Good hygiene and hand washing are important to prevent the spread of germs. But a healthy immune system gives your body the extra protection it needs to fight colds and flu this winter. Read the list below to learn how to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
- Hydrate: This seems like an obvious one. But too often in winter, the amount of water you drink reduces either because you are less thirsty or think you need less water because you sweat less. This cannot be further from the truth. In winter the outside air is cold and dry. And if you are indoors, the use of heater makes the air warm and dry, and you lose moisture with every breath you take. So, make sure you drink enough water in winter just as in summer to maintain your immune system. If plain water is not to your taste, then flavor your water naturally with mint leaves or use fruit infused water.
2. Vitamin D: This is one of the most important vitamins needed to support your immune health. You become low in this sunshine dependent vitamin in winter, which is when you need it the most. There are few foods that contain vitamin D such as fatty fish, egg yolk, cheese. Foods that are fortified with vitamin D typically have the less active form of this vitamin- D2 (ergocalciferol). If you decide to take vitamin D3 supplements, it is always a good idea to test your vitamin D levels first to help evaluate the amount you will need.
3. Vitamin C: Not only does taking vitamin C decrease the duration and severity of cold, it can also prevent colds. You can get vitamin C from several food sources – citrus fruits, guava, kiwi, peppers, strawberry, broccoli, rose hip jelly or tea.
4. Zinc: This essential mineral helps the immune system stay strong and fight infections. You can make sure to get enough zinc by eating zinc rich foods such as oyster, crab, beef, pumpkin seeds, dark meat chicken, chickpeas, cashews, oats, yogurt.
5. Eat a balanced meal with more fruits and vegetables: Vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, selenium and other micro-nutrients support your immune system to fight colds and infections. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of these nutrients.
6. Probiotics: About 70 percentage of your immune system is present in the Gastrointestinal tract, and your gut “good” bacteria and other microbes are responsible in maintaining this part of your immune system. Probiotics are helpful “good” bacteria that are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles. Make sure that your daily diet has enough probiotic containing foods.
7. Superfoods: There are some foods that can super charge your immune system and here are the top 5 foods from that list- garlic, ginger root, elderberry, mushrooms and turmeric. Talk to your Physician before taking turmeric in supplement forms or in high amounts in diet due to potential interaction with certain medications or if you have certain medical conditions as it can potentially increase bleeding.
8. Move to mobilize your immune cells: Regular exercise promotes circulation that carries immune cells and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, reducing your chance for getting a cold.
9. Get your zzz’s: Sleep is when your immune system works at its best. Lack of regular and adequate sleep can not only make you more susceptible to colds, but can slow down your recovery time.
10. Stress: Chronic stress suppresses and weakens the immune system. Manage your stress better if you want your immune system to work and stay strong.
The information and other content provided in this blog are for information purpose only, and not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider.
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Zinc, Fact sheet for Health professionals by Office of Dietary supplements, NIH, updated July 10, 2019. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
Vitamin C, Fact sheet for Health professionals by Office of Dietary supplements, NIH, updated July 9, 2019. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
Vitamin D, Fact sheet for Health professionals by Office of Dietary supplements, NIH, updated August 7, 2019. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/