Now that fall is here, you might be looking to strengthen your immune system to avoid catching one of the many “bugs” that become more prevalent in colder weather. It never hurts to incorporate a few immune-boosting tips into your daily routine, even if you feel healthy – especially since COVID-19 is still impacting our communities.
If you want to boost your immune system naturally but aren’t sure where to begin, this guide is designed to show you some ways to provide a strong line of defense against the flu, common colds, and other types of illnesses and infections.
Factors That Impact Immunity
A variety of factors can negatively impact your immune system and leave you susceptible to sickness. These include:
• Poor diet/lifestyle choices
• Depression and loneliness
Age and genetics may seem totally beyond your control, but lifestyle factors have been shown to play a significant role in biological age (how old you feel) vs. chronological age (your actual age). And, exciting new research is showing that healthy lifestyle practices can have a strong impact on how some of your genetics actually play out. Other factors such as stress and diet can most certainly be improved with better lifestyle habits.
The choices you make can help protect your immune system – even if you are busier than ever at work or in your home.
Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally
When it comes to strengthening your immune system, these basic lifestyle recommendations are the best place to start. Follow these steps to a healthy, happy autumn.
1. Get plenty of rest.
It seems like common sense, but numbers don’t lie and a lack of sleep can lead to serious problems. One study revealed that adults who slept fewer than 6 hours per night were more than four times more likely to get a cold than those who slept more than 7 hours. It can be hard during these challenging times to drown out the noise and get enough rest, but it is vitally important to do so. Try switching off all electronics prior to bedtime and creating a calm, peaceful oasis in your room. Include aromatherapy, if that appeals to you, and comfortable pillows.
2. Follow a healthy diet.
Eating nutritious food plays an important role in strengthening the immune system, as well as helping to control your weight and blood sugar levels. Incorporate plenty of vegetables, fruits, and complex carbs like oats and whole grains into your daily diet. Make sure to avoid excess sugar and caffeine, and limit processed foods, as those have been shown to contribute to a weakened immune response. Additionally, drink plenty of water each day to stay hydrated at all times.
3. Incorporate herbs and spices into your meals.
Spices do a lot more than flavor your food, and many can even contribute to a healthier immune system. Try cooking with turmeric and ginger, as both are roots that have anti-inflammatory properties. Adding oregano and thyme to your recipes can also help support the immune system.
4. Exercise regularly.
Research shows that people who incorporate exercise into their daily routine will enjoy the benefits of a strengthened immune system. Regular exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure, plus promote good circulation (which has been shown to naturally boost the immune system). So, whether you take a brisk walk around the block or do an intense hour on the elliptical, the benefits of a regular and consistent exercise routine are well worth the effort.
5. Take time for self-care.
It is easy to put yourself on the back burner when doing the difficult tasks of managing a career, a household, and/or familial relationships. Still, it is important to take some time each day for self-care, even if it is only 10 minutes. Self-care looks different for everyone, and what one person finds relaxing, another might not. Experiment to see what brings you the most peace – whether that is meditating for a few minutes or enjoying a phone call with a close friend – and try to incorporate it into your everyday routine.
6 Avoid unhealthy habits.
If you are stressed, it might be easy to turn to unhealthy habits to help alleviate the pressures of everyday life. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to a host of problems like dehydration, poor nutrition, depression and more. Another unhealthy habit to avoid is smoking, which does serious damage to the lungs, heart and overall health.
Important Supplements for Immune Support
In addition to incorporating the above tips into your everyday routine, adding nutritional supplements can provide your immune system the extra boost it needs for this cold and flu season. Here are a few of our picks:
• Vitamin C supports many systems in the body, including enhancing healthy immune function.
• Vitamin D plays an important role immune health, as well as bone density and bone strength.
• Zinc supports a variety of antioxidants in the body and helps to encourage healthy hair, skin and nails. Many Americans suffer from zinc deficiency, so incorporate this powerful supplement into your routine and start reaping the benefits.
• Probiotic supplements encourage healthy immune and digestive systems. Probiotics can be especially helpful when taking antibiotics or while traveling.
Feel Your Best This Season!
There’s a lot going on in the world these days, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Still, focusing on your mental and physical health can help you go into the holiday season feeling your best. If you have any questions about natural ways to strengthen your immune system, contact Village Green Apothecary to speak with a wellness expert today.