On a daily basis, we are exposed to unhealthy microbes that could potentially cause infectious disease. This is especially true from December through March, which is considered peak cold and flu season. Luckily, we have a complex network of pathways, cells and organs to defend against these harmful invaders – our immune system! 

This defense network attacks foreign invader germs and develops antibodies to protect you from future exposure. Even though our immune system functions to keep us healthy year round, it has to work overtime during the winter months when germs and viruses are at their peak. Here are four key tips to make sure your immune system is in top shape this winter.

 

Exercise 

When it’s cold outside you might be tempted to spend all of your free time curled up under a blanket binging on the latest Netflix show. While that’s perfectly fine in moderation, it’s also important to get enough physical activity in the winter months. Not only does physical exercise help boost your mood and combat the seasonal depression many of us experience, but it’s also anti-inflammatory and immune boosting as well! 

Daily physical activity has been shown to increase circulation and production of neutrophils and cytotoxic T-cells, which are immune cells that help fight against infection. In addition, heavy breathing during exercise can help to expel bacteria out of the lungs, lowering the chance of infection. Keep in mind it’s important that you don’t overdo it when it comes to physical exercise – as too much exertion depletes energy stores and can cause inflammation. The best practice is to mix calming exercises in with your high intensity workouts at a 60/40 or 70/30 ratio. 

Restorative exercise such as yoga, tai chi or even just walking will keep your immune defenses strong and allow your body the ability to repair itself. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.

 

Get Plenty of Rest 

It’s absolutely vital to get proper sleep, especially during cold and flu season. This is because during sleep the body regenerates and repairs any damage from the day. In addition, sleep stimulates immune system release of cytokines, which are proteins that control immune cells and signal the immune system to function properly. Your body needs more cytokines during times of inflammation and physiological stress to fight off infections. However, during times of sleep deprivation the body’s ability to produce these protective immune cells actually decreases.This is why getting the recommended seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night is so critical. Some helpful tips to obtain proper sleep include:regular exercise, limiting blue light exposure at least one hour before bed, avoiding caffeine late in the day and daily meditation

 

Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet 

You may notice that when temperatures are low you tend to crave foods that are higher in sugar and carbohydrates. Hello comfort food! Though it may feel good to eat this type of diet during the winter, you won’t be doing your immune system any favors. 

A lot of the foods that we consider “comfort foods” are actually pro-inflammatory which overwhelm your immune system causing infections and illness. You can keep your immune system in top-shape by following an anti-inflammatory diet. Low glycemic foods with high nutrient content fight disease and inflammation due to their immune-boosting properties. Instead of eating highly processed foods high in sugar and fat, try eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins and nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates. Think of these nourishments as comfort food for your immune system.

 

Supplement Your Nutrition 

Sometimes it’s difficult to get all the essential nutrients you need from your diet. This can be for a number of reasons including soil depletion, and poor nutrient absorption. You can ensure that your body is properly nourished with daily oral supplementation as well as intravenous therapy.

Unfortunately, we only absorb 10-15% of vitamins through our digestive system, which is why IV therapy is so important for this time of year. IV Therapy delivers nutrients through the vein, which ensures 100% absorption rate, to keep your immune system in top shape!  This is the only way our bodies can properly obtain the high vitamin doses needed to boost and protect our body during cold and flu season. Not to mention, many therapeutic doses of  powerful antioxidants such as Vitamin C, may cause stomach distress when supplemented orally vs intravenously. 

In the wintertime, when cold and flu season is at its peak, certain micronutrients have been identified for their immune boosting abilities. Look for quality oral supplements and intravenous therapies that include these essentials for your body:

  • Vitamin D – helps to balance and strengthen the immune system. People who are susceptible to common cold and influenza infections are associated with low vitamin D levels. T-Cells and other immune cells are boosted by proper levels of Vitamin D in the body; which helps to decrease inflammation and fight off infection. 
  • Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant essential for growth and repair of tissue.Strengthens body’s natural defense.
  • Zinc – improves immune response, can shorten the length of a cold, increases lymphocyte production, controls inflammation 
  • Selenium – lowers inflammation by reducing oxidative stress.Higher levels of selenium are associated with increased immune response.
  • B-Vitamins – keep the immune system functioning by creating red blood cells which fight and capture germs and transport oxygen throughout the body.

 

Keep these tips in mind as we head into the cold and flu season. Exercise, sleep and adequate nutrition are the key to your body’s defense. OWM IV Infusion can help your body to receive the correct vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong. For more information about our IV Infusion and other immune boosting treatments contact OWM Integrative Wellness to optimize your health and wellness during cold and flu season and year round!