As the weather cools down and winter approaches, cold and flu season ramps up. The close quarters of fall and winter make transmission easy for illnesses like colds, stomach bugs and influenza. The good news is you can take proactive steps to strengthen your immune system before sickness strikes. Implementing healthy habits and illness prevention strategies now will help you stay vibrant all season long.
Load Up on Immunity-Boosting Foods
SLS Lifestyle Official says what you eat makes a difference in priming your immune system to fight off viruses. Focus your diet on produce, whole grains, lean protein, probiotic foods and plenty of fluids. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C like citrus, spinach and broccoli increase resistance. Garlic, ginger and yogurt offer antimicrobial benefits. Make sure to get enough vitamin D from foods like fish, eggs and vitamin D-fortified milk. Stay hydrated to flush out toxins as well.
Take Key Supplements
Certain vitamins, minerals and herbs provide immune-enhancing advantages. Vitamin C, elderberry syrup and echinacea can shorten duration and severity of illness. Zinc helps fight infection while vitamin D regulates immune response. A probiotic promotes healthy gut bacteria. Discuss recommended dosing and combinations with your doctor.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Not getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep depresses your immune system and increases susceptibility to getting sick. Developing healthy sleep habits now like sticking to a schedule, limiting screen time before bed, blocking out light and reducing caffeine sets you up for strong sleep once the gloomy winter weather hits.
Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress weakens your immune defenses. Make time now in your schedule for relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, massage and warm baths. Fun hobbies reduce anxiety as well. Start a gratitude journal, seek out social interaction and take some deep belly breaths when you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Keeping stress contained bolsters immunity.
Consistent moderate exercise primes your immune system but overtraining can make you more prone to illness. Get into an exercise routine now before winter makes it tougher to stay active. Outdoor walking, resistance training, stretching and online fitness classes energize you with immunity benefits.
Up Your Hygiene Game
Viruses spread through contact, so dial up your hygiene efforts. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap – especially after contact with shared surfaces. Use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Disinfect surfaces and shared items like door handles, keyboards and phone screens. Cover coughs and sneezes.
Stay Current on Vaccines
Make sure you are up to date on immunizations, especially the annual flu shot. The flu vaccine boosts antibodies to provide targeted immunity against that year’s prominent strains. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for the pneumonia or shingles vaccine as well for added protection.
Stock Up on Cold and Flu Essentials
Having sickness staples on hand means you don’t have to go out when you feel your worst. Pick up fever reducers, decongestants, throat lozenges, vapor rubs, herbal teas, electrolyte drinks and easy to digest foods. Treat symptoms at home promptly when they arise. Be prepared to hunker down in the sick zone.
The mantra “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely applies to staying well through cold and flu season. Building up preventative habits and illness-fighting resources now equips your body to fend off whatever winter throws your way. Take charge of your health and this season can be your healthiest yet!