With summer fading into fall, it’s all hands on deck to ready your immune system for the coming cold weather.
Respiratory infections, colds, and flu spread more efficiently in colder weather for a few reasons. The first is proximity. We spend more time indoors, where we are less likely to social distance. At the same time, we are more likely to be face to face, passing along air-borne pathogens.
Humidity is lower in the winter, a condition that spreads virus particles more easily. The particles breathed out by infected people absorb less water and remain lighter. They fly further around the room and are more likely to be inhaled.
Now, you can’t completely control when and if you get sick. Germs are on almost every shared surface and floating all around us in the air. Even taking the most extreme precautions, you may unwittingly breathe in infected floating particles. You could lock yourself away – and never again open a public bathroom stall or shop at the grocery store – but that’s no way to live.
Your best defense is to support your immune system in every way possible. By reinforcing a balanced immune system response, you take significant steps towards staying as healthy as possible this fall and winter. Let’s take a look at the top four ways to keep your immune system strong.
1. Adapt A Healthy Diet That Includes Probiotics
The design of your immune system is complex and fueled by many factors and not by any one specific food or nutrient. Accordingly, a healthy diet consisting of a range of vitamins and minerals most effectively primes your body to fight infection and disease.
Nutrients essential for the growth and function of immune system cells include vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein (including the amino acid glutamine). (1,2)
Prioritize these vitamin-rich foods in your diet:
• Vitamin C: citrus, including oranges and berries, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach.
• Vitamin D and Magnesium: dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains, fatty fish like salmon, nuts, bananas, and avocados. Treat yourself to real dark chocolate, loaded with magnesium and antioxidants.
• Vitamin B6: Potatoes with skin, chicken, salmon, and tuna.
• Vitamin E: Seeds, peanut butter, and spinach.
At the same time, try to reduce or eliminate overly processed foods from your diet – anything deep friend, fast or fatty and replace them with antioxidant-filled options.
Probiotics have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the duration and severity of illnesses, including respiratory infections. (3) Over 80 percent of immune system cells live in your gut and interact with the good bacteria in your microbiome. Replenishing your gut microbiome with a quality daily probiotic is an easy way to support your immune system health.
It’s best to pick a probiotic with high counts of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains like Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics.
Studies have shown these strains to be most beneficial for your immune system while helping eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of an imbalanced microbiome. (7)
2. Exercise Regularly, But Don’t Overdo It
Boosting immune function and reducing inflammation are two positive effects regular exercise provides. Still, in this case, more is not necessarily better.
Overworking your body may lower your immune system’s defenses and increase your illness risk, especially when chronic soreness interrupts your sleep. A better approach replaces intense workouts with stretching, walking, yoga, and fun sports-oriented activities. (4)
3. Establish Good Sleep Habits
Sleep is one of the foundations for a good immunity response, so much so, the chance of catching a contagious illness is 450% greater if you get less than five solid hours of sleep at night. (5)
During sleep, your bodily systems – nervous, cardiovascular, and immune – reset and refresh themselves. When you miss sleep, you deprive your body of the opportunity of repairing itself.
Give yourself a fighting chance for a whole night of slumber by establishing good sleep habits.
•Stick to a Schedule: Go to bed and set your alarm for the same time every day. Consistency reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
•Restful Environment: Make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
•Limit Naps: Naps can disrupt nighttime sleep. If you must nap, limit the time to less than 30 minutes.
•Avoid Stimulants: Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol take hours to wear off, so avoid them at least 6 hours before bedtime.
4. Supplement Your Immune System
To guarantee you are getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients you need every day to support your immune system fully, consider taking a quality immune system supplement like Dynamic Immunity from Stonehenge Health.
They’ve combined the critical nutrients – Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, L-Glutamine, and Zinc – in one daily dose to help restore and maintain your body’s natural defense system. You’ll also find Elderberry, Echinacea, Garlic, and Turmeric, powerhouse antioxidants shown to boost white cell and antibody activity.
And if you do find yourself coughing and sneezing, Dynamic Immunity helps speed up your immune response and boosts your capacity to help fight off infections.
1. Guillin OM, Vindry C, Ohlmann T, Chavatte L. Selenium, selenoproteins and viral infection. Nutrients. 2019 Sep;11(9):2101.
2. Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a gatekeeper of immune function. Nutrients. 2017 Dec;9(12):1286.
3. Maldonado Galdeano, Carolina, Silvia Inés Cazorla, José María Lemme Dumit, Eva Vélez, and Gabriela Perdigón. 2019. “Beneficial Effects Of Probiotic Consumption On The Immune System”. Annals Of Nutrition And Metabolism 74 (2): 115-124. doi:10.1159/000496426.
5. “Sleep Deprived Get Sick More Often”. 2015. University Of California. universityofcalifornia.edu/news/sleep-deprived-get-sick-more-often.
7. 2021. Applied And Environmental Microbiology. journals.asm.org/doi/full/10.1128/AEM.65.9.3763-3766.1999. Alessandri, Giulia, Maria Cristina Ossiprandi, John MacSharry, Douwe van Sinderen, and Marco Ventura. 2019. “Bifidobacterial Dialogue With Its Human Host And Consequent Modulation Of The Immune System”. Frontiers In Immunology 10. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.02348.