3 SIMPLE Tips To Avoid Getting Sick This Winter
We’ve reached that frigid time of year filled with stomach bugs, sore throats, runny noses and general ickiness.
While sometimes it’s inevitable that those germs latch onto us and unleash their wrath, there are a few things we can do to make sure our immune systems are as resilient as they can be to put up their best battle against those nasty bacteria bugs.
We do have more power than we think over preventing sickness. Taking control of your lifestyle can prevent you from getting sick AND help you recover much quicker if you do get sick.
Things like running on a sleep deficit, living a sedentary lifestyle, and consuming a lot of nutrient-lacking foods can all contribute to weakening your immune system.
Supplement Year-Round With Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important number of roles in our bodies beyond those relating to the homeostasis of calcium and bones. One of those roles is its influence on the immune system. An estimated 40%-50% adults and children in the U.S. are deficient. Those of us living in the Northern U.S. are at even more of a disadvantage and the majority of us do have a deficiency.
We don’t need food to attain vitamin D (although some foods contain vitamin D, it’s nearly impossible to get a sufficient amount from them daily), natural sunlight allows our body to create it, but during the winter months when we experience shorter, darker days, we are not exposed to enough sunlight.
Basically, it’s up to us to make sure our vitamin D levels are optimal and to supplement if they are not.
I recommend supplementing with at least 2,000 IU daily, but it’s imperative that you have your blood levels checked and speak to your doctor to determine a deficiency and how much you need.
Since increasing my Vitamin D intake to a more optimal level, I’ve only been all-out sick with a cold once and have had incredible luck fighting off and preventing others – despite several close encounters with clients, colleagues and friends who were sick. Pretty powerful stuff!
Read more about Vitamin D here.
Reduce Intake of Sugary/Refined Carbs
Many of the dietary choices in today’s modern society appear to have harmful impacts on the immune system. Foods with added sugars and high glycemic loads may reduce white blood cell function, encouraging inflammation and overall damaging the immune system.
70% of our immune system is found in our GI tract. Our GI tract is the home of our good gut bacteria – the good guys who fight off a whole lot of the icky stuff and keep us healthy. If we want to keep these bacteria working in our favor, we need to feed them in a way that supports them. These good gut bacteria thrive on fiber-rich, whole foods, not processed foods, sugars and fats.
I get it, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and other holidays, this time of year can make it pretty tough to avoid these foods (candy, soda, juices, cookies, pies, etc) altogether. If you want your good gut bacteria to be able to deliver a fatal front kick to any germy invaders, it’s best to avoid “grazing” on these foods over the course of the holiday months and instead pick a few days, spread out, where you choose to mindfully indulge on them – maybe Thanksgiving day, Halloween night and New Year’s Eve. The days in between, eat plenty of lean meats, veggies, healthy fats and unrefined carbs (oats, brown rice, starchy vegetables, etc).
If you feel your gut health still needs a little boost, do try a probiotic. I’m a huge fan of this one by Jarrow Formulas.
Reducing your overall stress level is hands down one of the most beneficial things you can do for your overall health (and waistline). Whether stress is in the form of constant worry, eating foods that don’t agree with your body, a difficult boss or constant go-go-go without much downtime, the more you stress the more likely you are to get sick.
On-going, cumulative stress makes us so vulnerable to illness and disease. The state of one’s mind affects the state of the body. The purpose of the “fight or flight” stress response that turns on during stress is to prepare our body for emergency situations, like sprinting from a bear. As part of this response, our immunity becomes severely depressed.
Ever notice how you tend to get sick during or after periods of extra stress or exhaustion (like the holidays, after exams, during big work projects)? Short bursts of “fight or flight” can be beneficial (such as during our workouts), but when they become prolonged and chronic, they become detrimental.
Incorporating stress management techniques and keeping your chill is an effective way to keep your immune system healthy and functioning the way it is meant to.
Although it’s become “honorable” to romanticize busyness and constant productivity – remind yourself that rest is also an integral component of productivity.
Do you have any tips for staying healthy this winter? Share them below in the comments?
Need help? Reach out and let’s chat! Erika@HurstStrength.com
>> Please note: I am not a doctor. Or even close to one. If you find yourself getting sick often, I highly advise you to consult with your doctor. <<