As the weather gets colder and we enter flu season, it’s time to give your immune system a little extra love.
This week we’ve put together 15 tools to help you feel good all winter long.
Why We Get Sick in the Winter
While we don’t know exactly why colds and stomach viruses tend to peak during wintertime, we have some strong ideas.
- Cold Air, Less Moisture: Cold air and lower humidity may make it easier for viruses to survive in the environment. (1)
- More Time Indoors: Winter weather often keeps us indoors more than warm weather, giving viruses greater opportunity to spread.(2)
- Less Fresh Air: Buildings have less ventilation than the outdoors, providing viruses the ideal conditions to hop from one host to another.
- Lack of Sunshine: With less direct sun exposure in the winter, we lose the levels of vitamin D necessary for the activation of the immune system.(3)
- Processed Foods: During the holiday season we often eat more processed foods than usual. These foods are loaded with chemicals, poor-quality oils, and sugar. For many people, processed foods are toxic triggers, overworking the immune system and causing inflammation.
- Lack of Sleep: The immune system uses large amounts of energy to ward off infections. Proper rest is one of the most important tools to boost the immune system and reduce stress, especially during the winter.
Boost Your Immune System
Now that we understand the possible causes of our increased susceptibility to colds in the winter, let’s get to what we can do about it. Thankfully there are lots of ways we can help prevent colds, and even speed up recovery if we get one.
The tools to overcome colds are a combination of vitamin supplements, flu-beating drink suggestions, and lifestyle practices to support your immune system (4,5). Start adding them into your life now to stay healthy and happy all winter long.
Immune Boosting Drink Recipes
Here are a few simple recipes that we mention in the image above to add to your winter clean repertoire.
Bone Broth: Warm bone broth is a nourishing food loaded with good fats and nutrients. Have it as a drink or add it to meals.
Turmeric + ginger tea: Add grated ginger and turmeric to boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Make a big pot in the morning and sip throughout the day. Honey is a great anti-viral sweetener for this time of the year.
Green Juice + ginger: Juice cucumbers, romaine leaves, celery stalks, a pear, and a 1-inch chunk of ginger for an immune boost.
Ginger shot: We mentioned this great recipe last week. It comes from our Clean Eats cookbook. For a warm version, add ginger juice, juice from half of a lemon , and a little honey to six ounces of warm water.
(4) Gibson, Am J Clin Nutr 2012 Effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on immune function in older people.
(5) Wichers, Anal Bioanal Chem 2009 Immunomodulation by food: promising concept for mitigating allergic disease?
(6) Faria, Frontier in Immunology May 2013, Food components and the immune system: from tonic agents to allergens.