As cold and flue season come upon us, we are all in search of the same thing it seems: HOW CAN I AVOID GETTING SICK!?!?!
Over the years I've tried different things to help my family boost their immune systems and stay as healthy as possible over the winter. It's tough when you send your germ magnet to school to retrieve every virus imaginable. And pair that with a toddler who still puts anything she can find in her mouth......we've got the winning combination.
But there are some less talked about ways to boost your immune system this winter that could potentially keep you free from the worst viruses and bugs. These are the prevention tips that you won't hear on the Today Show, but they are tried and true and they work.
1. Check Your House
2. Make Probiotics Part of Your Diet
Our gut contains good bacteria that helps our bodies fight off bugs and viruses. Probiotics are a great way to keep that good bacteria in high numbers and keep the bad bacteria in check. Many foods have probiotics in them, for one, yogurt is a great source (watch that sugar number though!), as well as Kefir, fermented foods like kimchi and cabbage and kombucha.
Another way to promote the good bacteria in your stomach is by watching your sugar intake. Sugar can wipe that good bacteria away, leaving you susceptible to colds. Toxic tap water and fluoride in tap water are other things that battle your good bacteria and so you may want to take an added Probiotic supplement.
3. Get Outside
Soaking up some sun and some Vitamin D is a great way to boost your immune system. Our skin manufactures vitamin D when exposed to the sunshine, and the vitamin D from the sun helps facilitate normal immune system function.
Researchers have found that Vitamin D activates our immune system "killer cells" or T cells, which fights off serious infections in the body. They found that T-cells rely on vitamin D to activate, and if they are deficient in Vitamin D, they remain dormant and unable to fight for the body.
You can get vitamin D by spending 15-20 minutes out in the sunshine. But sometimes that's tough in the winter, when it might be easier to take a vitamin D supplement.
4. Laugh it Up
5. Practice Mediation
Meditation is a positive practice for so many areas of your life. But did you know that it also helps strengthen your immune system as it creates a positive mental environment? Mindfulness meditation actually increases activity in the parts of the brain (prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus, and right anterior insula) that control positive emotions and anxiety. In addition, these parts of the brain act as a command center for your immune system, which means when they are stimulated, your immune system functions at a higher, more effective level.
Practicing mediation as part of your daily routine will continue to manifest these positive thoughts and improve your immune system on a regular basis. The key to mediation is consistency, even if it's just for a few minutes a day.
If you missed our post on how to meditate, you may find it interesting to see just how easy it is to start a great habit.
6. Manage Stress
When stress hormones surge, your immune system function plummets. Your immune system is easily compromised by the stress hormone, Cortisol and as you get stressed out, so does your immune system.
Researchers have found a link between the mind-body interaction. Psychological stress results in reducing your body's ability to fight infections and viruses. Your immune system is a collection of cells that travel through the bloodstream and and are made up of B cells and T cells. Stress hormones reduce the number of these cells, leaving you open to viruses, and illness.
By simply identifying the source of your stress, you can begin to reduce it or remove it from your life completely. This article on stress and stress reduction is helpful in understanding how to reduce it. Exercise and meditation are also great ways to manage the stress you can't get rid of.
7. Get Your Sweat On