Winter not only brings the promise of warm drinks and cozy sweaters, but it also brings along something much more sinister in the form of stuffy noses, sneezes, sore throats, and irritating coughs. If you are smart, you are taking steps now to boost your immune system and give it a fighting chance against cold and flu season. Because, unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold, so prevention is your best choice. However, you may want to ease up on those vitamin C tablets you’ve been eating like candy (as they’re not incredibly effective) and try these easy, natural methods instead.
Drink lots of water
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking lots of water is one of the most critical things you can do to boost your immune system and keep that winter bug away. Though there is some debate regarding how much water you should actually drink, a good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces every day and more if you are exercising or sweating.
Most adults need at least 8-10 hours of sleep each night to stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system. Even if you think you can function on less sleep and more caffeine, there is a possibility that you are overworking your body. Follow a consistent sleep routine and try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Alcohol doesn’t do your immune system any favors. Stick to water, and hot herbal tea as cold and flu season approaches and stay away from the bar until the threat passes. This temporary abstinence could also help your liver (and your wallet).
Eat fresh fruits and veggies
Along with water, fresh fruits, and vegetables are key for warding off those prevalent germs. Fill your diet with vitamin-rich vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and spinach and fruits like oranges and kiwis. It is also a good idea to eat more garlic, nuts, seeds, and greek yogurt, which contribute to gut and immune health.
Exercise is a good idea at any time of the year, but it is especially important when your immune system is at risk. Spend 30 minutes walking, running, biking, or any other activity that increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. It is a great way to increase circulation and encourage your immune function.
Reduce your stress
Take some time to address the stressors in your life and limit or eliminate your exposure to them as much as possible. Those extra activities that just suck up your time and you don’t even enjoy? Learn to say no and simply do what brings you joy. Mental health can take quite a toll on your body, and the physical manifestations of stress push your systems into overdrive. Embrace self-care and take time to read, meditate, journal, or whatever other activity helps you wind down.
Though it’s a little discouraging to think about, you are most likely surrounded by toxins at this very moment. Take a look through your cleaning supplies, beauty products, and laundry detergent and attempt to read the labels. Unless you’ve already switched to natural products, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to understand what you’re reading. Think about it, you are putting those chemicals with other unknown ingredients all over your skin, and they are directly impacting your body and compromising the delicate balance of your immune system. Embrace a chemical-free life today.
Fun fact: Contrary to popular belief (and what your mother would yell at you as you walked out the door), going outside without a coat on does not increase your risk of getting sick. You won’t necessarily be very comfortable, and you could get frostbite if you stay out too long, but being cold doesn’t give you a cold. Of course, the winter months are usually the hot time for germs to be foaling around, which could be the origin of this longstanding myth.
What are your favorite ways to give you immune system the love it deserves? And how do you deal with a cold when it comes your way? Let us know in the comments below!