- Cold weather is a time when pathogens flourish and place extra stress on our immune system. Our daily lifestyle can help or hurt its function.
- Reducing refined sugars, practicing proper hydration, stress management, exercise, quality sleep, and high-quality supplementation are all ways that help protect your health.
- If you are still not feeling well, there are specialized tests such as cortisol levels that the Tulio Health Team may use to help guide your treatment plan.
As soon as the cool weather begins, so does our struggle against seasonal sickness. The dreaded days of zero energy come upon us in those fall and winter months. It may seem nice to spend a few days watching TV and staying home, but it gets old fast, and we yearn for a routine with structure.
The immune system is quite complex, and as we learn more about our interconnected system, we realize how seamlessly interconnected we are. There is a growing understanding of how genes, our environment, and our personal choices can help or hinder immune health.
Supporting your whole body daily is by far one of the best ways you can help your body avoid getting sick and respond more efficiently when you do get bit by the cold weather bug.
Eat Real Food & Stay Hydrated
You’ve heard the adage that “Food is Medicine”, right? It is! And truthfully, real food still does not receive the credit it deserves. Nothing beats a strong diet. A well-rounded, whole food-based diet that boasts of colorful veggies and fruits gives your body the foundation of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to fight off illness.
As a Nutritional Therapist, I encourage all my clients to avoid sugar as much as possible while helping them seek alternative ways to combat any cravings. Excess sugar weakens your immune system which then allows bacteria and viruses to spread quicker. When we take a look at the leading chronic diseases of the westernized world, diabetes and heart disease top the list, and sugar is the driver of these diseases. We have evidence showing that white blood cells (those killer cells of the immune system) are not able to optimally do their jobs of destroying bacteria and viruses when there is excess sugar consumption. In recent literature, we know that dietary sugar lowers immunity and promotes metabolic disease. Our goal is to empower our clients to live with vitality, which is why nutrition is a large part of our model.
To keep your immune system working best, you need to be hydrated. Raise your hand if you have gone throughout most of the day, only to reflect that you did not have a single drink of anything but your morning coffee! (I see you out there – no shame). This happens to the best of us, but in reality, we need proper fluid balance to help our bodies eliminate any bacteria and toxins as well as support our detoxification pathways. The recommendation? Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water (150 lbs = 75 ounces of water minimum).
Move Your Body Daily
Daily?! Don’t be too surprised as we are meant to move our bodies – it’s a true pillar of wellness. There are numerous research articles about the positive benefits of exercise and how habitual exercise improves the immune system.
Don’t let this overwhelm you – that’s not the point! Short 10-minute walks throughout the day, adding up to 30-minutes a day is a great place to start.
Stress is often complex and multi-layered which is why there’s no magic “off” button. From a physiological perspective, stress does some crazy things to the body. Stress comes in all forms – work, finances, kids, relationships, life events, and more. In reality, it’s unavoidable so it falls on us to manage this stress in healthy ways (exercise is a possible way…hint, hint).
When we have chronic, unmanaged stress, the hormone cortisol rises which suppresses the immune system by reducing white blood cell production (our fighters). As you can conclude, long periods of suppression can leave you susceptible to illness.
Sleep is essential to every process in the body and the keyword is quality. We easily underestimate the value of sleep and staying on a cycle of fewer than 7 hours a night can eventually have negative effects. The goal is to feel refreshed in the morning, not struggling to get out of bed.
A study in 2019, out of Germany, demonstrated that sleep improves our T cells which are the type of white blood cell that attacks foreign particles. This study found that those participants who slept showed higher levels of T cell activation than those who did not.
Create a dark space, cool the room, and eliminate distractions so that you can make quality sleep a priority. If you are finding your sleep patterns are not consistent, connect with your healthcare provider for additional investigation.
Take Supplements Wisely
While there is no magic potion, nutritional supplements can contribute greatly to supporting your health when you use them properly with a nutritious diet. When it comes to cold and flu season, the following supplements are at the top of my list:
- High-Quality Multivitamin/Mineral
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3 +K2
- Zinc + Quercetin
I also like to include additional support from:
- Mushrooms (Astragalus, Reishi & Maitake)
- Colloidal Silver
Click here to see Tulio Health’s Top Picks (please note to view this list you can create a free Wellevate account).
Curious about how to optimize your health and support your immune system? Connect with us for more information.
This article is not meant to be construed as medical advice, rather printed for informational purposes only. Everyone’s health situation is different. As always, it is critical to discuss the use of any supplements with a licensed health care provider to ensure that any use is safe and potential effective in your medical status and condition.