7 Ways to Improve your Immunity this Winter
by Leila Wright
Keep warm – but don’t overdo it!
Being outside for too long in cold weather can sap your energy and leave you feeling lethargic and run down. Your body needs warmth to maintain a happy temperature so that it can fight off illnesses and infections more easily. When you’re outside, make sure you’re wrapped up warm, and when you’re at home, wrap yourself in a blanket and wear fluffy socks to keep your toes warm! Don’t spend all your time indoors though; central heating is renowned for affecting the regulation of the body’s temperature and is a sure-fire way to catch illnesses that have been circulating through the air system all day!
Dose up on vitamin C
The most common illnesses in winter are the common cold and the flu, which can both have you tucked up in bed for days, or even weeks. Your immune system takes a hit in winter and rather than wait for it take its toll on you, you might as well prepare yourself so that your body can fight off illnesses quicker - and for you to be back on your feet in no time. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps to keep the cells in the body healthy. Natural sources such as citrus fruits are great, but when it comes to supplementing, avoid the cheap, sugary tablets that are nowhere near as effective as capsules. Choose a brand like Solgar or Viridian where you get quality for your money. Look for doses with over 1000mg of vitamin C for optimum health!
Take echinacea drops
This potent plant, which usually comes in tincture form, is one of the best immune-boosters out there - making it an ideal nutritional supplement in winter. It’s great to take alongside vitamin C, if you want to seriously improve your immunity. We’ve probably all resorted to antibiotics at some point in the past - whether out of choice or not - but we now know that they should only ever be a last resort for any illness. Their overall effectiveness is certainly questionable, but more importantly they sadly strip the body of all bacteria, including all the good bacteria that help us to fight off infection. Studies show that echinacea increases the number of white blood cells in the body, and it’s long been used as a natural remedy for healing the body from illness.
Get enough rest and sleep
Our bodies struggle to convert fat into energy when the weather is cold, and you may notice that you feel the need to relax much more at this time of year. It’s vital that you still move your body regularly (especially as we start indulging in more comforting foods) but your body is likely to warn you when it needs rest. Getting good sleep in winter is one of the best ways to allow your body to rest and restore, so that it doesn’t get run down. It’s during sleep that our bodies have the chance to regulate, and that translates through to our health. Good sleep very often means good health! You can’t say that a poor night’s sleep has ever left you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, right?
Laugh as often as you can
Depression is much more common in winter, and that makes total sense if we think about how little sunlight we see at this time of year and how much more time we spend at home – potentially alone. Despite this possibility, surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh and bring sunshine to those darker days are who you need to get in touch with! Laughter is the quickest and cheapest way to happiness in the moment, in return alleviating any stress and anxiety that can be harmful to the immunity of our bodies. Anyone have a joke worth telling?
Gargle garlic in warm water
Talking of laughing, this next tip is genuinely not a laughing matter – despite how it might sound. Although gargling is a little on the strange side, garlic is one of the easiest foods to get your hands on, and it happens to be the one with the most powerful immune-boosting properties. Garlic is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and much, much more. Gargling raw garlic in a little warm water with a pinch of salt is a really simple way to support your health. Top tip: it’s probably worth trying this on the weekend first to avoid being the talk of the office!
Breathe in essential oils
It would be hard to finish this post without mentioning essential oils, and when we know how well they can support our health with such powerful properties it’s hard not to. Whether they’re inhaled through a diffuser or during a bath, essential oils (which derive from plant extracts) enter the bloodstream quicker and reach the central nervous system with ease. Lavender and geranium can alleviate stress and anxiety, eucalyptus can clear the nose during a cold, and bergamot will stimulate the digestive system to keep your gut (and your energy) happy. We spend more time at home than any other time of year in winter, so why not make it smell wonderful and feel the benefits that come with it!
Leila Wright is a freelance writer and blogger, with a passion for creating a positive impact on mental health and the environment.