Have you gone years without so much as a sniffle the past few winters, or are you the opposite extreme—barely finishing one cold before coming down with another? If you’re the latter, it’s time to start boosting your body’s immune system because winter is just around the corner.
Our ability to fight off colds and flu directly relates back to our overall health. A strong immune system can be the difference between a pleasant winter and a miserable one, so here are some scientifically proven (yet natural) ways to boost your immune system, and prepare your body for the long winter ahead.
De-stress. Stress is the body’s #1 enemy because it raises a hormone called cortisol in our body, and this hormone suppresses the immune system. While getting rid of stress is easier said than done, it’s important to identify the things in your lives that calm you down and make you happier. Once you know what those are, do them—often!
Sing. Research shows that singing is an effective immunity booster. So even if you can’t carry a tune, or if your dog hides under the bed when you sing, don’t let that stop you. Your singing may not be good for others, but it’s GREAT for you.
Laugh. Laughter actually has the ability to increase antibody production in our bodies. These antibodies are what our bodies use to fight off germs and infection, so cuddle up with your favorite comedy and give yourself an unexpected boost.
Human touch. We are hard-wired to need the touch of others—getting a massage, hugging, holding hands, and having sex causes our bodies to release cortisol-lowering oxytocin, which is great for improving the immune system.
Human connection. Not only do we need touch, we need connection. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, social isolation weakens our immune system and compromises the body’s ability to fight infection. Even if you consider yourself more of a loner or social isolationist, it’s important to have at least one or two people you enjoy and trust in your world. They keep you healthy.
Natural supplements. There are many supplements that are still being researched, and it may be best to avoid those while the jury is still out. But many other supplements have been well-studied and are proven to help our bodies fight off illness or disease. Echinacea, for example, triggers the body’s white blood cells to attack unwanted invaders. Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, garlic and zinc all support our body’s immunity. Olive leaf extract is also great for us—it contains a somewhat bitter compound called oleuropein that supports the circulatory system and battles free radicals. And be sure to add a great probiotic to your daily regimen.
Greens. If you truly want to stay healthy this winter, it’s important to add a lot of greens to your diet. Kale, broccoli, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, and other salad greens ensure the cells in our gut are functioning properly. So get your greens on and build that immune system.
For those grieving a loss, these suggestions are even more important, as grief suppresses the body’s immune system. Start taking these simple and all-natural steps today, and help your body feel better. Remember that diet and exercise, making time for fun and creative outlets, and getting a good night’s sleep will always be our first line of defense. But adding a few of these immune-builders to our routines will help keep us healthy this winter.