How Can I Boost My Immune System In The Winter?
For many people across the country, the warm weather has well and truly waved goodbye by now in favor of chilly temperatures and darker days. While there are many upsides to wintertime (the holiday season, cozy clothing, and the beauty of that first big snowfall, to name a few!), the season brings a few negatives when it comes to your health.
As the days grow shorter, for instance, there is less daylight to enjoy. Because of this, many people may wrestle with fatigue or even a vitamin D deficiency. But that’s not all the winter brings when it rolls in every year – it also marks the beginning of cold and flu season. Since these illnesses are caused by viruses, it’s up to your immune system to fight them off in a timely fashion. But how can you make sure that your immune system is up to par this season?
If you’ve been wondering “How can I boost my immune system in the winter?”, wonder no more. We’ve got some great tips and advice for you below!
Why is boosting immunity in cold weather important?
Cold weather can be great for your health in many ways. According to research, not only can cold weather help people shed extra pounds, it also kills off many insects that harbor disease. That being said, research has also shown that cold weather increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases because of a rise in blood pressure.
As mentioned above, the spread of cold and flu viruses also increases during the winter months – viruses thrive when the air outside is colder and drier. We also mentioned a lack of vitamin D due to the pesky short days and weaker sunlight that come with the winter months. Vitamin D is important for the immune system because it enhances the action of certain white blood cells that are needed to help fight off infection.
Vitamin D has also been shown to help regulate both the innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate immune response is essentially a general alert system that reacts to anything it deems a pathogen, and the adaptive immune system involves specialized cells that know what type of pathogen they’re looking to get rid of. Without enough vitamin D in the depths of winter, you are far more susceptible to illness.
Which foods should you choose for an immune system boost in the winter?
There are plenty of in-season winter foods that can boost your immune system as you contend with the colder weather. Eating seasonally is great because there is less time between when the food was harvested to when it reaches your plate, meaning you eat a more nutrient-dense diet.
Since Vitamin D is so important for immunity, you might want to add mushrooms to your menu his winter – they’re a seasonal food this time of year and are full of vitamin D. Leafy greens such as kale can be harvested in the winter months and are jam-packed with nutrients that help the immune system. Beets are another winter food that can help give your immune system that extra push it needs because they are high in vitamin C and have a ton of iron, a nutrient that plays a vital role in the function of the innate immune system.
Other ways to strengthen immune system in winter
It isn’t just the food you eat that helps keep your immune system running at its best when the cold weather creeps in. There are many things you can do to keep your body ready to fight off anything that comes at it. Getting enough sleep is one thing everyone should be doing regardless of the season, but during the winter it’s especially important because of how changing seasons affect the internal clock. But keep in mind that oversleeping can be just as bad for your body as lack of sleep, so it’s important to find a happy medium for your immune system.
Exercise is another immune booster, but it can be harder to accomplish in the winter months. Not everyone has access to a gym, and it can be difficult to work yourself up to go outside and exercise when the temperature drops below zero. However, if your level of exercise significantly decreases during the winter, you may be weakening your immune system. Do your best to get active, even if it’s just taking a brief walk or running up and down a flight of stairs in your house or apartment building. Exercise equals stronger immunity.
You may also wish to opt for some immune-boosting supplements for the winter. Studies have shown that echinacea and zinc are both great supplements to take if you want your body to be a little stronger when it comes to fighting off infection.
What is the fastest way to boost immune system in winter?
There is no one method that will boost your immune system faster than others. Each method – whether it be diet, exercise, sleep, or supplementation – plays its own role in how your immune system functions. That being said, combining all the aforementioned methods will undoubtedly help to strengthen your immune system so you can stay healthy through the winter months.