It’s cold and flu season. Everyone I know has a sick kid, is just getting over something, or is trying as hard as they can not to catch whatever is going around. We’ve been told that a healthy lifestyle is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy, but what does that really look like?
I’ve broken my recommendations down into two different groups, nutrients and habits, to make this as simple as possible. Why? Because then you’re more likely to add these things into your everyday routine and not just when you’re feeling under the weather.
Nutrients That Support Your Immune System
These are my top 4 to help build a strong immune system all year long (and yes, I know there are more but remember what I said about keeping this simple?).
- Vitamin A: Helps protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory system healthy. Food sources of vitamin A include orange and red fruits and vegetables (for example, carrots, apricots, and bell peppers).
- Vitamin C: Fuels the formation of antibodies and the production, function, and movement of white blood cells. Food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin D: Helps regulate antimicrobial proteins that can directly kill pathogens. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (like salmon), egg yolks, and fortified foods (dairy products, cereal, and some orange juices). You can also absorb vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.
- Zinc: Used for wound healing and supports your immune response. Food sources of zinc include meats, whole grains, milk, seeds, and nuts.
- *Bonus – Garlic: The active ingredient in garlic, allicin sativum, is thought to have antiviral and antimicrobial effects on the common cold.
Habits That Support Your Immune System
That have nothing to do with food.
- Sleep: Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick so aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
- Movement & Rest: There is evidence that regular physical activity might contribute to a more effective immune response. However, if you aren’t feeling well, take it easy! This could look like lowering the intensity of your workout or taking a few days off until you feel like yourself again.
- Hygiene: This should go without saying but, wash your hands!
Listening to your body, especially during cold and flu season, will help you to recover quickly and get back to feeling like the best version of yourself. Building a healthy relationship with food, movement, and your body goes hand-in-hand with building a healthy immune system. If you are interested in learning more about my 1:1 coaching program start by watching my short program video and completing the contact form!