Winter is a magical time of year. Holidays, holiday parties, time spent with family and friends, watching Love Actually on repeat, traveling, shopping… all things that make it a very busy, joy-filled time of year. But all of that time spent celebrating and making memories can lead to one of the most unpleasant things of all: the inevitable cold. Whether it’s a slight case of the sniffles or the full-blown flu, being sick during the holidays is the worst, especially when it prevents you from participating in your favorite activities (see: the aforementioned holiday parties). To help you keep toasting to good cheer, we’ve gathered some of the best tips on how you can boost your immune system this season.
A healthy immune system functions best when it’s been fed a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time. So instead of ingesting a quick burst of Vitamin C when you feel a cold coming on, plan ahead and include immune-boosting foods foods packed with plenty of Vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, and iron in your daily diet to help your immune system perform at optimal levels.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health. You’ll find them listed on the labels of dairy products, drinks, cereals, energy bars, and other health foods. These helpful bacteria keep your gut healthy, which is essential to your immune system. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, you should look for a probiotic with 10-20 billion organisms like Culturelle’s Probiotic All Natural Dairy & Gluten Free Vegetable Capsules ($21) and take one every day.
When it comes to staying healthy, we have just one word for you: breathe. When your body is under stress, it can weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to everything from the sniffles to the stuck-in-bed-for-five-days flu. Make sure to take time to kick back, relax, and unwind in a way that you love. Or if you are looking for a new way to wind down we have some suggestions.
We all know to wash our hands to keep germs at bay—but make sure to just do it with regular soap and water, says Dr. Lipman. The recent popularity of antibacterial soap has created harsher products, which are loaded with toxins that can actually increase the risk of creating resistant bacteria. These soaps also over-dry and crack the skin, making the transmission of viruses that much easier. So, stock-up on non-drying soaps like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap ($4) in Lavender and keep it on hand throughout the season.
Regular exercise helps expel toxins from your body and keep immune-supporting nutrients in. Plus, Dr. David Williams explains that the heat you generate while exercising helps to kill pathogens, while at the same time energizing your cells and metabolism for improved health. So whether it’s your weekly sweat session at CorePower Yoga or a quick at-home workout, try to make exercise a priority!
We all know that sleep is essential to, well, anything, but it really applies to a healthy immune system as well. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus like a nasty cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick so it is absolutely essential to get enough rest, especially when you are experiencing a busier social life than normal. Do you have a hard time getting to sleep? Try our trick for falling asleep in less than one minute.