With holiday travel, freezing temperatures and germs aplenty, the long winter can wreak havoc on your health. No one wants to be trapped on the couch feeling crummy when you should be enjoying the festivities, cozying up to a warm fire or outside making snow angels. Luckily, there are plenty of simple ways to promote immune health during the winter months. My top 5 not only support your immune system from the inside out, but they might even make you feel more energized throughout the season.
Catch Plenty of Zs
The cold, dark winter may make you want to sleep more, but the hectic nature of everyday life doesn’t always allow for ample shut-eye. That can be a problem for your immune system, since lack of sleep has been associated with a higher risk of developing respiratory infections. Also, research suggests that less sleep may mean that your body has fewer white blood cells to fight off infection. Maximize your body’s germ-fighting ability by rethinking your to-do list—saying no to what you really don’t need or want to do–so you are sure to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Get Your Probiotics
A whopping 70% of the immune system is located in the intestinal tract–that’s why a healthy gut is key to maintaining immune and overall health. To help keep your complex digestive system thriving, it’s a good idea to consume good bacteria on a regular basis. To do that I suggest including probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, miso, some brands of sauerkraut and pickles as often as possible. But because the amounts of active cultures in those foods can vary widely, I also recommend taking a probiotic supplement daily. Renew Life Ultimate Flora™ Extra Care Probiotic 30 Billion has 3X more good bacteria and more strains† to support digestive balance and immune health.*
Eat Power Produce
One of the tastiest ways to optimize up your body’s germ-fighting abilities is to eat plenty of colorful produce. Citrus fruits, kale, red bell peppers, broccoli and kiwi, for example, are all available throughout the winter and are some of the best sources of vitamin C and antioxidants in the produce aisle. Plus, these produce picks are also rich in fiber which can be prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut and helping them thrive–a benefit that makes that crudité, salad or vegetable soup a double-whammy for immune health!
It probably doesn’t come as a shock that exercise can boost your immune system. Heck—it seems like exercise is good for everything! Research suggests that people who are more active are less likely to develop an upper respiratory tract infection, according to the National Institute of Health, because physical activity may flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This winter make sure you get at least 150 minutes of activity each week. If sweating it out at the gym isn’t your thing, crank up the tunes and dance, bundle up and take a brisk walk outside, go to a yoga class or try a free online workout in your living room!
Probably the single most important, and arguably the easiest, thing you can do to combat germs is wash your hands properly and frequently–research has shown that alone can prevent 20% of respiratory infections. The CDC says proper handwashing is simple—just wet, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry with a clean towel. They suggest washing hands before preparing and eating food, after using the restroom, if you’re around someone who is sick, after touching an animal or after handling garbage. It might sound like common sense, but it’s a good reminder, and it can go a long way toward feeling good this winter.
†Compared to the leading brand’s 10B CFU probiotic