What are you looking forward to this winter? Spending time with your family and friends over the holidays? Sweater weather? Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating? Though the weather is colder and there are fewer daylight hours, there is still a lot to enjoy during winter—except the return of cold and flu season.
Why do colds and germs spread faster during the winter? It’s a combination of several factors.
- Less daylight – Daylight is essential for immune system support as it helps our skin naturally produce vitamin D when we’re exposed to the sun.
- More time indoors – Since we spend more time indoors during the winter, we’re in close contact with others. This leaves us exposed to the germs and viruses that cause colds and illness.
- Stronger virus – The common cold virus strengthens its lipid coating to protect itself against winter’s brutal temperatures. This makes the virus stronger and more aggressive.
- Poor Diet – Studies have shown that sugary foods and drinks can negatively impact the immune system. Overindulging in snacks and desserts during the holiday season not only contributes to unwanted weight gain, it also prevents your body from effectively fighting off germs and viruses.
There are lots of simple ways you can protect yourself from germs and viruses during the winter. First, it’s best to dress in layers to stay warm when you’re outside. You can always shed a layer to be more comfortable. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as these areas are vulnerable to germs and viruses. Most importantly, you need to build up your immune system.
Below we’ll share with you two of the key steps to build a strong immune system to protect yourself and enhance your natural immunity.
Maintaining Healthy Diet
Many of us are tempted with lots of tasty treats, rich dishes and calorie-packed beverages during the holiday season. While these snacks may be satisfying to your sweet tooth, they’re also damaging to your natural immunity.
While it’s totally fine to treat yourself and enjoy the occasional holiday cookie or snack, it’s best to do so in moderation. Or, even better, substitute those snacks with more healthy alternatives. Instead of pumpkin pie, enjoy pumpkin hummus instead. Use Pita chips topped with guacamole to create tree-shaped treats to take the place of sugar cookies.
Remember, your healthy diet shouldn’t just be restricted to your holiday snacking. To really support a strong immune system throughout the winter, you should eat meals that include superfoods which are rich with vitamins and nutrients.
- Sweet potatoes not only have a long shelf life, they’re packed with vitamin A and can be baked, roasted and steamed. Use them as a side or a key component of your dish.
- Mushrooms offer multiple immunity-supporting benefits: vitamin D, potassium (a powerful nutrient and electrolyte) vitamin B6 (which helps produce red blood cells and transport oxygen throughout the body) and zinc (which is crucial for optimal immune function)
- You can’t go wrong with citrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes) for a boost of that all-important cold fighter: vitamin C
If you’re not a fan of citrus, you can enjoy other vitamin C-rich foods such as kiwi, broccoli, spinach, berries, pineapple, bell peppers, and tomatoes
- Bone broth is also a good source of nutrients as well as being a very comforting food during the long winter months
Boost Immunity with Exercise
Maintaining a regular exercise routine, such as Super Slow Strength Training, is essential for boosting your immune system in many different ways. Primarily, exercising helps the body produce more white blood cells. The immune system is composed of white blood cells found in the bone marrow. These cells, especially a variety known as macrophage, are responsible for protecting the body from health threats such as viruses, germs, and bacteria.
Chronic stress and lack of sleep also contribute to lowering the body’s immune defenses. When you’re chronically stressed and sleepless, the number of immune-supporting cells that are circulating throughout your body are significantly reduced. This lowers your immune system and makes it harder to fight off viruses and bacteria.
However, regular exercise helps reduce stress by ramping up production of endorphins. These neurotransmitters help the brain experience a calming effect which helps relieve stress. These endorphins also give you more energy which lets you exercise more often. And exercising daily helps improve sleep quality. That in turn gives you more energy to exercise. This creates a healthy continuum that boosts natural immunity.
By eating healthier and exercising regularly, you’ll lay the foundation for a strong natural immunity during the winter months – and all year long. Loyalty Fitness trainers and nutrition coaches can help you develop a customized diet and personalized 30-minute strength training session that work together to help boost your immunity. And if you don’t like to travel during inclement winter weather, you can participate in virtual one-on-one training sessions from the comfort of your own home.
Contact us today to book an immune-supporting session at our Greenwich, CT or Syosset, NY locations!