As our bodies adjust to seasonal change, it is of utmost importance to maintain a strong immune system. As we head into the coldest winter months, supporting our immunity is even more crucial than ever considering the ongoing pandemic.
Here are four tips to end this year and begin a new one in the healthiest state possible.
Eat a nutritious diet
It’s not a crime to indulge in a few extra holiday cookies or turn to heavy comfort foods when the weather outside gets frightful, however, its especially important to ensure that you balance out the festive treats with a diverse diet that includes a wide variety of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Integrative family physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., recommends trying to “get lots of vitamin-C-rich foods, like bell peppers, oranges, carrots.” She also suggests “pumpkin seeds and oysters,” which “are rich in zinc and great to support your immune system.”
Take a targeted immune-support supplement
Sometimes it can be challenging to get all the recommended nutrients from your diet alone, so Gandhi also recommends throwing in a vitamin C or zinc supplement to your routine.
On top of that, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, advises that you investigate two specific plant bioactives: quercetin phytosome and yeast-derived beta-glucans. Quercetin supplementation has been shown to strengthen immune resilience and beta-glucans act as antioxidants and immunomodulators that prepare the immune system for whatever challenges it may face.
Move your body (outside if possible)
Stress management and the state of your immune system are closely linked, so Gandhi says that you should “make sure you have carved out time weekly for self-care and to do things that nourish your soul!”
A great stress management strategy is to incorporate regular movement and exercise in your daily schedule, as exercise is critical for supporting mental health. Mitigating stress also supports gut health and promotes better sleep, which both play big roles in immune health. Maximize the benefits of exercise by doing it outside if the weather allows.
Get good-quality sleep
Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is a healthy habit that helps manage cortisol production (the stress hormone), and it also allows the immune system to rest and recover.