Winter is here, and that means our immune systems are more important than ever. We all know about the prevalence of cold and flu during the winter months, and how the immune system works to fight off and prevent these viruses and “bugs” from taking hold. We know that if we do come down with something, making a full recovery could take days or even weeks. That means lost productivity and less quality time with the people we love.
What we may not know are all of the ways in which we can strengthen our immune systems and prevent these unwanted illnesses from affecting us this winter. Here are some of the most basic, effective, healthy ways to keep your immune system strong during cold and flu season.
1. Pay attention to diet
The connection between diet and immune function is well-documented in medical science. To keep your immune system in top form, increase the amount of whole foods in your diet. This includes fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy grains, seeds, nuts, beans, and quality proteins. The more we indulge in heavily processed foods, deep fried snacks, sugary soft drinks, or foods that contain high amounts of fat, sugar and artificial ingredients, the harder it is for our immune systems to protect us from illness. By focusing on foods that are simple and nourishing, we can strengthen our immune systems throughout the winter.
2. Get enough sleep
Regular and sufficient sleep is another vital part of keeping our immune system’s strong. When we sleep enough, and on a regular schedule, the body is able to deeply rejuvenate and replenish it’s defense mechanisms.
Seven to eight hours every night is considered a healthy amount of sleep. A short afternoon nap may also be beneficial. Getting enough rest during the winter is a surefire way to boost the immune system and keep you healthy.
3. Stay hydrated
Drinking a lot of water cleanses the lymph system, which in turn allows white blood cells to be carried more efficiently throughout the body. Medical professionals agree that drinking an 8 ounce glass of water eight times every day is a healthy practice. This translates to roughly 2 liters of water. Vitamin C is also good for the immune system; but don’t think you always have to reach for the orange juice. We can also get a shot of Vitamin C by putting lemon or lime in a glass of water.
4. Stay fit
Regular exercise boosts the immune system in clearly documented ways. It also helps us to sleep better and improves overall health. Establishing a regular exercise routine this winter is another important measure for the health of your immune system.
Keeping your family healthy this winter
These are four simple ways to strengthen your immune system and keep it strong throughout the winter months. Let’s not forget the importance of updated flu vaccinations, especially for children. All major medical organizations recognize flu vaccinations as the most effective way to prevent winter illness. Visit your local urgent care center for vaccinations, and for more information on keeping your immune system healthy.