The cooler weather and decrease in sunshine are often precursors to a cold or the start of the symptoms of flu. The immune system works hard to keep us healthy and functioning optimally, but sometimes it can’t keep up!
This year, as winter slowly starts to descend, prepare ahead by strengthening your immune system and arming it with everything it needs to help you stay healthy and keep sickness away!
Sleep is the foundation of a healthy body. During sleep, the body repairs itself, including cleaning out old cells, tackling viruses or bacteria and replenishing the cells of the immune system so they can be on guard and ready to fight. Lack of sleep means this doesn’t get done, and eventually that catches up to you in the form of cold or flu. If you have trouble getting to sleep, why not try a sleepy time tea?
Practice Stress Management
Whether you meditate regularly, engage in yoga and deep breathing or simply get out and exercise, reducing your stress is a key step in helping keep your immune system healthy. The body doesn’t differentiate between different types of stress: physical stress from exercise, family stress or that from work, the sympathetic nervous system enacts the same pathway to fight it. If this is enacted too often however, the immune system starts to break down because it can’t keep up. Regularly engage in your most efficient stress reduction techniques to stay healthy. And better yet, try some tension taming tea to help you out.
The body has its own built-in detoxification system, that is manually pumped through our movement, exercise and breathing. Known as the lymphatic system, the body uses this system to get rid of toxins, clean out dead and unwanted cells, and help release viruses or invaders in the body. Having a healthy lymphatic system is key to having a healthy immune system. Tackle this by regular exercises, deep breathing exercises, drinking lots of water and avoiding long periods of sedentary behaviour.
Adaptogenic ingredients, such as ashwaganda, rhodiola and certain varieties of mushrooms, have adaptogenic properties. This means they are able to help the body adapt to stressors and be better able to deal with the stress that is presented. Illness is a stress on the body, and it is important to arm your immune system with the proper tools to stay healthy before illness strikes.
Leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potato, blueberries, beetroot and any other brightly coloured plants are your best friend when it comes to fighting disease and boosting immunity. All of these contain antioxidants, which help remove free radicals in the body. These free radicals can be at the root of illness – acute and chronic – so it is important to keep them in check. Aim to make the majority of your diet plant-based, with less coming from animals and minimizing processed foods and sugar.
Finally, don’t forget the importance of exercise! Not only can it be a valuable way to improve your lymphatic health, help you sleep better, and be a great way to reduce stress, but exercise also releases natural endorphins, which are beneficial to immunity. Furthermore, if you engage in your activity outside, you are exposed to environmental stimuli which can also strengthen your immune system by exposing it to additional stimulants which it has to develop antibodies against.
Above all else, listen to your body! It will tell you when it is tired, when it needs more water or if it is time to press pause and take a rest. When you do this, it will reward you in return keeping you healthy all season long!