- The Fall and Winter months are often associated with an increase in illness due to colds and viruses.
- There are a number of lifestyle changes that you can make to help boost your immune system naturally.
- Supplements can help you optimize your immune system by ensuring you achieve therapeutic levels of essential vitamins and minerals.
- Zinc supplements, essential vitamins, and high-quality protein powders can help you achieve optimal nutrition.
Fall and Winter see a rise in seasonal illnessAs we move into the fall and winter months, we face the challenge of increased illness due to colds and viruses. Cases of the common cold as well as other viral infections increase considerably as the weather gets colder and more time is spent indoors in close quarters with other people. Now is the time to start preparing your body and boosting your immune system in order to avoid a season of sickness and poor health. But what exactly should you be doing to prepare yourself? Let’s take a look at a number of lifestyle changes and supplements that can help you weather the worst of cold and flu season.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is your body’s most important restorative process, and your body needs to be given ample opportunity to rest and replenish itself. It is highly advised to aim for approximately 8 hours of restful sleep each night. This can be achieved by practicing good sleep hygiene, using fewer electronic devices before bed, and by unwinding well before your desired sleep time.
Eat a healthy diet
Fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein are important components of an immune boosting diet. Citrus fruits contain high levels of vitamin C (prevents and shortens infections), dark leafy greens are high in Vitamin A (for fighting infections), and lean meats are a terrific source of Iron (supports a healthy cardiovascular system). At this time of year, in particular, it is wise to avoid processed foods and empty calories that do little to nourish your body. Minimize highly-refined sugars in your diet, as sugar can have an immunosuppressive effect in the body.
Exercise not only benefits the body and supports joint health, but it can help improve your mood and energy levels as well. In the northern hemispheres, the winter months are marked by shorter daylight hours, which can have an impact on mental health and energy levels. By exercising regularly, you ensure your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems stay in top form, while also doing the physical work that’s involved in maintaining good mental health.
While this is definitely one item on the list that is easier said than done. By being aware of the need to slow down and breathe through stressful moments, you can temper your stress responses—those survival-related feelings of fight or flight. Stress has been proven to lead to increased headaches, chest pain, fatigue, body pain, chronic illness, and so much more. Finding ways to manage your stress levels is one of the best things you can do to give your immune system a fighting chance.
Stay hydrated!The only item on this list with an exclamation point, hydration is absolutely critical for your immune system. The human body is composed of 70% water, and replenishing body fluids is important for digestion, skin health, flushing toxins, and protecting joints. Be proactive and drink water throughout the day. While daily needs fluctuate according to age, sex, body composition, and activity levels, 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) per day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women is considered the minimum adequate amount. If you are thirsty, it likely means you are already headed towards dehydration!
In addition to the above lifestyle changes, supplements can play a major role in boosting your immune system. Supplements can help deliver key nutrients that may be either missing in your diet, or fall short of therapeutic levels.
Vitamin C has many important functions in the body, from wound healing to lowering the risk of heart disease. With respect to immunity, this critical vitamin can help prevent and shorten infections. It is found in citrus but also in peppers, kale, papaya and brussel sprouts, among others. Dosage during the winter can be up to 500 mg per day.
Zinc plays an important role in many aspects of the immune system. This mineral is required for the growth of new immune cells. At least 15 mg per day is needed during the winter. Dietary sources include oysters, yoghurt, chickpeas and lean meats. Allmax Nutrition offers ZMX, a combination of zinc, magnesium, and B6 that can be particularly beneficial for fighting deficiencies and boosting the immune system in athletes.
Vitamin DThis inexpensive vitamin is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D plays an important function in the regulation of the immune system, it essentially promotes your body’s immune response. It is found in sardines, mackerel and tuna. Drops or tablets can be used to increase vitamin D levels in the body, on average 2000 IU can be taken daily during the winter months.
Elderberry is a natural antiviral. Its flowers and berries are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants—specifically Vitamins A, B, and C. It has a wonderful taste and can be taken as a syrup or gummies.
Start Early, Supplement OftenEarly and wholehearted adoption of these lifestyle and supplement-taking habits will help you enjoy a healthy fall and winter. You can find immune boosting supplements, such as ZMX, high-quality low-fat protein powders, such as Isoflex, and a variety of other essential vitamins and minerals at allmaxnutrition.com.