Winter is finally knocking on the door, and while that means things like twinkling lights and beautiful falling snow, it also tends to be the time of year when sickness runs rampant.
While it’s not the cold air that causes viruses to become a problem, a lot of other factors come into play. First of all, people spend more time indoors. During the holidays, you probably also spend a lot more time with family, friends, co-workers, etc. It’s easy to “catch” something from someone.
Persistent sickness may be a sign of something more serious. If you feel like you’re not getting better or your symptoms seem more severe, talking to your doctor is imperative. But if you’re just trying to fight off a winter cold or flu, there are ways to do that.
Let’s take a look at a few tips you can use this season to boost your immune system and increase your chances of staying healthy.
Look at Your Diet
What you put into your body can have a huge impact on the strength of your immune system. For example, eating sugary, processed foods can actually hurt your immune system. These foods inhibit the cells that work against harmful bacteria for a while.
Your diet should be well-balanced and full of things that are good for you, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. They contain essential vitamins and minerals necessary to keep your body strong and healthy. Winter is citrus season, which is perfect since things like oranges and grapefruit contain a lot of vitamin C. Instead of blocking out cell functions in the immune system, vitamin C gives those cells a boost, so they can fight against viruses and bacteria.
It’s also important to drink enough liquids. Staying hydrated will not only keep you from feeling sluggish, it will help your immune system to remove toxins from your system to keep you healthy.
If you really want to give your immunity a boost, try adding something new to your diet. Did you know that you can even eat bird’s nests? Certain types of edible bird’s nests can increase the production of “B cells,” in your body, which boosts the immune system. We’re not saying you should go pluck one from the tree in your front yard, but don’t be afraid to do your research on nests or other alternative diet additions that might help your immune system.
Take Extra Preventative Steps
There are many “little things” you can do throughout the season to keep yourself healthy. One of the most important things is to wash your hands. You’ve probably heard this little tip a million times, but that’s because it really makes a difference!
So many germs spread due to hand-to-hand contact, but think about everything you touch in a day and who may have touched those things before. It’s imperative to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, and right before you eat, so you don’t allow those germs to go anywhere near your mouth.
You should also try to get more sleep. Sleep helps to boost the T cells in your immune system, which can make it stronger. When you sleep, your body repairs itself from the day. A lack of sleep can actually make your immune system weaker and make you feel lethargic and fatigued. Thankfully, due to shorter days and chillier temperatures, it’s the perfect season for long winter naps!
Finally, try to reduce stress in your life. It’s impossible to get rid of it completely, but being chronically stressed actually weakens your immune system. Find techniques that work for you to reduce stress. These could include discovering your triggers, learning to manage your time, setting boundaries, exercising, or meditating. There is no one solution for managing stress, so try different things to discover what helps you to feel calm.
Staying Healthy All Year Long
These practices aren’t just meant for the winter season. You should try to take care of yourself all year long to prevent sickness. If you do, you won’t necessarily have to give your immune system a boost in the winter — it’ll already be strong from your consistent healthy habits! But, again, if you’re persistently getting sick, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
Sometimes, things like autoimmune disorders or thyroid problems can be the result of a weakened immune system. So, if you just don’t seem to be getting better, medical attention is your best option.
If you just want to fight away the typical cold and flu symptoms winter can often bring, though, keep some of these tips in mind. By taking just a few extra steps each day to protect yourself and give your immune system a boost, you can stay healthy and perhaps even avoid getting sick this year — and for years to come!