How to Win the War Against Winter

During the colder winter months, most of us spend more time indoors. While we avoid the cold and snow, we also invite the spread of germs. There’s less air circulation inside and we’re likely cooped up with others who may expose us to cold or flu viruses. During the winter we’re at war to maintain our immune health.

A healthy immune system is key to staying well, especially during cold and flu season. Your immune system includes various organs, cells, and proteins that help guard your body against germs, cellular changes, microbes, and harmful substances that can make you sick. You probably don’t pay much attention to your immune system unless it’s not working as it should be. Make your immune health a priority this winter. Here are tips to help:

1. Sleep

Lack of enough sleep can lead to lack of immunity. Have you ever noticed that you sleep more when you’re sick? That’s because sleep is linked to a healthier immune system, and when you’re sick, your body is trying to strengthen your natural defenses so it can fight off illness better.

  • According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), people 18 – 60 years of age should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Here are a few things you can do if you struggle getting enough sleep:
  • Avoid screen time before bed. The blue light from your phone and other devices may upset your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Meditating before bed may help to calm your mind so you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Sleep in a completely dark room or use an eye mask to shut out as much light as possible.

2. Hydrate

Unlike sleep, the link between hydration and immune health isn’t as direct. However, dehydration can impact your heart and kidney functions, as well as your focus, mood, physical performance, digestion, and more, all of which can make you more susceptible to illness.

As adults, we’re told to drink 8 glasses of water a day. While this is solid advice, hydration levels depend on many different factors, such as climate, whether you work outdoors, and whether you get regular, intense exercise or not.

A good rule of thumb is to drink enough water to keep your urine a pale, yellow color. Avoid sugary drinks, such as soda and juice, as well as too much caffeine or drinks with unhealthy additives.

Not all drink mixes are bad for you. Some of them can make your hydration more impactful with added immune health support. Drinks with added vitamins and antioxidants are a good alternative when you get bored with plain water.

3. Plant-Based Foods With Vitamins & Antioxidants

We all know that a good diet is important to our overall health, but did you know that it can also impact your immune health? If you want to improve your diet, including more of the foods below can be beneficial to your body’s immune system.

Adding more whole plant foods is one way you can support your immune health. Fruits and veggies contain high amounts of various vitamins. Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to help lessen the duration of winter colds and flu.

Not only are these types of foods packed with healthy nutrients, but they often have lots of antioxidants in them, which are known to guard against free radicals that can cause inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to several types of disease.

If you’re concerned about getting enough antioxidants in your diet, you can also add a supplement to boost your intake. Supplements with natural, plant-based ingredients, like vitamin C, turmeric, quercetin, elderberry, bacopa, and ashwagandha, can help your body produce its own antioxidants and achieve optimal cellular balance.

4. Fermented Foods & Probiotics

Including fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, in your daily diet can strengthen your immune health by helping it identify unhealthy pathogens. You can supplement your diet with a daily probiotic to make sure you get optimal benefits.

Probiotics also aid in healthy digestion and play a part in the health of your gut. Your immune system and gut work together to support your overall health.

5. Moderate Exercise

Making time for moderate exercise benefits your health in many ways. Most people should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Workouts don’t have to be long or intense. Some moderate exercise activities include a brisk walk or jog, a light hike, a nice swim, a bike ride, or aerobics. Participating in any of these activities weekly can help reduce inflammation and promote healthier immune cell turnover, which boosts your immune health. Want to fight the winter flu? Take a hike.

6. Daily Maintenance

Recently, we’ve all become more concerned with improving our overall health. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on your immune health. Diet, exercise, and supplements can be used in conjunction with stress management and relaxing activities to maintain your immune health. As a bonus, they can also help boost your mood during the winter months.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.