Winter is a wonderful time of year. There are many religious celebrations, festive decorations are all over the place, and most areas of the country get a lot colder and some even have snow. What a great time to enjoy holiday celebrations with family and friends.
But we all know that the winter weather brings a chill, as well as an increased risk of colds, coughs, sore throats, and other ailments. Most of us get sick at some point during the winter, which is why it’s so important to boost your immune system and its defenses against invading viruses and bacteria.
What can you do to prepare your body for winter? Here are some winter health tips to help you enhance immune system function and get your body (and home) prepped for the coming chill:
1) Eat More Veggies
Vitamins A, C, E, and K are all needed for a healthy immune system. Iron, folic acid, copper, and other minerals also play a role in immune enhancement. Where is the best place to get these vitamins and minerals? From veggies, of course!
Dark, leafy greens are an amazing source of Vitamins C and K. Carrots, pumpkins, squash, and other orange veggies are the best sources of Vitamin A. Avocadoes and olives will provide your body with a healthy dose of Vitamin E. All veggies contain minerals, so they’re the best to help boost your body’s immune response. The more veggies you add to your winter diet, the healthier you will be in the cold months to come!
2) Prepare a Soupy Menu
Did you know that chicken soup is one of the best immune-enhancing meals out there? Cooking chicken in soup releases a compound called carnosine, which helps to fight flu viruses and protect you from colds and coughs. Adding veggies into your soups will deliver an even greater dose of vitamins and minerals, keeping your immunity strong. Squeeze in a bit of lemon (it adds a wonderful flavor to your soup) will give you more Vitamin C. All in all, soup can be your best friend this winter!
3) Add More Color
The more colorful your food, the more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and compounds it contains! Here are a few amazing foods to add to your diet this winter:
- Red meat
- Red chili peppers
- Kiwi fruit
All of these foods are rich in the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy this winter!
4) Eat More Zinc
While most people turn to Vitamin C to help cure the colds and flus that are so common during the winter, the truth is that zinc is the most effective immune-boosting nutrient. Your white blood cells use zinc to attack the pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that invade your body. Zinc is one of the best cold-fighting nutrients around, so eat more pumpkin seeds, shellfish, and shrimp to add more of this vital minerals to your diet.
5) Get More Vitamin D
When you spend all winter indoors to escape the chill, your body doesn’t get enough Vitamin D–which is produced when you spend time in the sun. A lack of Vitamin D can cause problems, specifically a reduction in calcium absorption. Calcium is needed to activate the T-cells that are your immune system’s “hunter cells”. Thankfully, you can get more Vitamin D (and thus calcium) from full fat cheddar cheese, milk, oily fish, and mushrooms. Eat at least one of these foods daily to get the Vitamin D your body needs!
6) Strengthen Your Gut Bacteria
Did you know that close to 80% of the immune activity in your body takes place in your intestines? The bacteria that live in your intestines play a large role in your immune health, so it’s a good idea to keep your gut bacteria healthy. How can you do that?
Feed them. Leeks, garlic, onions, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes contain compounds that “feed” the bacteria in your gut. Eat more of these foods to help your beneficial gut bacteria flourish.
Send reinforcements. Kimchi, probiotic yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir all contain live bacteria cultures that will act as reinforcements to the bacteria living in your gut. Eat more of these foods, and you’ll have a much stronger immune–and digestive–system.
7) Avoid Decimation
Medications and antibiotics can kill off all the bacteria in your intestines, leaving you vulnerable to harmful pathogens that can cause colds, flus, and other infections. If you don’t NEED to take medication, don’t! Let your gut bacteria handle the problems.
8) Consider a Flu Shot
You may not love needles, but would you prefer to spend this winter fighting the flu? The peak time for the flu is from February to May. Consider taking a trip to the doctor for a flu shot, which will help to boost your immunity to the influenza virus. While you’re there, you can get your yearly checkup to make sure you’re in good health!
Note: The Centers for Disease Control has locations in your local area to get a flu shot.
9) Find Activities to Enjoy
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health! A staggering number of people suffer from depression over the winter holidays, and we’ve all felt the dull, low mood that sets in with only a few hours of daylight. It’s time to find indoor activities that will keep you active, happy, and moving! Combatting depression is the key to enjoying the long, dark winter.
10) Try a Supplement to Enhance Your Immune System
Give your immune system a boost with a healthy supplement! Well Wisdom’s Glut Immune contains glutamine, one of the most important amino acids for your health. Glutamine is needed by the immune system and intestinal tract as fuel during cell replication. Sufficient levels of glutamine improve immune system activity and maintain the strength of the intestinal lining. You’ll find that adding glutamine to your winter diet is a great way to stay in shape and fight off illness!
Winter can be a wonderful time of year, provided you take steps to protect your body! The tips above will help you do everything you need to in order to stay happy and healthy all winter long.