As a whole, your immune system does a wonderful job of protecting you against disease-causing germs and viruses. Most people know that wintertime is when many people get sick from the common cold and flu. In fact, researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York discovered why you are more susceptible to the cold and flu during the winter season. These micro-organisms are able to survive longer during the cold and dry conditions, which gives them more chances of getting passed around in tiny drops of water in the air. With over two hundred viruses causing the common cold, you will likely catch one or two of them during the winter months.
But don’t fear, for you can implement a few key prevention strategies to help you stay healthy this winter…
Research has shown that there are several ways you can boost your immunity. These include modifying your diet, your activity level, and taking dietary supplements that support your immune system. There are also other strategies that can help you avoid getting sick that you would probably never have thought of. Your first thought may be a vaccine or a flu shot, however, this can only get you so far. The good news is, there are other steps to help protect your immune system.
Your first line of defense is to adopt healthy-living strategies. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is the single best step in building a strong and healthy immune system. What does this mean to you?
• Eat a healthy diet consisting of nutritious foods including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of healthy fats
• Exercise regularly and stay active
• Maintain a healthy body weight
• Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
• Don’t smoke or vape
• Get plenty of rest/sleep and avoid stress
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and avoid taking your hands to your face.
Diet alone may not provide you with all the nutrients your body needs. Let’s face it, some people may not meet all their daily servings of vegetables. That’s where vitamins and supplements come in. Let’s take a closer look at some supplements that support the immune system.
Those with low vitamin D were one and a half times more likely to get a respiratory infection compared to those who have higher levels according to a study conducted in Finland. On another study done on bone mineral density with the subject population consisting of African-American women, determined that the non-placebo group taking Vitamin D reported three times fewer cold and flu symptoms than those who were taking placebo.
Recommended usage: 5000-15,000 IU per day
According to WebMD, Vitamin C is thought to be one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts say. It may not be the cure for the common cold (though it’s thought to help prevent more serious complications). But the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
Recommended usage: 1000-2000mg per day
This is an amino acid needed by your body in order to produce cytokines, small proteins that are released by your body’s white blood cells in response to infection. By increasing the cytokine levels produced by your white blood cells, you increase your body’s ability to fight off colds and flu. Glutamine also provides support to the health of your intestines. Your gut is your body’s largest user of glutamine. Much of your body’s immune activity takes place in your intestines, so increasing glutamine supplementation should be a high priority. (Check out GlutaLean).
Recommended usage: 5-10 grams per day
Experts have long known that vitamin A plays a role in infection and maintaining mucosal surfaces by influencing certain subcategories of T cells and B cells and cytokines. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with impaired immunity and increased risk of infectious disease. On the other hand, according to one study, supplementation in the absence of a deficiency didn’t enhance or suppress T cell immunity in a group of healthy seniors.
Recommended usage: 10,000 IU/ day
Several studies have suggested that a vitamin B6 deficiency can depress aspects of the immune response, such as lymphocytes’ ability to mature and spin off into various types of T and B cells. Supplementing with moderate doses to address the deficiency restores immune function, but mega doses don’t produce additional benefits. And B6 may promote the growth of tumors.” Note: You can get B6 from a B-complex vitamin supplement.
Recommended usage: 50mg/day
In addition to taking your vitamins, certain foods can also help you build a healthy and stronger immune system. You have heard the adage that your parents and grandparents have told you when you were a child, “Eat your vegetables or eat your broccoli.” Well great news, there are lots of benefits to eating your vegetables especially broccoli. Research indicates that brightly colored vegetables and fruits boost immunity better than most supplements. Eating at least eight servings a day helps keep the immune system in top form, and prevents it from overreacting—the cause of many immune-related diseases. Everdayhealth.com shared that by strengthening your stomach, it is another effective way of ensuring a healthy immune system. This is because “the microbes that live in your gut not only help your body digest food — they also help regulate your metabolism, hunger, weight, and immune system.”
Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and support the immune system. Yogurt is a great healthy snack to add to your diet. While there are no studies that show indicating this, yogurt contains probiotics which as I’ve mentioned has been shown to aid in digestion and promote immune system support.
Be sure you are getting plenty of exercise too. Staying active is another great way to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Try to do activities you enjoy doing. We recommend lifting weight and cardio, which can be done either in your home or a gym. If traveling to a gym is impractical, jogging, walking, riding your bicycle, or climbing up and down your stairs are all excellent activities.
Follow the helpful tips in this article to provide support for a strong and healthy immune system, during the winter cold and flu season. Stay healthy!
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.