Boosting Immunity During Colder Months

Memphis has finally gotten a little bit of winter weather this weekafter some extended fall-ish and up and down temps.  I’m really not a huge fan of winter, but I’m ready to get past to frost and on to spring.  I love a good statement coat, but I don’t like wearing them, so blanket scarves, hats, and gloves are usually my jam.  Most people say that the weather itself and the lack of covering causes people to “catch” colds and contract respiratory illnesses, but that can’t be farther from the truth.  Cold and flu illnesses are caused by viruses, and if your immune system is strong and functioning well, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t wear during colder months. Person to person contact is the main mode of transmission for most illnesses, but here’s how the environment plays a part:

a) Cold air is drier, which allows viruses to replicate faster and flourish.  And that’s also the reason why most colds and influenzas are more prevalent during the winter season.

b) Cold air drives people indoors more, where person to person & surface contact increases, making viruses/germs more likely to be spread.

c) Many work and home environments have poor air circulation during colder months, which also contribute to the spread of viruses/germs. There’s essentially a cocktail of dead cells, mucus droplets (from coughs & sneezes), and viruses in every room just chillin’ and waiting on the next victim. Great visual, huh?

So I said all of that to say, cover up because it’s cold (duh!), but boosting immunity with diet, exercise, and supplements is the key to remaining well. Here are a few things you can incorporate in your daily routine to keep from being sick.

Supplements | The main 3 supplements that help boost immunity are Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea. Taking these daily in the winter will have your immune system ready to fight off whatever comes your way. I take these EVERY DAY!! And sometimes twice on Sunday.  Elderberry is another great addition as well with it’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I’m looking for ways to use the syrup into my daily routine.  Maybe I’ll add it to a smoothie or tea.

Tea | Opt for tea over coffee. Teas are full of antioxidants, which have been proven to be effective in preventing disease. Add a little honey to sweeten without sugar as honey has cough suppressing properties.

Food | Many foods, including meat and processed foods, are considered mucus causing agents. When you feel the bug trying to hit you, tweak your diet. Opt for more plant-based options that help reduce mucus, like soups and veggies (the more color the better). Also, try to avoid dairy products along with added sugars (clears throat…as in sodas and juices) and starches as they can increase mucus production. Remember less fast/fake food. More real food. Always, and not just when you’re sick.

Work it out | With exercise comes sweat. With sweat comes the release of toxins. Having an active lifestyle (key word: lifestyle) helps boost immunity by promoting good circulation, which allows cells in the immune system to move freely and work more efficiently. It’s also why mommas and grannies all over made you sleep in full sweatsuits under a pile of blankets when you were little. It’s good to sweat it out!

Humidifiers are also a great idea, at home and at work, as they add moisture to the air and decrease virus survival.

 photos :: Kim Thomas

According to Q, By adding these few things into your daily routine, your immune system will be a lot stronger and you can fight off anything the comes your way. I do promote getting the flu vaccine, but if you choose not to, these tips will hopefully keep your defenses up. Of course, this doesn’t make anyone invincible, but incorporating them should help lessen the severity.

Cheers to healthy immunity systems and finally getting a winter so we can get on to spring/summer!