6 Tips to Keep Healthy this Winter
Our immune system is the reason we stay healthy and feel our best. Everything from fighting colds to cancer relies on our immune system. Externally, we have our skin, mucous membranes and nasal hair to protect against foreign invaders. Internally, multifarious defenses come to our rescue, including phagocytes, natural killer cells (yes, that is the real name!), and B and T cells.
To stay healthy this winter, follow these six tips:
- Wash your hands. While this may be obvious, pay attention to how long you wash your hands. Aim for 20-30 seconds of good scrubbing.
- Get the flu vaccine. Get you and your family the flu shot! It’s not too late.
- Eat well. Eating more whole foods and less processed items can help prevent illness, manage symptoms from illnesses and cut down on days spent sick. The immune system functions most efficiently when adequate levels of micronutrients are present. Therefore, when micronutrients become deficient, immunity can become suppressed, leaving the body venerable to infections. Here are some ways to get focused!
- Load up on colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Devour fish for its anti-inflammatory properties
- Limit alcohol and sugar, which can lower the immune system response.
- Add foods with probiotics or live bacteria like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha.
- Ask your primary care provider about checking your vitamin D levels. Experiments show that adequate levels of vitamin D3 is essential for the activation of immune cells needed to seek out and destroy infectious, invading microbes. Without this activation, infections such as influenza and the common cold appear to be more severe and last longer.
- Stay active. Aim for a goal of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. This will relieve stress and anxiety (ultimately protecting your immune system); help you sleep soundly; and is beneficial for raising the body temperature temporarily, which may help to decrease activity of a virus or bacteria.
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep the recommended 7-9 hours per night to let your body rest and your immune system to do its job fighting anything inside the body.
- Manage stress. Try relaxation techniques and positive thinking. Be in tune with what your stressors are and how best to manage them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family or a professional to help you cope with stress. Your immune system will thank you.
The Living Well Alliance team at PacMed wishes you a healthy winter!
Learn more about the The Living Well Alliance.