We're well and truly in the thick of winter now, meaning coughs, colds, sniffles and sneezes are feeling all but unavoidable (if you haven't already been sick!).
These winter months are challenging for your immune system as you spend more time indoors, in close quarters with others, and out of the fresh air. The good news is several key practices can help you bolster your immune system this winter.
Let's get into it!
Key Practices to Boost Immunity
To fortify your immune system, consider implementing these science-backed practices:
#1: Dial in Your Nutrition
Nutrition is crucial in supporting the immune system, providing the necessary building blocks for the body to function correctly.
Choose foods that are abundant in fortifying vitamins and minerals to give your body the best chance at staving off sickness.
Vitamin C has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.
For more vitamin C, choose citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Red bell peppers are also a great choice, containing almost three times as much vitamin C as oranges. Also in the vegetable section: spinach is packed with vitamin C and a type of vitamin A called beta-carotene, which provides added immune support.
Selenium is a trace element that can help boost white blood cells, which improves the body's ability to fight illness and infection.
For a boost, just one Brazil nut a day is more than enough, containing 96 mcg, or 175% of the RDI.
Probiotics can support immunity by regulating gut health, increasing the production of immune cells, strengthening the gut lining, and blocking the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.
Yogurt is a great source of probiotics, plus it typically contains fortifying vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Choose a vitamin D-fortified yogurt for even more benefits!
Antioxidants help you stay healthy by protecting the structural integrity of cells and enhancing immune cell function.
Coffee contains various compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Add a scoop of The Good Stuff™ to take it a step further. Each serving contains cinnamon, which may contain powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, to aid the immune system.
Psst! Whip up this fortifying smoothie that includes several of the above foods!
#2: Engage in Moderate Physical Activity
While intense, prolonged exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can enhance it. Research has shown that even a single session of moderate exercise can improve the efficacy of vaccines in individuals with weakened immune systems.
Moreover, habitual moderate exercise has been shown to diminish inflammation and facilitate the regeneration of immune cells.
Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Try to aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly.
#3: Manage Your Stress
Stress and immune function are closely linked.
Chronic stress has been shown to trigger inflammation and disrupt the balance of immune cell functions. These effects can make you more vulnerable to illnesses and certain diseases. To effectively manage stress, consider incorporating meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and other mindfulness practices into your routine.
Additionally, consulting with a licensed counselor or therapist can provide valuable support.
#4: Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is known for its benefits in strengthening our bones. It also plays a crucial role in supporting your immune system by bolstering T cells and macrophages, which are integral in fighting diseases.
You can obtain some vitamin D through food, but even milk—commonly praised as a good source of vitamin D—doesn't provide enough of it.
Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to a deficiency, hindering immune function.
It's estimated that more than 40% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. Consider consulting with your doctor for a simple blood test to determine if you fall into this camp.
Little known fact: our Superfood Focus Bites actually contain 150% of the recommended dietary intake of vitamin D2! It's an incredibly tasty way of strengthening your immunity.
#5: Use Supplements Wisely
While supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle, they can be a helpful tool to fill in the gaps in your diet and support your immune health. However, choosing them wisely is crucial, opting for high-quality, reputable brands. For Wellness offers high-quality functional nutrition supplements designed to promote longevity, performance, and optimal well-being.
One supplement that would make an excellent addition to an immune-boosting routine is, of course, The Good Stuff™. This powerhouse powdered supplement is packed with ingredients known to increase energy, reduce inflammation, improve focus, promote skin health, and boost hydration.
Add it to your coffee, smoothies, and shakes for an extra health boost and added mocha flavor.
Your Blueprint for a Healthier Winter
To keep your immune system in tip-top shape for the rest of this winter season (and beyond), apply the healthy living tips you learned today:
- Maintain a balanced diet rich in immune-boosting foods like citrus, spinach, and coffee.
- Engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly.
- Incorporate stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, journaling, and yoga.
- Check and optimize your vitamin D level.
- Choose high-quality supplements like The Good Stuff™ to support your diet.
Remember, small daily actions can significantly impact your overall health and resilience.
Written by Katie Koschalk, a health and wellness writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and certified personal trainer based in California.
The information in this article is not intended as health advice. Consult with your doctor or a medical professional and follow safety instructions before beginning an exercise program or using a Dietary Supplement if you are undergoing treatment or on medication or have a medical condition.