How You Can Boost Your Immune System This Winter

How You Can Boost Your Immune System This Winter

Winter is coming. We would already be preparing to battle the common cold and flu season during a “normal” year, but this year we have the added concern of COVID-19. What can you do to help boost your immune system this winter? Here are some suggestions.

Herbal teas to help boost your immunity
Photo courtesy of Hilary Hahn on Unsplash.

Herbal Medicine and Nutrition

There are several effective herbal remedies you can take to help boost your immune system this winter and then throughout 2021. You may have many of these verbs in your home already. Or you’ll find that you can easily access them in any health food store.

Beneficial Herbs

  • Dried Ginger Root – used to prevent the common cold, treat arthritis, inflammation, and various types of infection. Also, it has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
  • Elderberry – fights viral and bacterial infections while also helping to safely treat influenza A and B. But it is also helps reduce symptoms of allergies and tame inflammation. 
  • Echinacea – boosts immune and overall health, and has the ability to reduce viral infections and tumors. In addition, research indicates it increases the number of white blood cells, which fight infections.
  • Calendula – fights viruses, reduces inflammation and bacteria. People have used this for medicinal purposes since the 12th century.
  • Dried Oregano – this herb may be taken in capsule form and is known to protect against viruses and bacteria, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
  • Ginseng – Panax ginseng, also referred to as Korean ginseng and the most common variety studied, has shown promise in enhancing both immune and psychological functions.
  • Turmeric – Curcumin, a component of turmeric, is known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Research spanning the past three decades also shows that it can help modulate the immune system.
  • Ganoderma – Ganoderma, a type of mushroom known as Reishi, is a widely used herb in Chinese medicine for its immune-boosting effects as well as its ability to help fight viral infections.

Eating Well with Vitamin Supplements

It’s equally important to remember to include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet. These foods help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Foods that are high in antioxidants include: dark chocolate, pecans, blueberries and strawberries, goji berries, artichokes, beans, kale, spinach, beets, and red cabbage.

Meditation to help boost your immunity
Photo courtesy of Jared Rice on Unsplash.

The CDC recently stated that although dietary supplements aren’t meant to treat or prevent COVID-19, Vitamins C and D may affect how our immune system works to fight off infections, inflammation and swelling.

Yoga and Meditation

Mental and physical health play important roles your immune system. Yoga has proven benefits for both, because we know it can reduce stress, anxiety and inflammation while also fighting depression and chronic pain. It can also help sleep quality, improve breathing and help relieve migraines. Finding the time to practice yoga even two or three times a week may even be enough to make a noticeable difference in your health.

Meditation is becoming popular as more people discover its benefits. Much like yoga, meditation has also been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, enhance self-awareness, improve sleep, decrease blood pressure, and even help reduce age-related memory loss. There are many different styles of meditation that you can practice anywhere, and so you can choose a style that works for you. It can be a useful technique in improving your overall mental and physical health.

Rest

According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, during sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. That is, sleep could gives you the tools to boost immunity this winter.

People often underestimate the importance of sleep. Key things you can do to help ensure you’re getting adequate sleep include having a dark, cool bedroom environment and eliminating distractions from electronic devices. Also, exercise promotes better sleep. And while you’re monitoring your sleep, watch your consumption of alcohol and caffeine as well.

Mindfulness

We all know that stress negatively affects our immune systems, but it’s also been proven to lead to increased bodily inflammation. That inflammation increases our risk to be vulnerable to diseases and common infections. To help reduce stress, you can practice mindfulness. That practice focuses you on being intensely aware of what you’re feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. It involves breathing methods, guided imagery and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

There are tons of resources available online that demonstrate how to practice mindfulness. Check some of these options out:

Winter can be a valuable time for self-healing and reflection. As the days get longer and colder, try some out some of these techniques to boost your immune system. Your body and mind will thank you.

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