As cold and flu season is around the corner, it’s important to discuss the ways to naturally support your immune system at this time of year. Prevention is key when it comes to health and wellbeing and preventing the onset of respiratory illnesses is something to work towards. Check out these natural ways to support your immune system and start to implement these into your daily diet and routine.
Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep and immunity are closely tied and often not given enough emphasis on the importance of a good nights sleep for immune system function. Inadequate sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness and a lower rate of recovery. Getting adequate rest helps strengthen your natural immune response allowing you to fight illnesses better.
If you have trouble sleeping, start by limiting screen time two hours before bed and try to get in regular daily exercise to help expend energy during the day.
Focus on a Whole Foods Diet
Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are rich in nutrients and support our immune system. There are antioxidants in these foods which help lower inflammation and prevent chronic disease. The fiber in these foods supports a healthy gut and a favourable gut microbiome can improve your immunity. Fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C can also help reduce the duration of the common cold. Removing processed foods from your diet and replacing them with whole foods is a great step towards immune system support.
Take a Probiotic Supplement
Did you know that the majority of our immune cells reside in our gut? Research shows that a healthy gut microbiome rich in favourable bacteria helps strengthen our immune system and our immune response to foreign invaders. Supplementing with a multi-strain probiotic is a good way to ensure you are introducing favourable bacteria into your gut and in turn strengthening your immune system. Speak with your healthcare provider about which probiotic is best for you.
Reduce Sugar Consumption
Research shows that added sugars and refined carbohydrates contributes to obesity which can increase your risk of getting sick. Cutting down on your sugar intake helps reduce inflammation, aids in weight loss and in turn has the potential to improve your immune system function. The best way to do this is to prepare your meals and snacks at home as often as possible so that you are in control of the ingredients in your recipes, as well as reading nutrition labels on packaged goods to inform yourself of the added sugars. Beware of hidden sugars in sauces and dressings!
Get your daily movement in
Moderate exercise is shown to boost your immune system function and prevent you from various illnesses. As well, exercise reduces inflammation and helps your immune cells regenerate. Some examples of moderate daily exercise include a 30 minute bike ride, swimming laps in a pool, a lengthy brisk walk or a 30 minute yoga class. Choose the exercise that makes you feel your best and that you are most likely to stick to longterm.
Manage Your Stress
Finding ways to relieve stress and anxiety is key to immune health. Long-term stress leads to inflammation and can weaken the immune system. If stress management is not already part of your daily routine, add in a few minutes of either meditation, yoga, walking or journaling to increase time spent doing mindful activities to relieve stress.
Supplements That Can Help
Before beginning a new supplement routine, speak to your healthcare provider about which supplements are right for you. Although there is no singular supplement that will completely prevent or cure a respiratory infection, there are supplements that can support your immune system.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency may increase your changes of getting sick so supplementing with Vitamin D will prevent this.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C has the potential to reduce duration of colds in adults and children.
- Zinc – Zinc helps reduce the duration of colds.
- Echinacea – Echinacea has been proven to help in the recovery from colds
- Probiotics – Probiotics are beneficial to help strengthen the gut microbiome which plays a major role in immune system response.
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