong and active immune system. Choose your food wisely as you head into cold and flu season by bulking up on foods with immune boosting properties. Seeds, nuts, dark leafy greens, citrus, garlic, ginger, flax and lots of fresh veggies are all good options. Remember however that these foods are most effective when eaten in a wide and varying combination with each other. Cutting back on immune suppressing caffeine and sugar is also a good idea. (Sorry!) Now would be a great time to invest in a consultation with a health and wellness counselor for some key items to add to your diet. Two I’d recommend are Jamie Living and Alara Castell
Most likely the cooler weather and shorter days aren’t exactly inspiring you to hit the gym, but even thirty minutes of moderate exercise a day has a positive effect on the body’s immune response. Through sweat our bodies are able to flush out a higher quantity of toxins and bacteria, raised temperatures create a more difficult environment for bacteria to thrive and increased circulation sends antibodies through our systems at a higher rate. The key here though is not to overdo it, jumping into an extreme exercise routine is a pretty good way to exhaust your system. Start at a moderate pace for you and work up to a higher level of activity. You can see the ACSM and AHA physical activity and public health guidelines here.
Simply put, a tired body is a weak body. Our bodies heal and our cells regenerate while we are sleeping. If you are depriving yourself of a full night of sleep you are depriving your body of the ability to fight off infection. Make an effort to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night. Everyone is different in their sleep needs so figure out how many hours of sleep allows you to wake up feeling rested and make that your goal each night. And listen to your body! If you are dragging in the middle of your day allow yourself a short nap if you can and adjust your nightly sleep schedule.
So it needs to be said that the most effective and complete source of vitamins and minerals comes from food. However most of us, even if we eat well, fail to eat well enough often enough. Even if you don’t normally take a multi-vitamin, it is a good idea to add one to your diet now when you want to be sure you are getting a full amount of vitamins C, E, Bioflavenoids and Anti-oxidants. But don’t be tempted to use your vitamins as an excuse not to eat well. Nature is a miracle and fruits and vegetables combine unique and irreplaceable combinations of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for optimum health.
There are three ways germs regularly enter our bodies: through the mouth, eyes and nose. We are constantly picking up germs on our hands regardless of the time of year. By regularly washing your hands with hot water and soap and by keeping your hands off your face, you can greatly reduce the number of germs that enter your body.