Every winter we see that illness among friends and family goes on the rise. With more people in close proximity to each other and packed inside homes, offices, schools, and public places, there’s more opportunity for illness swapping and virus sharing than other times of the year.
The cooler temperatures also ensure that viruses can live longer on a variety of surfaces and in the air. The National Institute of Child Health recently noted that viruses thrive best in colder temperatures – forming a rubbery outer covering, or shell, that is reduced to a more gel-like substance in warmer weather. This means that cooler weather actually makes it easier for them to stay protected and pass from person to person in the winter months.
Thankfully, there are precautions we can take and ways to boost our natural immunity to make ourselves less susceptible to illness as the temperatures drop. Here are the top four ways to boost immunity in preparation for weathering the seemingly inevitable seasonal sickness.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
All whole natural foods contain immunity-boosting phytonutrients, like Vitamin-C and carotenoids that increase the body’s production of white blood cells – soldier cells of the body and first responders to invaders and infections.
When you add more fresh whole foods to your diet, not only will you aid digestion and other body processes with important vitamins and minerals, but you’ll also be quantitatively aiding your body’s natural defense against viruses and other diseases.
The results are fast acting too. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that phytonutrients – like those found in a diet rich with fruits and vegetables – were able to slow oxidative damage within only a few hours of consumption.
Get more sleep
If you can forgo some Netflix bingeing or Facebook scrolling time in the winter months and hit the sack early, the extra sleep time can boost immunity enough to keep you healthier.
Adult studies of sleep deprivation indicate that lack of sleep deprivation can make us more susceptible to illness. It produces a stress-like response that puts the natural killer cells – the immune system font-lines that are there to attack microbes, viruses, and cancer cells – on the offensive. Psychology Today noted that sleep deprivation is as dangerous as stress when it comes to our immune systems.
Thankfully the winter months provide ample darkness in a 24 hour period to realistically be getting enough sleep if we time it right. You may even create a new sleep pattern and habit that keeps you healthier year-round.
Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
Don’t pressure your doctor to prescribe antibiotics for every illness, and be wary of any doctor who does! Make sure you really need antibiotics before taking them. Systemic antibiotics affect your whole body and can kill off both nuisance and healthy bacteria in your gut – making you more susceptible to future illness after you finish the dosage.
If you do have to take antibiotics, make sure you’re also supplementing with probiotics as well. You can find probiotics in fermented food sources. Kombucha tea, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kefir grains, and yogurt are all excellent and healthy sources for natural probiotics. You can also take a probiotic supplement in capsule or powdered form to grow back your healthy gut bacteria and boost immunity.
Fight the germs
Technically, fighting germs does not actually boost immunity, but it can help protect you from illness and reduce stress on our body’s defense systems. Practice hand washing with warm water and soap for a count as long as the whole English alphabet. Also, be sure that you’re guarding other family members from germ transfer by taking additional preventative steps like sneezing into an elbow and covering your coughs.
While you can’t technically get the same virus twice once you have immunity, bacterial infections can be caught again and transmitted easily. One novel tip is to throw out toothbrushes if you get a bacterial throat infection. The bacteria can easily jump from toothbrush to toothbrush in a bathroom cup or cabinet and potentially infect other members of the home. The germs can even re-infect a just-healed person. Better to toss out the older brushes than risk additional infections.
Staying healthy this winter is as easy as filling up with gut-friendly foods and boosting immunity naturally. With some hand-washing and other preventive steps you can try to ride through the winter cold season virtually symptom-free.
Mittens – copyright-free image from pixabay
Guest Author Bio
Christine Rudolph is a passionate blogger who loves to write on prevailing trends. She is a featured author at various authoritative blogs and magazines. For more updates follow her on Twitter @RudolphBlogger.