Autumn is here, which means the temperatures are beginning to drop.
This also means…cold and flu season is right around the corner.
Now, colder weather doesn’t actually make you sick…however, it can weaken your immune system making you more susceptible to germs once it gets cold.
There are a few ways the colder weather can weaken your immune system.
- There is less sunlight – which means we aren’t as exposed to the sun as we are the rest of the year. Resulting in reduced vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D can weaken the immune system. (1)
- We actually spend more time indoors. When the temperatures drop, we stay inside more than usual, and viruses can spread more when people are close to one another. Cold weather forces people to be in enclosed spaces longer and increases the risk of infection.
- Lower temperatures may affect our immune response. A 2015 study found that exposing airway cells taken from mice to lower temperatures decreased the immune response of the cells against a mouse-adapted rhinovirus.(2)
- During cold weather, some of our natural defenses in our nose may be weakened. Cold air may cause the tissue inside our nose to become dry and cracked, creating an entry portal for germs. And the tiny hairs inside our nose that sweeps germs away may not be as effective in the cold weather.
It’s easy to get sick during the colder months, but there are some great and natural ways you can boost your immune system and keep you healthy!
Of course, washing hands frequently with soap is an important defense against germs. But if you want to avoid getting sick altogether, you’ll need to boost your immune strength.
Here are some natural ways to boost your immune system for the fall and winter:
Get Your Vitamin C & D
Most people know that vitamin C is good for them, but not everyone knows just how beneficial it really is. Vitamin C helps boost your immune system by increasing your white blood cell count. It’s a great supplement if you’re feeling a little under the weather.
Did you know that vitamin D is actually a hormone? Well, it is! And because of this, it helps regulate the immune system and protect against viruses like the flu. Getting enough exposure to sunshine will help your body naturally produce vitamin D in necessary quantities.
Try Some Honey
Honey is not only a natural sweetener, but it’s also loaded with antioxidants. Studies show that manuka honey in particular has antimicrobial effects and can help prevent the growth of bacteria in your mouth and throat, which can lead to colds or flu. Manuka honey is a great alternative to cough drops!
If you’re already feeling under the weather, try drinking hot lemon water with honey to help boost your immune system and make you feel better fast!
Eat a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet helps to keep the immune system balanced and ready to fight against infection and viruses.
2 ideal nutrients to incorporate into your daily diet are:
Protein: Protein is the building block of immune cells. A diet lacking in protein can seriously hinder the body’s immune function. The average adult needs at least 50 grams of quality protein per day. Some great foods high in protein are eggs,e. Make an eating pattern out of incorporating quality protein for each meal, like eggs, nuts, yogurt, chicken and milk.
Antioxidants: Studies have shown that antioxidants improve immune responses. (3)Make sure your meals have plenty of color. A great rule of thumb is the more colorful foods are, the healthier they are. Deep rich colors indicate micronutrients and antioxidants, which your body needs for protection and recovery from illness. Foods high in antioxidants include garlic, kale, raspberries, red cabbage, beans and beats.
Get your Zzz’s
Sleep and immunity are closely tied. Inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness.
In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night. (4)
Getting an adequate amount of sleep may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness. The average adult should try and get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8-10, and younger children need up to 14 hours.
Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours. (5)
While intense exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can actually help to give it a boost! Moderate exercise can include a brisk walk, short hike or even a jog!
Studies show that even a single session of moderate exercise can help to boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. Regular and moderate exercise may also help to reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. (6)
Try To Keep Your Stress At Bay
Our immune health can really take a beating if our stress levels are high. Long-term stress can actually promote inflammation and even cause an imbalance in our immune cell function. (7)
According to a report by the American Psychological Association, long-term stress weakens the responses of your immune system. This is because stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells that help fight off infection. (8)
Some great ways to help your stress is by trying meditation, or even yoga. Something that can relax the body and mind.
The immune system is the body’s defense against disease. Boosting your immune system can help you stay healthy and avoid getting sick in the future with simple, natural steps that are easy to incorporate into everyday life.
Get started with these ideas for boosting immunity today!