With the latest cold spell we recently experienced nationwide, winter can feel cold and long. But these easy tips can help you banish the blahs and boost your immunity as well as your mental and physical energy!
I find even just exhaling throughout the night as I sleep can be dehydrating, especially during these extra dry winter months. Dehydration is hard on your skin, kidneys and even your mental alertness. The body is mostly made of water and needs fluid to keep things moving and to produce mucus. Although you may not like the extra mucus, it is beneficial because it helps surround and evacuate undesirables from the body. Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, decaffeinated drinks and even bone broth to keep the body hydrated. Adequate hydration may boost a particular immune response enabling the body to be better able to fight off viruses. It is also especially important, if you run a temperature.
Reduce or Manage Stress
Stress suppresses the immune system. Try to keep from over-working, over-scheduling, and over-extending yourself. When you are stressed, cortisol rises. Cortisol temporarily suppresses the immune system, reducing the inflammatory response to viruses and bacteria. So, if you are stressed, you are more susceptible to catch a virus than people who manage stress well.
We can’t completely eliminate stress from our lives, but there are techniques you can use to transform how your body handles stress. In particular, using breathing techniques regularly has shown to be quiet effective at reducing cortisol levels. The slow controlled movement of the diaphragm that occurs with deep belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve then sends a signal to your brain telling it that breathing has slowed — because you purposefully slowed down a few minutes. This is a signal that the stressor is now gone. So, the brain then sends signals to the rest of the body to dilate blood vessels to lower blood pressure again, slow heart rate back down and tell the immune system to calm down as well. Doing this regularly helps keep cortisol levels stable and support the immune system.
Laugh and Socialize
With our busy schedules and social media, we are now isolated more than ever. It has been shown that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking. Socializing with friends and family can boost the immune system and your outlook. Time has to be intentionally set aside so you can connect with others but it is so worth it mentally and physically!
Laughing triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins promote an overall sense of wellbeing and even temporarily relieves pain. Watch a funny movie or look up a funny meme or talk with your kids or grandkids – they are bound to make you laugh! And, laughter is good medicine!
Eat Colorful, Nutrient-Dense Produce
Food is information and medicine. In fact, plants contain phytochemicals. These phytochemicals are natural vitamins and minerals that help support the immune system. Incorporating all the colors of rainbow each day helps support your body at the cellular level to produce the energy the cell needs to fight infections, heal, repair and perform at its best. When there are missing components in your diet, the body doesn’t have all the necessary ingredients to fully do its job at optimal levels. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli and yellow, orange and red colored fruits and veggies are loaded with Vitamin C, E, beta-carotene and so much more.
The body does most of its clean up work while we sleep. Lack of sleep has negative consequences on our blood pressure, cardiovascular health, hormone regulation, mental state and on the immune system. Put simply, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done. But, you will be even less productive when you skimp on sleep. And, cutting sleep will only lower your body’s ability to restore and repair. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Getting through the winter is hard enough, do your body a favor and get some shut-eye.
I know it is cold outside but exercise boosts your immune system, energy level and your mood! So bundle up and get out for a walk, go to an ice rink, play in the snow with the kids.
Finally, I want to leave you with a list of supplements that are known to be immune boosters. Be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these to your regimen.
Many of us are deficient in optimum levels of this sunshine vitamin, especially in the long, dreary winter. It plays an important role in our immune system as well as our mood.
Daily Immune Support
Immune boosting supplements contain ingredients like medicinal mushrooms, zinc, Vitamin C and other adpatagens1. Adpatagens are known to support immune health by supporting and balancing the endocrine system.
A good multivitamin will have the basics to help in covering diet gaps. However, the best vitamins come from real food.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano has strong antibacterial properties. Carvacrol2, one compound in oregano, has been shown to be as effective as traditional antibiotics.
Echinacea and Elderberry
Some studies have shown taking echinacea3 significantly reduces the risk if developing a cold because it increases the number of white blood cells, which are the cells that fight infections. Elderberry4 has been used in alternative medicine as an antiviral to treat colds, flu and sinusitis.
Even though the groundhog has predicted an early spring, take care of yourself these last few weeks of winter!