Here are several tips to help you boost your immune system and stay healthy in the winter months - especially now that we have hit those winter duldrums. Of course, to these you should also add hydration, given all the drying indoor heat, and getting adequate sleep (yes, more than 5-6 hours nightly). But put these few sensible actions into your actions and you should stay well until spring graces your window panes!
Wash Your Hands
How classic is this advice? The fact is, it’s so simple that people sometimes forget its importance! Sure we all do it (or at least I hope you do!) after we use the restroom, but washing your hands throughout the day is important to stay healthy. It’s simple hand washing that can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community. It’s one of the easiest, most effective ways to avoid getting sick.
Eat the Rainbow
Although it’s not really the season for certain fruits and veggies, make sure you’re filling yourself with lots of colorful produce! Whether it’s frozen or fresh, produce is the most important health tool money can buy. Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables will ensure you get all the essential vitamins and minerals you need, which is especially important in the winter when there is less sunlight and less time outside. There’s a lot of amazing root vegetables back in season and local farmer markets are stocked with kale, broccoli, apples, cauliflower, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potato. A healthy, nutrient dense diet is the best defense against sickness of any kind.
Yes, the winter weather is less than ideal, but get outside in the light and fresh air at least once a day. Not only is it good for replenishing your vitamin D needs (a key nutrient that aids our immune system and that most people become deficient in during the winter), but it also gets you out of the house! Being cooped up in the house for too long is not good for your psyche or your body. During the winter, mold and can build up in the house. This can trigger congestion, respiratory infections, wheezing, coughing, and even asthma attacks for those that have the disease. So get up, get out, and….
Move Your Body
Exercise is important all throughout the year, but even more so in the winter when we are naturally more sedentary. A regular workout routine is actually prime booster for your immunity. It REDUCES the risk of cold and flu, while improving your mood and raising your energy levels that can be so easily zapped in the winter. Not to mention it builds heat!
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a REAL THING! And it can affect a lot more than just your mood. Fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, and even physical discomfort can result from the changing of the seasons. The best way to beat the winter blues is to get outside daily (as I mentioned above), but also bolster your diet! Incorporate nutrient dense foods like kale and fresh herbs as often as possible. Foods that are high in calcium and magnesium are said to improve stress levels, lift you out of SAD-related moods, and overall keep you more healthy and happy.