As much as we hate to admit it, it’s officially flu season!
Did you know that people both get sick easier and stay sick longer in the wintertime? As we begin to spend more time indoors where germs spread faster and easier, we tend to get sick more frequently. However, supporting your family’s immune system by encouraging healthy practices can make a huge difference in staying healthy through the cold months.
Keep reading to find out how to easily and naturally boost your immunity this season!
What is Immunity?
So what is immunity, and how does it stop us from getting sick? Immunity refers to the body’s ability to be resistant from a pathogen or disease-causing agent.
A lot of factors can affect someone’s immunity levels, which change over time. As you grow older, your immune system begins to slow down and become weaker against pathogens. Your immunity can also change based on your lifestyle, habits, and as seasons change. Most importantly, you can always improve your immunity!
Active Immunity and Passive Immunity
There are two types of immunity: active, and passive. Active immunity occurs when someone is exposed to a pathogen in order to get the body to develop its antibodies and fight it - an example of this can be when flu shots are given out in anticipation of a flu season. Active immunity can also be boosted by your habits, lifestyle, and the foods you eat.
On the other hand, passive immunity refers to antibodies that are directly transferred from other sources to you - these provide instant immunity! This can be maternal (like immunity passed from mother to child via breast milk) or artificial, like after someone is bit by an animal. While we usually can’t improve our passive immunity, keep reading to find out how to improve your active immunity all year round!
How to Improve Your Active Immunity
Ready to improve your family’s immunity this season? Here’s how to do so easily and naturally!
- Develop a winter exercise routine. Though we often feel like curling up in front of the fireplace, making sure that the whole family is staying active every day has huge benefits to our immunity! When we exercise often, the antibodies in our body circulate more rapidly, allowing them to detect and fight disease faster than normal.
- Get lots of sleep and prioritize rest! According to the Mayo Clinic, sleeping helps your immune system release more cytokine, a powerful protein that helps detect disease and illness. Sticking to a steady sleeping routine is a great way to ensure that your immune system gets the downtime it needs to detect pathogens quickly,
- Eat nutrient-rich foods. Though it can be tempting to eat comfort foods all winter long, eating the right nutrients is even more important in the wintertime! Referencing this guide of seasonal winter produce is a great way to make sure your family is eating a variety of fruits and vegetables that support your immunity. Did you know that chili peppers and ginger are immune boosting powerhouses?
- Get outside when it’s sunny! Vitamin D is critical to regulating our immune systems, and making sure that we expose our bodies to sunlight is critical to ensuring our immune system is active. When the sun isn’t around, a great way to get more vitamin D is by incorporating more greens, beans, and fish into your diet.
- Watch out for alcohol and sugar! Ingested in excess, both sugar and alcohol negatively impacts your immune system by causing inflammation and damaging the immune cells in your body over time, making it harder to fight diseases.
- Don’t stress out. According to the National Library of Medicine, stress negatively impacts your immune system and can even suppress immune responses when you need them the most! Take the time to slow down, express your feelings with those you trust, and practice deep breathing and meditation this season.
- Stay on top of hygiene: Since more of us get outside less and less in the winter time, it becomes more important than ever to keep both yourself and the space around you clean and tidy! Washing your hands and body more often is a great illness-preventative measure to take this season.
- The importance of water: As much as we want to drink warm sweet drinks all winter long, water is critical to maintaining a healthy immune system! Water flushes out harmful bacteria and other toxins out of our bodies, so making sure you get 8-10 glasses to drink will make sure your immunity is at its best.