With cold, winter months upon us, start thinking about proactive steps you can take to boost your immunity to help stay healthy all winter. A good place to start is to remind yourself and family members to wash their hands more often with soap and water and try to keep from touching their nose and eyes to help minimize the spread of illnesses like colds and flu. Flu viruses can live up to 8 hours on surfaces, so wash hands often with soap for 15 to 30 seconds to effectively kill germs. Of course, also try to avoid being around people with cold or flu symptoms and stay mindful of your surroundings. At home, at work, and when traveling it’s a good idea to clean and disinfect your personal spaces that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
Avoiding germs is important, but a healthy, strong immune system is your best defense against illness. So what are some of the best ways to boost your immune system? Reduce stress, get adequate rest and regular exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Stress can weaken immunity, but taking mindful steps like daily meditation, deep breathing, yoga and positive affirmations can all help you manage stress. I use personal affirmations such as, “I am a healthy person with a strong, powerful immune system”.
Getting rest and adequate sleep may be one of the best ways to keep you and your immune system healthy. It’s recommended to go to sleep at the same time every night, wake up at the same time and get seven to eight hours of sleep each day.
Regular exercise enhances immune function. Moderate exercise boosts blood flow and oxygen transfer so that immune cells circulate throughout the body, increasing your natural bacteria and virus-killing cells. Daily, regular exercise can improve long-term immune response.
A balanced diet with plenty of dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants, enzymes, polyphenols, and vitamins are all beneficial in supporting the immune system. Consider making Greek yogurt or Kefir a regular part of your balanced diet as they provide healthy sources of good bacteria that improve the function of your intestinal tract. Greek Yogurt and Kefir are also good sources of Vitamin D which is critical for immune cell function. Always drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Include green tea for powerful antioxidant nutrients that can help stimulate the immune system.
When you take proactive steps and maintain good health habits by reducing stress, getting adequate rest, daily exercise, and eating a nutritious, balanced diet, you can give your immune system the boost it needs to help you stay healthy this winter.
Joyce Daoust is a Certified Nutritionist, Balance Bar® spokesperson and national best-selling co-author of THE FORMULA, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program.