As we approach the dreaded cold and flu season, it is a good time to remind ourselves of things we can do everyday to enhance our immunity against viral and bacterial infections.
No one likes to be ill and (as I have embraced a more natural lifestyle) members of our family now rarely become ill during cold and flu season. There is still an occasional stuffy nose or sore throat but they don’t develop into anything further and are easily managed with home-made remedies and rest.
Here are some steps to follow all-year-round, but particularly during cold and flu season, to strengthen your immunity.
1. Get quality sleep
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a good night’s sleep to maintain your immune system. Sleep is essential, allowing your immune system to strengthen and be ready for the “battle” against pathogens it comes across.
Plan to get a good night’s sleep—going to to bed at the same time, not taking your phone or tablet to bed with you, sleeping in a cool (not cold) and dark room and avoid turning on lights during the night as this will disrupt your quality of sleep.
2. Minimize stress
Being in a continual state of stress (whether resulting from a lack of sleep or from the stressors of daily life) causes your body to release cortisol, and long-term, elevated levels of cortisol suppress the immune system.
Try adding meditation or yoga to your daily routine to relieve stress.
3. Optimize your vitamin D levels
Vitamin D has an important role in the functioning of your immune system. This may be why people become more susceptible to illness in the winter months, when natural vitamin D levels are lower in many places.
If possible try and get 10-15 minutes of sunlight on your bare skin each day. If that is difficult, try an indoor sun lamp or a Vitamin D supplement. Have your levels tested by a doctor to find the appropriate dose of supplement that may be needed.
4. Introduce probiotics into your daily routine
This is very important! Probiotics work to keep the “good” bacteria in your gut healthy and flourishing. In return this allows your immune system (which is largely based in your gut) to be able to fight pathogens it comes across and prevent you from becoming ill.Fermented foods are an excellent way to introduce probiotics into your daily diet. Click To Tweet
Kefir and fermented vegetables are rich sources of probiotics. During the winter I make a Kefir smoothie each morning for my family. Kefir is full of strains of probiotics often not found in supplement form. When put into a smoothie it is very palatable and easy to make. Click here to learn how to make Kefir and understand its benefits.
5. Add antimicrobial foods
Garlic, onion, coconut oil and cinnamon are known to have antimicrobial properties. Use these food liberally in your meals. They are easy to incorporate and have a positive effect on immune function.
6. Drink filtered water
Aim to drink 2 liters per day. Water is a great way to flush out and prevent a build up of toxins in your body. This allows your immune system to function more effectively as it is not stuck trying to alleviate toxicity within the body.
7. Go Organic
Buy and consume organic foods whenever possible. Conventional grown foods contain more toxins that the body needs to process and eliminate, putting additional strain on the immune system.
Reduce toxins buy eating organic. An easy way to start reducing toxins is by going organic with organic produce and meat.
8. Eat whole, unprocessed foods
Sugar and processed foods have a negative effect on immune system function. Immune function is suppressed for a few hours after eating sugary foods. Opt for fresh vegetables and fruit instead.
Look for fruit and vegetables that are bright in colour, as these are often high in vitamin C and vitamin E and zinc, which enhance immune function.
Try making your own vegetable juice; it is an easy fast way to get nutrients into your body. Here are some tips on juicing.
9. Exercise moderately
Moderate regular exercise (such as a 30-minute walk each day) can improve your immune system’s ability to fight infections. Exercise also releases hormones that release stress and improve quality of sleep.
10. Laugh and be happyPositivity & laughter greatly benefit your health—and there's tons of research to prove it! Click To Tweet
Laughing relieves stress, releasing positive hormones and simply makes you feel good. Laughing increases the flow of lymph throughout the body, and important in building natural killer cells to fight infection.
Laugh your way to a stronger immunity and good health!