A lot of people coincide colder weather with increased chances of sickness. Although there is a spike in sickness during wintertime, it’s not necessarily due to the temperature outside. A lot of these symptoms span from the fact that we are generally inside more often, and thus in closer proximity to other people and germs. Now we can’t hide from everyone and hibernate, but we can take some actionable steps both inside and outside of our bodies to help combat the winter blues. We’ve put together this guide of natural ways to boost your immune system to help you with just that.
Inside Out: Nutrition And Dietary Adjustments To Help Us Combat Increased Chances Of Sickness
Our immune health starts with what we fuel our bodies with, and what we choose not to ingest. Here are some tips for you to ‘chew’ on.
Improve your gut health:
About 80% of your immune system stems from your digestive tract due to the fact that it is the gateway between what we eat and what ultimately gets absorbed into our bloodstream. Our gut microflora is a complex system, and as such, there is no cure-all for bad gut health. It requires a balanced diet of healthy foods and nutrients from diverse sources. Make sure to include some type of acetic acid in your health arsenal, as it helps prevent bad microbiota from entering our GI tracts.
Increase consumption of foods rich in antioxidants:
As the name suggests, antioxidants help combat oxidative stress of the cells, which if left unbalanced can lead to immune-suppressive diseases. Foods high in antioxidants include berries, nuts, tea (black and green), and roots such as turmeric. Turmeric helps the body fight off fungus, viruses, and bad bacteria.
Increase antibacterial foods in your diet:
The problem with prescribed antibiotics is that they kill both good and bad bacteria, which can sometimes be counterintuitive in the long run. Foods with great antibacterial properties include garlic, ginger, and Manuka honey. If you haven’t heard of Manuka honey before, it comes from bees in New Zealand. This honey contains peroxide as well as methylglyoxal (both very strong antibacterial components), which is not found in other honeys.
To wrap it up:
I know, I know.. That’s a lot of different foods to include in our diets. However, you’ll probably find a lot of these foods are in your everyday diet already. If not, aim for foods and liquids that hit multiple points at once.
Something like our Apple Cider Vinegar. It comes packed with probiotic benefits including acetic acid and The Mother. The additions of turmeric and Manuka honey give it added antioxidant and antibacterial properties. ACV is versatile in its uses as well, such as a salad dressing, warm drink, and many other recipes. Making a habit out of using something like this can improve our immune systems to fight against winter germs. Which brings us to our next point.
Create Healthy External Habits To Combat Winter Sickness
Obviously, we have less control over the outside world as we do with our nutrition. This makes it even more important to create healthy daily habits to improve our defences against the seasons ‘buggy’ visitors (maximum level of two puns per article has now been reached).
Get on a regular sleeping schedule:
Our bodies love routine, considering we run on a cyclical clock. Falling asleep and waking up at the same time allows our bodies to understand when to start up the bodily processes and when it’s time to rest. Loads of internal maintenance occur when we are asleep, which is why when we are sick, we generally sleep more to allow our bodies to fight off the bacteria/virus. On top of consistent timing, make sure to get adequate rest (approximately 8 hours per night).
Learn to take time for stress management:
Stress is well known for suppressing the immune system, so it is imperative we carve out some time each day to lower our stress levels. Some common practices include daily meditation, deep breathing exercises, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Wash your freaking hands!:
There is this incredible invention called ‘soap,’ and you should be using it to wash your hands multiple times a day. Make a daily habit of cleaning your hands with warm water and soap to stop the spread of germs. It’s especially important after touching shared objects, such as door handles, other people’s hands, keyboards, etc. Make sure to always wash your hands before touching your face, especially your eyes.
Self Care Is Both Inside And Outside Of Our Bodies
Look, winter in Australia isn’t that bad. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable as long as we aren’t cooped inside battling a sickness. Take the necessary steps both with your diet and daily practices to boost your immune system so you can go enjoy that winter sun!