We’ve officially bid summer farewell, which means a drastically decreased risk of heat stroke and insect-borne illnesses (mosquitos, that means you). Just because the hot weather has subsided doesn’t mean we’re outta the woods yet, though. There’s still the matter of doing little things to make your immune system strong AF this winter.
Neglecting your health can really do a number of your body’s natural defense mechanisms.
Keep in mind that your immune system is more likely to succeed in stopping common colds, the flu and other pain-in-butt winter illnesses dead in their snotty-nosed tracks if you don’t do things to sabotage its efforts.
The immune system is comprised of a built-in network of tissues, cells and organs that do their best to keep you from gettng sick when you *really* don’t want to be (read: basically anytime but especially not during cold/flu season, arghhh). Luckily, you still have time to get out in front of any seasonal ailments that cannot wait to crop up and basically ruin your life.
Here’s how to ensure that your immune system helps you stay healthy when the cold, dreary weather threatens to drag you and your body down with it.
1Load up on foods that strengthen your immune system.
The usual healthy food suspects are included on the list, but ramping up your intake of yogurt, sweet potatoes and green tea will go a long way toward strengthening your immune system this winter.
2Take a probiotic.
One way to avoid falling victim to winter-induced illness is by taking probiotics to assist the immune system.
As Livestrong writes,
“A study from Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that New Zealand athletes had about 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections when they took a probiotic compared to when they took a placebo.”
3Eat foods that are high in Vitamin D.
There is some research that suggests Vitamin D supplements aren’t very effective and may actually be harmful to your body. To be on the safe side, avoid taking it in pill form. Instead, get your daily dose from sun rays and eat lots of foods that are rich in Vitamin D. Doing so will help to stave off infection and even help alleviate the symptoms of depression, which is known to weaken the immune system.
4Practice clean sleeping.
Don’t wait until winter to start taking your sleeping cues from grizzly bears. Now is the time to embrace the clean sleeping trend, which means getting at least seven to eight solid hours of shuteye every single night.
5Get rid of little stressors.
The biggest favor you can do to your immune system before winter rolls around is to find ways to eliminate as many stressors as possible. Now is the time to get rid of anything that’s been bugging you, whether it’s that pile of old clothes you’ve been meaning to donate or any unnecessary commitments you’ve made that can be dropped.
6 Drink more water.
It’s tempting to sit around chugging Starbucks’ tasty fall drink du jour every single day between now and December 21. But while you’re inhalin’ PSLs, be sure you get plenty of H₂O in your system, too. You should start drinking more water now to help flush toxins out of your system that could potentially build up and impair the immune system.
Obviously, this may pose a challenge during a time of year when holiday-related frenzies causes so many people to push themselves a little too hard in the form of traveling to see family, shopping for Christmas gifts or working overtime to make up for those spending sprees. But now more than ever, it’s majorly important to prioritize your well-being over everything else.
Start by clearing some things off your schedule, taking a nice road trip or using some PTO for a mental health day. Do anything (even if it’s nothing at all) to put you and your immune system in the zen zone.