4 Natural Ways to Support Your Immune System This Winter
Maintain your health in spite of flu season.
As the hours of sunlight dwindle and the cold sets in, catching a case of the sniffles can seem inevitable. But there are steps you can take to care to care for your body’s immune system—and fight off infections more effectively. These natural tips for boosting immunity and strengthening your body’s core functions will help to keep you healthy throughout the chilly winter months.
1. Be strategic about what you eat.
Diet plays a big part in overall health and eating well-rounded, plant-based meals can offer your immune system a boost. Consider adding these foods to reap the benefits:
- Healthy fats: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, mackerel and herring or plant-based sources like chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and soybeans can help your immune system stay in tip-top shape.
- Antioxidants: The antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes can help protect the body against free radicals (created by environmental stressors like pollution) that create inflammation in the body. When in doubt, go for colourful foods like berries, oranges, red cabbage and beets.
- Probiotics: Varied gut bacteria can play a part in your immune system being able to differentiate between normal cells and invaders. To help that good bacteria flourish, eat plenty of probiotics, which are found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi.
2. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D isn’t just important for developing and maintaining strong bones and teeth. If you’re deficient—as is the case for about one third of Canadians—you’re also more susceptible to infection. It’s harder to get the recommended amount of vitamin D in the winter, when our bodies are covered up and there are fewer hours of sunlight, so supplementation can be a smart route for many people.
One such supplement is Cymbiotika’s Synergy D3 + K2, which uses liposomal, a delivery system for maximum absorption on a subcellular level. It includes three special ingredients:
- Vitashine™ D3: It’s the world’s only Vegan and Vegetarian Society registered plant-source of Vitamin D3 and is integral for strong bones and teeth, as well as the proper functioning of the immune system.
- Vitamin K2: In two important forms, MK-4 and MK-7, it’s essential for blood clotting, cardiovascular health and improving the efficacy of vitamin D3.
- CoQ10: In a high-absorption format, this antioxidant combats oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
3. Pencil in plenty of sleep.
Getting adequate shut-eye is key for your body to fight off infection. For adults, that’s seven to nine hours. Aside from making sleep a priority, there are several ways to make sure your sleep is good quality:
- Set a schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Optimize your environment: Keep your room dark (that might mean using blackout blinds or an eye mask), cool and quiet.
- Stash screens: Power down screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime… and don’t look at them again until your alarm sounds in the morning.
4. Watch those stress levels.
Psychological stress and loneliness may have an effect on immunity—especially in older people or those that are already dealing with illness. If you want your body to be able to fight off germs as effectively as possible, it’s best to learn how to cope with the stressors that cross your path. Here are a few tricks:
- Strengthen connections: Spend time with friends, especially ones that make you laugh or will encourage you to make healthy lifestyle changes.
- Learn to relax: Practice meditation or try deep breathing when you feel anxiety starting to creep into your body.
- Move more: Get out for a brisk walk, go for a bike ride or take a workout class to boost those endorphins.