For some of my friends around the world, fall and winter is approaching. These seasons are notorious for bringing yearly colds and flus. Which is why I wanted share a few ways to boost the immune system naturally so you avoid sickness, or shorten it.
Even when we’re diligent about eating healthy foods, exercising, and trying to stay away from germs, there may be times when a virus gets into our body and attempts to do some damage.
A strong immune system can usually fight off foreign invaders quickly, so that there’s no illness at all (or if there is it doesn’t last long).
But, if an immune system is run down by poor diet, stress, or lack of sleep, the chance of getting sick is high.
Sometimes, we come in contact with super bugs that are so powerful and intense, even a healthy lifestyle needs extra help to combat them.
This is when you’ll want to be extra careful to get proper nourishment into the body and into the mind.
Let’s take a look at the immune system works, why it tends to be more challenged during fall and winter, and what you can do to boost the immune system naturally.
How The Immune System Works
Our immune system is a complicated and amazing defense network in our body.
It protects us from harmful viruses that float around in the air or cover things we might touch. Our immune system is comprised of:
First Line of Defense
Our skin, nose, lungs, and intestinal tract are external and internal facets of our first line of defense against germs.
These team players work toward the goal of keeping us well by trying to block pathogens that seek to enter our body.
They keep them from penetrating deep inside to where they might do great damage.
Other barriers that are key to the overall function of our immune system, like our stomach acid and our tears, offer the same sort of protection from potential invaders.
Second Line of Defense
The immune system’s second line of defense is a collection of cells in our body, our white blood cells, which work together to recognize viruses that have made it past our first line of defense.
These special cells acquire immunity to the dangerous pathogens after an initial encounter and they’re then able to effectively destroy the buggers when encountering them again.
Future meetings with the same pathogen affect the body only slightly, if at all.
Why is the Immune System Challenged During Fall and Winter?
During fall and winter, changes in our environment, and therefore changes in how we live our lives, make it easier for harmful viruses to compromise our health.
Indoor and Outdoor Air Temperature
Winter air is often dry, which can make our nose and lung tissue dry and cracked. These cracks, even if very small, give pathogens the perfect place to enter our bodies.
Turning on the heater to stay warm during winter makes things even easier for germs and worse for us.
Heating units typically turn dry air even drier. So, what can you to do make fall and winter kinder to your body?
When possible, keep indoor air moist and damp with a humidifier, which will moisturize the nose and lungs and allow them to work optimally.
Indoor Air Quality
When air outside becomes chilly, many people want to stay indoors.
But, when you remained holed up inside for most of the day, you’re sitting there amongst germs that are not allowed to escape.
Imagine if one person in your family was sick or had come in contact with virus.
Now think about that sickness becoming trapped inside of your house where several others are living and trying to stay well.
If you can keep your doors and windows open during fall and winter, it’s best.
I know sometimes it can be too cold, so consider purchasing and using a good air filter if you have to be closed up.
Even better, make sure you take a walk outdoors for at least 15 minutes a day, even when it’s nippy. Breathing in the fresh, clean air will do you good.
It’s sometimes hard to keep from being stressed.
Even when we think we’re managing well enough and keeping things together, the holidays, busy schedules, or just plain life can throw something at us that tilts the scales toward being stressed out if we’re not mindful.
Stress on some level is a part of many people’s lives.
But chronic stress is not good for the body and it causes great harm to the immune system.
How we deal with surprises that come our way, and heavy demands on us, can be the difference in catching a cold or flu and avoiding one.
A tip? Try to let things you have no control over slip away while you focus on what creates wellbeing in your life.
If something happens that seems bad or stresses you out at first, ask yourself if you can calm the situation. If so, do it. If not, turn toward what you can do to bring peace to body and mind.
Do you know that prolonged stress lowers the body’s white blood cell count?
Our white blood cells are some of the most important defenses we have in fighting off pathogens.
Keep stress at bay by meditating, doing yoga, practicing soothing breathing techniques, and spending time doing things that bring you joy.
How Can You Boost Your Immune System Naturally?
Eat a Healthy Diet
Diets that are high in saturated fats are linked to weak immune systems.
Sugar is also a culprit in lowering the immune system’s ability to keep us safe from would-be destroyers.
Saturated fat and sugar make our white blood cells less able to ward off infection.
What type of diet is best for a strong and healthy immune system? A plant-based diet.
Plant foods like fruits, nuts, veggies, grains, and seeds are loaded with immune system-boosting compounds like antioxidants, vitamin C, and phytonutrients that support healthy skin, blood, and cells. And, they’re typically low in bad fats.
Engage in Enjoyable Exercise
Studies show that participating in 20 minutes of gentle, enjoyable exercise each day boosts the immune system and lowers the risk of illness.
The key to exercising is finding something that brings you pleasure while you’re moving.
Otherwise you set yourself up for stressful experiences that go against the wellbeing you’re trying to achieve.
Doing yoga is a great way to exercise and stay healthy.
Yoga detoxifies and oxygenates the blood, balances hormones to keep the immune system strong, reduces fatigue and stress that inhibits the optimal function of white blood cells, and triggers the expulsion of viruses and bacteria from the body through the lymph system
Get Enough Sleep
Our bodies are meant to function efficiently during the day, and then recharge at night.
Experts recommend getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night so that the body can properly rest itself and become reenergized for a new day.
Take some time to make peaceful slumber a priority by preparing your bedroom with soft, organic sheets, low energy-efficient lighting, and soothing meditation CD’s.
To promote sleep, sip on organic herbal teas before bed or cut out electronic use and settle down with a good book.
There are so many exciting things to do during fall and winter that you won’t want to miss out on because you’re sick.
Use this guide to boosting the immune system naturally to stay healthy through these fun seasons using gentle and effective approaches.