Getting the common cold and flu can be more easily avoided than you think. Catching one of these viruses is actually less about being out in the cold than it is about deficiencies that arise during the winter season. And on top of that, I read that “researchers have found the seasons affect gene activity – almost a quarter of our genes differ according to the time of year, with some more active in winter and others more active in summer; this seasonality also affects our immune cells – and therefore our immune system function, and the composition of our blood and adipose tissue (fat).” So it’s not so much about going out in the rain without a jacket on, but protecting yourself from germs with our immune system functioning at a lesser capacity.
Here are a few simple ways to reduce your chances of getting sick this season (I KNOW ITS ALREADY FEBRUARY BUT STILL)
- Get VITAMIN D: In the summer, most of us are getting all of our vitamin D from the suns rays. In the winter, (especially in cooler climate areas), we tend to get muchhhh less sun and therefore much less vitamin D. Vitamin D helps us absorb certain minerals, BUT is also good for facilitating normal immune system functioning. Vitamin D3 in particular can help reduce the risk of catching the flu, so if you’re not getting much sun, make sure to properly supplement with the vitamin.
- Turmeric: It’s most important component being curcumin, often known for is amazing anti-inflammatory properties, has also shown to have an immunity-boosting effect. A study done in 2007, curcumin was found to “modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Curcumin can also downregulate the expression of various proinflammatory cytokines, which are cell signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma.”
- Eat real foods: This is a given, but many people still consume a primary processed-food diet, with little to no nutrient benefits. Foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals are going to have massive impact on your body, so it’s best to get as much of them as you can. Foods high in vitamin C, vitamin D, Vitamin E, zinc, and really ALL of the nutrients are going to set you up for success. Side note: it’s not the same if you supplement these in over-the-counter vitamin form. The nutrients in whole foods (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, soluble & insoluble fiber, and prebiotic fiber), are much more bioavailable, and work together harmoniously to have the best effects for your body.
- Probiotics: Strengthening your gut is SO key to having a strong immune system. About 80% of your immune system is IN your gut. You have about 100 trillion bacteria in your body right now, and about 500-1000 species of bacteria inside of you. Theres a lot more going on inside your gut that you realize, and without proper care, you may get an undesirable ratio of good:bad bacteria (which should be about 85%:15%). The food you consume has a direct impact on your ability to fight of foreign invaders…like infections, bacteria, parasites, and viruses. An interesting fact that I found while researching the topic is that “our bodies are more bacteria than human”– our bodies have ten times more microbes than human cells.Unfortunately, based on the way our culture currently is, it is extremely common for many people (including those of us who eat healthy) to have imbalanced gut bacteria (dybiosis). The imbalance is due to 7 common toxins that have negative effects on the microbiome: perscription antiobiotics, sugar, tap water, GMO foods, grains, emotional stress, and chemicals/medications: these are substances that actually kill the probiotics you naturally have in your gut. An imbalance of bacteria leads not only to digestive disorders, but also skin issues, candida, autoimmune disorders, and frequent colds and flus (among many others).
- Stop stressing yourself out: Stress weakens your immune system, making it hard to fight off even a basic cold. The stress response releases corticosteroid, which actually surpresses your immune system, making you more susceptible to disease. Depression can have similar effects on the immune system, so really, get your mental health (in regards to stress/anxiety and depression) are going to have massive impacts on your physical health. Things like exercise, yoga, being outdoors, meditation, reading, massage, acupuncture, being around people you enjoy, etc. are all ways to reduce stress & depression, and are the easiest ways to fight them!
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