Are all your co workers coughing or calling in sick? Have you recently had a viral infection passing from one family member to another? What can you do to support your immune system during the winter when everyone is more vulnerable to infections that knock you down for weeks?
- Create humidity in your bedroom and office with a cool mist humidifier. Many viruses enter the body through the nose. When the lining of the nose is dry, it is much more likely to be vulnerable to infections. If a humidifier isn’t practical then consider using a steam sauna at your gym, taking a warm shower at least once a day or use a small bottle of nasal saline to mist in the nose at least once a day and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Be especially mindful of these ideas after being out in the cold air or when your home heating is on 24 hours a day. The forced heat in modern homes creates very dry air.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C and zinc. Both nutrients support a healthy immune response. My favorite sources of zinc are chickpeas and lentils, nuts and seeds. My favorite sources of C are strawberries, kiwis, raw bell peppers and broccoli. These are also inexpensive supplements that can be added in during cold and flu season for extra immune support.
- Don’t skimp on sleep. Sleep allows our body to recover from the stress of the day which is exactly what our immune system needs to keep us strong and resilient to germs. Aim for at least 7 hours a night and even more if you are stressed or sick.
- Keep processed sugar out of your diet. Processed sugar has an undesirable effect on the immune system response to viruses. During the holidays we may be increasing our sugar intake by several cups a week once we add up drinks, desserts, treats, parties, snacks and the cravings we get when we are stressed out. Look for sugar in the ingredient lists of foods and try to remove those from the diet. Natural sources of sugar like fruit are good to be consuming instead. These foods have vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients that will be beneficial for your immune system.
- Wash your hands frequently instead of using sanitizer and avoid rubbing your nose and eyes when you are in public spaces like malls, on workplace computers, at gas stations or taking care of young children. Just basic hygiene measures can cut down on your exposure to transmitting infections.
- When you get the first signs of illness, scratchy throat or low-grade fever. Consider natural solutions first. Many infections start as a virus and are not effectively treated with antibiotics. Gentle homeopathic remedies, herbal preparations or essential oils are helpful and relieve symptoms. Contact a knowledgeable source like Waller Wellness Center for medical practitioners that will help guide your natural choices.