Exposure to cold and dry air is the Achilles’ heel of your immune system. Why? Viruses that typically cause infections and illnesses like the common cold spread more easily in cooler temperatures. Shorter days and less sunshine also reduce your daily intake of vitamin D, a nutrient that is well known for its health benefits.
But there is good news.
Easy changes to your everyday lifestyle can help give your immune system everything it needs to help fight infection and illness so you can stop the germs and bacteria before they get in.
How to boost your immune system naturally
Here are five easy ways to boost your immune system this winter:
- Eat healthy foods
Maintaining a healthy diet keeps the immune system balanced and ready to fight infections and viruses, so getting the proper nutrients should be a top priority for your everyday eating. Try leafy, green vegetables, fruits, lean meats and whole grains to keep your immune cells healthy and strong.
- Exercise regularly
Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. It also increases blood flow, lowers stress, decreases inflammation and can strengthen antibodies, which allows your immune cells to perform more effectively.
- Drink more water
Water does a lot more for your body than just keeping it hydrated. It helps carry oxygen to your cells, improves body functions and removes toxins to help keep you healthy.
- Get plenty of sleep
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Chronic sleep deprivation can starve your body of cytokines and other infection-fighting antibodies, which make you more vulnerable to inflammation and infection.
- Minimize stress
Stress and anxiety increase the amount of corticosteroid (the stress hormone) in your body, which can suppress the immune system and leave you at a higher risk of getting sick.
Three immune system killers you probably didn’t know about
Here are three things that can sabotage your healthy lifestyle and negatively impact your immune system:
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have been faced with loneliness and isolation, which negatively affect the immune system. Long-term stress related to loneliness can increase inflammation and lowers the body’s ability to defend against viruses and bacteria.
- Excessive exercise
Moderation is key when it comes to exercise. While regular physical activity can bolster your body’s immune response, intensive exercise done on a regular basis can actually compromise the immune system.
While personality is difficult to change, research suggests people who focus on positive aspects of their day can actually reduce stress and boost their immune system.
It’s important to keep in mind that these changes won’t happen overnight, but consistently healthy lifestyle choices can improve immune system function and stave off many infections. Living a healthy lifestyle can also increase longevity, reduce your risk of complications like obesity, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
If you’ve been sick and your symptoms aren’t going away or seem to be getting worse, visit Coastal Urgent Care of Gonzales. We are open for walk-in appointments seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.