It’s winter time, and with it comes cold air, shorter days, and a generally increased chance of getting sick. Fortunately, there are various natural treatments and supplements that can help you significantly boost your immune system’s strength this winter season.
Why Is Winter Risky for Sickness?
In the winter time, the risks of getting sick go up for a few reasons. Per the University of Washington’s medical department, the risk of contracting sickness in winter is increased due to dry air (especially indoors if you’re using a heater), and by clustering together indoors with family. The increase of travel also contributes to the spread of sickness.
There are various infections and conditions, separate from COVID-19, that typically can get passed around during winter, per hopkinsmedicine.org. The simplest is the common cold, which is usually a mild infection of the nose, throat, and ears. The seasonal flu, which evolves from year to year, is a little more severe: it usually includes an infection of the breathing passages and lungs. Among the most severe illnesses that can get passed around in winter are bronchitis, pneumonia, and whooping cough.
Considering the variety of illnesses that exist, and the need to prevent them, it’s important to ensure your immune system is functioning well. The immune system is affected by how you treat your body, as well as what goes into it. The right habits and the right supplements make for essential immune caretaking measures for winter.
Immune Health and Lifestyle Factors
The lifestyle factors that often contribute to your immune system functioning are not hard to guess; it basically comes down to sleep, diet, and exercise. The following lifestyle tips are per iherb.com.
- Sleep is essential for immune health year-round, and especially in winter. If you have trouble sleeping, or if you sacrifice hours of sleep for one reason or another, the likelihood of contracting an illness will go up. When chronically sleep-deprived, inflammation tends to increase throughout the body and the immune system’s T-cells are reduced. Get enough sleep – shoot for eight hours a night, as close as possible to the same time every night.
- Nutrient-rich foods are an easy and natural way to get just that: nutrients. Nutrients are essential to the functioning of your immune system. Plant-based foods are the best go-to for this. Some examples are olive oil, flax & chia seeds, as well as fruits and vegetables. Additionally, avoid processed carbohydrates and sugars, which contribute to immune-suppressing factors such as obesity and inflammation.
- Exercise has a myriad of benefits, including its tendency to bolster your immune system. Moderate exercise, such as walking or jogging for a few minutes a couple of times a week, or working out at the gym, can go a long way. This is because exercise helps immune cells to circulate faster, and it tends to reduce stress, which can also bolster the immune system.
Supplements for Immune Support
As stated earlier, what you put into your body can have a significant effect on the functioning of your immune system. While your diet should be the primary mode by which you consume the necessary vitamins and nutrients, the right supplements can make for excellent help.
- Garlic is merely a plant, but its medicinal properties are powerful. Long known for its immune-boosting potential, garlic has been shown to reduce the occurrence of the common cold by up to 30%, per iherb.com. This is because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Per verywellhealth.com, dietician Brittany Scanniello recommends keeping it on one’s regular supplement regime throughout winter because of its support for disease-fighting white blood cells.
- Vitamin C is particularly helpful for its ability to help treat infections once they have set in, but not necessarily in preventing them. Per msn.com, dietician Roseanne Schennell recommends taking up to 1000 mg a day if you are an adult struggling with a season infection. Vitamin C contributes to various cellular functions, and is especially important during an infection that can obstruct the absorption of vitamin C.
- Vitamin D is another vitamin that is critical in battling infections, specifically in preventing them, per verywellhealth.com. It serves many functions in your body, and bolstering the immune system is one of them. Considering its essential nature, and the tendency for one to spend more time indoors in winter (away from vitamin D-giving sunlight), a vitamin D supplement can be very handy.
- Probiotics are highly touted by dieticians and other scientists for their efficacy in bolstering gut health, which can have a significant effect on immune health, per msn.com. While some foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are rich in probiotics, they are not common. Hence why a probiotic supplement may be very helpful. The recommended dosage is around 10 billion units per day, which is easily found in a probiotic supplement.
- Turmeric comes from a root in the ginger family and contains various properties (including an antiviral property) which can help battle against infections, per Dr. Yeral Patel at msn.com. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, as proven by science showing that it lessens inflammatory markers, therefore allowing the immune system to do its job more effectively. It also helps to improve functioning of cells throughout the entire body. A turmeric supplement, combined with black pepper for effective absorption, can be of great immune help.