Heinen’s Wellness Consultant, Jaclyn shares some of her favorite tips & tricks to keep your immune system healthy especially during the colder months.
Eat Plenty of Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Herbs and Spices
Get more vitamin C from your fruits and veggies. Great food sources include berries, citrus, bell peppers, and dark green vegetables. Adding spices like garlic, ginger, or turmeric to your cooking, can help boost the immune system, too.
Try to avoid processed foods and limit sugar and alcohol, consuming too much of these suppresses the immune system.
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health. For an extra boost, add some fresh squeezed lemon into your water – it will provide some extra vitamin C!
Get Some Good Bacteria
It’s known that about 80% of our immune system is located in our digestive system. Keeping a healthy gut is very important to keep a strong immune system. Probiotics are good bacteria that can be found in fermented foods, such as raw sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, kefir, kimchi and kombucha, or you can take probiotics in supplement form.
Up Your Vitamin D
In the winter, our levels of the “sunshine vitamin” tend to drop even further. Unfortunately, too-low levels of vitamin D are linked not only to decreased immune function, but also seasonal affective disorder (a more intense version of the “winter blues“), and muscle and bone loss.
Try to soak up some sun outside even when it’s cold or you can get small doses of vitamin D from some foods like mushrooms, fatty fish, and egg yolks. You can even consider taking a vitamin D supplement, but always make sure to consult your physician prior to assess your current levels and needs.
Exercising is not only a great way to stay in shape, but it also increases our immune function and improves sleep quality. Try to get at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s only a long walk!
Relax & Rest
Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and makes us more vulnerable to illness. It’s important to take the time to do something you enjoy, but to also slow down and try to make time for relaxing activities like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or reading a book. Chronic fatigue is also known to increase risks of illness. The body rejuvenates and strengthens when it’s at rest. If you can, try to sleep 7 to 8 hours a day, and if needed, take an afternoon nap. Your body will thank you!
Wash Your Hands
Good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses — from the common cold to more serious infections. Make sure you get soap in between your fingers, on the backs of hands, and under the nails where germs like to hang out – and don’t forget the wrists!
Looking to learn more about ways to support your immune health? Check out this post from our friend, Lauren of Healthy Mom Project.