Studies have shown a link between the nervous system and the immune system, and chiropractic should be a part of your health routine—but there are some other natural methods you can employ to boost your immune system during the colder months and hopefully stave off a cold or the flu.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Quality sleep is critical for good health! While the right amount of sleep for each person varies, aim for at least seven hours of high quality sleep each night. When you pull late nights or sleep fitfully on a regular basis, you actually weaken your immune system. In fact, studies have revealed that three nights of low quality sleep can drop your immune system function by 60 percent. Create an optimal sleeping environment: put your phone or alarm clock at least 3 feet away from your body, keep TVs and other screens out of the room and set the nighttime temperature between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Or sing aloud to a blasting radio or schedule an evening out with friends—whatever you do to relieve stress! Chronic stress is just plain bad for your body—and that includes your immune system. The Mayo Clinic states that the stress hormone, cortisol, changes immune system responses, and the American Psychological Association has an entire field, psychoneuroimmunology, devoted to learning more about the link between the mind and health. Make sure you are regularly relieving stress; if you’re dealing with chronic stress, seek out further recommendations from a wellness care provider.
Move your body
The cold and cozy months of the year might inspire you to curl up and hibernate, but studies show that remaining active can prevent you from being under the weather. In 2006, The American Journal of Medicine published a study that found that moderate-intensity exercise on a regular basis resulted in fewer upper respiratory tract infections and other infections in participants. Take a brisk walk in the evening, hit the gym in the morning or find a regimen of at-home exercises to do. The extra time and effort now will help prevent time wasted on the couch with a pile of tissues!
Dose of D
We don’t want to be a broken record, but please pay attention to your vitamin D intake! Research has shown a link between weakened immune response and vitamin D deficiencies. While it can be harder to get vitamin D in the fall and winter (its natural source is the sun), you can get your dose of D from egg yolks, beef, Swiss cheese, fatty fish and shiitake mushrooms, full-spectrum light therapy and trusted supplements.
Ditch the sugar
Sugar has been catching a lot of flak lately, but there’s good cause for concern and one of them is immune suppression—and this isn’t new. Four decades ago, a study was published by researchers from Loma Linda University, which demonstrated a change in the white blood cells’ ability to kill germs after participants consumed a large amount of sugar. In addition, further research links sugar to inflammation, and this includes white breads and pastas which quickly break down into sugar in the body.