With the changing season, our immune systems will have to work harder to fight off illnesses. This is partly due to our bodies getting less sunlight and vitamins, as well as several other factors.
In the winter, the cold temperatures can suppress the immune system making it more difficult to fight off a cold or the flu. Add that to the fact that the sun’s low angle makes for less vitamin D being absorbed by the body, and that’s often why people get sicker more often this time of year.
Make sure you know the signs of a weakened immune system. While not always immediately obvious, knowing if your system is a bit weaker can help you take the necessary steps to ensure your immune system is working the best it can.
Signs of a Weakened Immune System
A person with a weak immune system is likely to become sicker and more often experience infections than a person with a strong immune system. Oftentimes, those with weaker immune systems tend to get pneumonia, meningitis. bronchitis, and skin infections frequently. Other symptoms that your immune system could use a boost are:
- autoimmune disorders
- inflammation of the internal organs
- blood disorders or abnormalities, such as anemia
- digestive issues, including loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping
- growth and developmental delays in infants and children
Immune Boosting Tips You Can Try Today
But there are some natural ways to boost the immune system before it is rundown by the flu virus. By doing so, you are fighting off the infection before it overtakes your body, thus, significantly reducing being prone to colds and flu. You can help give your body the edge this winter by trying the following:
- Herbal Tinctures – Herbal tinctures are natural medicines that help with a variety of ailments. You can stimulate your immune system function to help shorten the physical and mental recovery periods of illnesses with Ready Nutrition’s™ Herbal Tincture Immune System Support for Cold & Flu Season. This tincture contains Lomatium root, a powerful herb that strengthens the body and supports the immune system. You could also try a homemade elderberry syrup extract. Elderberries have high levels of antioxidants making them perfect to help support the body through some ailments, such as the common cold.
- Teas – Herbal teas can also help boost your immune system. You can help fortify your immune system during cold and flu season with Ready Nutrition’s™ Immune Support Loose Tea Blend. Bioactive ingredients like echinacea, yarrow, lemon balm, elderberry, and marshmallow help you feel better naturally! As winter approaches, there are also the added benefits of drinking the tea hot. Drinking any warm liquid has the ability to calm our nerves, lower our stress levels, and decrease blood pressure as warmth itself is associated with comfort. As warm beverages also beg to be sipped as opposed to chugged quickly, it often means the person consuming the warm drink will be sitting down, calm, possibly reading, or just enjoying the quiet.
- Sleep – Getting enough quality sleep helps the body keep functioning at its best. I know when I don’t get enough sleep, I feel worse than if I had a cold! If you have trouble sleeping, try to look into ways to calm down before bed, such as drinking the aforementioned tea or exhausting yourself with exercise. Try to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine in the few hours before you go to bed. These vices all play a role in our sleeping habits, and not in a positive way. Caffeine and coffee can be amazing for the body, however, it definitely should be avoided before bed, unless you drink decaf.
- Probiotics – These teeny microorganisms help keep your gut running the way it should. Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are widely available these days. They give your body a healthy dose of probiotics, which are live microorganisms that are important to good digestion and overall health.
- Healthy Eating – Making sure that you are fueling your body with nutritious food will give you the energy needed to get enough exercise can improve your body’s infection-fighting ability. Additionally, exercise has been shown to improve mood and sleep quality – two things that can impact our immune system. Just a few minutes a day has been proven to improve mood and physical health.
- Elixirs – Taking a daily teaspoon of an elixir can increase the immune system. Elixirs like this recipe for elderberry syrup or a concoction made from lemon, ginger, and honey is an effective way to provide preventive medicine to your body and boost your health in the process. In fact, the health benefits of these ingredients for treating respiratory problems are unmatched.
- Get More Sun – In a previous article, we discussed the importance of getting as much sunlight as you can. “Sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. In the summer, a 10-15 minute exposure (minus sunscreen) is enough. However, above 42 degrees latitude (Boston) from November through February, sunlight is too weak and very few foods contain adequate levels of this essential vitamin. Low vitamin D levels correlate with a greater risk of respiratory infection. A 2010 study in kids showed that 1200 IU a day of supplemental vitamin D reduced the risk of influenza A. This vitamin is essential to managing stress, which too much of can also impact your immune system.”
- Fasting – While most trendy cold and flu treatments involve consuming popular superfoods (some of which do have merit) it turns out that abstaining from food can help keep you from getting sick in the first place. Fasting for three days causes your immune system to completely regenerate. It prompts your body to start eliminating damaged immune cells and to start generating new more efficient cells. After three days without food, your immune system is completely rebuilt from the ground up, which is helpful for anyone with a damaged immune system, such as the elderly or cancer patients.
- Spirulina – This blue-green algae has been shown to have an effect on the immune system as well as having a detoxifying effect on the body. As one article points out, “rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage… a number of animal and test-tube studies suggest that spirulina increases the production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses.”
- Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic – Apple cider vinegar has a fairly lengthy history when it comes to natural home remedies. It has been touted as a cure-all for almost everything; from helping blood pressure issues, fungal infections, to sore throats and even weight loss. And, because most germs can’t survive in the overly acidic environment, it’s perfect to take as an immune booster.
By trying a few (or all) of these wholesome and natural immune system boosters, you can keep your body running in tip-top condition during these upcoming cold months. No one wants to be sick, so give yourself a fighting chance this winter