5 ways to support your immune system this winter
Maintain a healthy blood sugar. Every day, we have three opportunities to improve our immune system and overall health: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Blood sugar is directly related to what you eat. Minimizing added sugars and processed foods are key. Chronically elevated blood sugar from these foods will create inflammation in the body and store the excess sugar in our bodies as fat. Emphasize whole and fresh foods — organic, if you can. When you eat the rainbow of fruits and low-starch vegetables daily with quality protein and healthy fats, you are setting your immune system up for success. When you maintain healthy blood sugar levels, you also support the optimal functioning of the immune system.
Fortify with supplements. While food is the foundation, supplements are supplemental. During the winter months, supplementing with vitamin D is essential for supporting a healthy immune and inflammatory response in the body. Especially with less sun and more layers in the winter, our body requires additional vitamin D. Vitamin C will help your immune cells respond more quickly. My favorite, elderberry, supports the immune system functioning in the respiratory tract and helps maintain our cells’ integrity. Finally, zinc, selenium and licorice root are a few other supplements to promote robust immunity in the body.
Tend the garden of your mind. As you feed your body well, feed your mind well with positive thoughts. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and gratitude journaling are all great tools to help cultivate the garden of your mind. YOU have the power to build the health you want to experience.
Make sleep a priority. The CDC reports that sleep loss negatively affects optimal immune functioning. Not getting enough sleep? Set a bedtime. Avoid screens before bed. Keep the phone out of the bedroom. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in the latter part of the day. Develop a relaxing ritual before bed, such as reading, journaling or taking a warm bath. Avoid high carbohydrate meals and snacks before bed.
Move frequently. Exercise can sound daunting. How about moving frequently? Park your car in a space far away from the grocery store door. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Go for a 10-minute walk while you wait for your casserole to cook. Do 10 push-ups before you get in the shower. Go for a walk or hike with a loved one.
Behaviors change when we start small. Pick one of these areas and create one specific and measurable goal. For example, journal one thing you are grateful for once per week. After a couple of weeks, maybe you begin to journal twice per week. Before you know it, you’ll be doing it every day, and you will feel your mindset shift.