Are you prepared for cold and flu season?
Though there’s no guaranteed way to avoid getting sick during the winter months, supporting your immune system is a great place to start.
Boost your immunity this winter with these 10 natural cold and flu remedies…
10 Natural Ways to Avoid Getting a Cold or Flu
1. Decrease Stress
Take time out of your day to enjoy relaxing activities, like listening to music or meditating. When you experience stress, your body increases hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline) which can tax your immune system and raise your risk of contracting the common cold and other viruses. Stress-reducing activities can have a positive effect on the immune system.
2. Go Somewhere Sunny
If getting sufficient levels of UVA (ultraviolet A) rays from the sun proves difficult during the winter months, especially if you live anywhere near the Great White North, consider saving up some money earlier in the year for a vacation to a sunny destination (the Caribbean, for instance) during the winter. This will make enduring the cold, dark months more bearable.
3. Regular Exercise
Getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily will increase your blood circulation and can help strengthen your immune system. Exercise helps antibodies and white blood cells move around the body faster, so they may detect illnesses sooner. The increase in circulation also helps transport healthy hormones that warn the immune system of intruding pathogens.
4. Eat Healthy
Eating a balanced diet is common sense for overall well-being. While no single food will magically fend off a cold or flu, certain nutrients can help protect your body from billions of bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Some nutrients and foods with added benefits that are natural cold and flu remedies include:
- Garlic, ginger, spinach, beans, and other legumes
- Active omega-3 fatty acids (EPA + DHA), found in salmon, tuna, and other cold-water fish
- Zinc-rich foods, like oysters, crab, grass-fed lean meats and poultry, and chickpeas
- Selenium-rich foods, such as broccoli, sardines, tuna, brazil nuts, and barley
- Vitamin C-rich foods, like bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, Brussels sprouts, kale, and citrus fruits
- Vitamin E-rich foods, including almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds
5. Light Up Your Life
Daily exposure to appropriate levels (even just 10 to 30 minutes a day) of direct sunlight will help keep you in a good mood and boost vitamin D3 tissue levels that promote healthy immunity. If you find it challenging to get enough natural light during the winter, consider buying a lightbox or vitamin D lamp for your home or work desk. These alternate light sources simulate noontime sunshine without the UV rays that cause skin cancers. Be sure to purchase a lightbox that has been proven to increase vitamin D levels, features several different settings to prevent eyestrain and is as close as possible to the natural sunlight spectrum.
6. Boost Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is crucial for healthy immune function, as well as for maintaining a positive mood during the winter months. Getting necessary amounts of vitamin D can be particularly challenging during the winter season – typically from November to March – when there are fewer hours of sunlight and when the sun itself is less intense. Due to colder temperatures and inclement weather, the tendency for many people is to stay inside where it’s warm and hunker down for the winter. However, failure to get enough vitamin D, as well as exercise, can lead to health problems and other mental and physical difficulties. It’s recommended that you get your blood vitamin D tested. If it’s less than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood, take a vitamin D3 supplement (up to 10,000 IU per day until you exceed this threshold blood level).
7. Make Room for Mushrooms
Whatever variety you choose – shiitake, maitake, reishi, enoki, or oyster – Japanese mushrooms are a great immunity booster. They contain beta-glucans (a unique category of large, branching, complex carbohydrates) that don’t affect blood sugar but remarkably enhance immune activity against infections. They also have ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant that doesn’t get destroyed during the cooking process and may enhance immunity. Sauteed mushrooms make a flavorful (and filling) addition to entrees and vegetable dishes, without contributing a lot of calories!
8. Drink More Water
Hydration is key not only to brain function but to whole-body health. Every system in the body needs adequate hydration to function properly. Water helps to cleanse the body and remove toxins, including germs. By keeping body systems – especially the respiratory system – well-hydrated, you can enhance your cold-fighting potential.
9. Get Restful Sleep
Sufficient sleep supports healthy immune functioning, while sleep deprivation can depress your immunity. According to a sleep study published in the journal Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, significant detrimental effects on immune functioning can be seen after just a few days of total sleep deprivation or even several days of partial sleep deprivation. While required levels of sleep may vary, adults should try to get an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Those with a compromised immune system should get more sleep. Quality sleep stimulates the immune system, which will help minimize problems with colds or the flu during the long winter months.
10. Quality Nutrition
Due to shorter days and colder weather, lifestyle changes can be difficult to implement during the winter season. However, this is a crucial time of year to focus on staying healthy. To naturally boost and maintain your immune system, it’s important to create healthy habits for overall well-being. One of the best ways to boost your immunity during cold and flu season is with high-quality vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Developing a supplement routine is nutritional insurance for winter wellness.
Keith is grateful to have the opportunity to write about supplements since many of them have made a dramatic difference in his life. He is often heard around the office saying, “We have supplements for that.”