Boosting Your Winter Immune System

With winter on the horizon, many folks’ health concerns turn to their immune systems.

Cold weather, more time inside and the hustle and bustle of the holidays (and perhaps a return to travel) can all challenge our health.

But supporting healthy immune function isn’t a trick. It comes from a foundation of simple, healthy habits.

And they’re ones that’ll benefit you all year long.

So if you want to stay healthy this winter, the time to start focusing on immune health is right now. 

There’s no magic to it, no matter what some might say. A well-rounded approach that gives your body what it needs is the best way to keep you fighting strong. 

First, you should commit to moving your body, as often as you can. Physical activity activates our immune cells during and right after exercise. A brisk walk, a bike ride, or even some body-weight exercise like pushups can help keep your immune system primed. 

Staying inside when it’s cold can make this a challenge. But it’s too important to ignore.  Bundle up, get out and move!

Next, be sure to stay on top of your vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a role in immunity, and while it’s not a magic bullet, clinical trials have shown that even moderate doses (400 to 1000 IU) help protect and support your body in multiple ways. Especially if you live in northern states where sunshine is at a premium, in wintertime, this is a must.

Then, focus on fiber. While fiber is a mixed bag when it comes to digestion and regularity, there’s no dispute about how it can support immune health. Most of your immune cells are found in the walls of your intestines. And beneficial fiber helps keep your good bacteria strong. 

Simply put, a healthy gut means healthier immune health. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses (beans and lentils), which is good advice all year long. 

Plus, a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables give you vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, many of which act as antioxidants. This supports immune system health too.

As does keeping up on your sleep. Sleep is a time of replenishment for all your major body systems, including immune function. 

Finally, try to reduce and manage your stress. Certainly, these are stressful times. When stress levels increase, our bodies go into “fight-or-flight” mode. This can put a real damper on immune function. So a “media diet” might be one of the best diets you can follow if you’re concerned about immune health. 

As I said, there’s no magic to staying healthy. All it takes is a little prep, and you can keep your body – and your natural defenses – primed and ready, no matter what the season.

But it’s best to start now, before Old Man Winter is here.

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