Fall is here and there are people sneezing, coughing and blowing their noses everywhere. I have been helping my patients decrease their cold and flu risk this fall, and I’d like to help you gear up, too.
Here are my top three tips to help you boost your immune system and greatly reduce your chances of getting sick this season.
1. Eliminate or Avoid Sugar — Its a real bummer, but sugar has been shown to decrease immune response. When you’re eating sugar, you’re more likely to come down with a cold or flu. Plus, if you’re already sick, healing is going to be slower.
The truth is, sugar isn’t doing you any favors. Reducing or eliminating it from your diet can greatly improve your body’s ability to protect itself from getting sick. The most important sugars to avoid are white sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juices, and any foods that are high in sugar and low in protein and/or fiber.
Quick Tip! — When you feel a hankering for something sweet, reach for some fruit, where the sugar is balanced by fiber. If cutting sugar completely out of your diet is too hard, then try greatly limiting the amount of sugar you eat.
2. Take Contrast Showers — This is one of the easiest natural ways to boost your immune system, and it can be done in the comfort of your own home. A contrast shower is just like a regular shower, except you alternate between hot and cold water. They are a great way to increase circulation, boost your immune system, and support your overall health.
To do a contrast shower, start with three minutes of hot water on your body followed by 30 seconds of cold water. Repeat this three times, being sure to always end with cold water.
Quick Tip! — Start each day with a contrast shower to get the full benefit. It can be hard at first to get used to having cold water on your body. However, after a few showers, it becomes much easier to do.
3. Maintain Adequate Vitamin D Levels — It has long been known that vitamin D is an important part of bone health. However, more recent research has shown that it is also crucial to immune health. In the Pacific Northwest, sun exposure is generally not adequate to keep your vitamin D at optimal levels. Inadequate vitamin D can cause decreased immune response (as well as an increased risk of cancer and possibly seasonal affective disorder).
Vitamin D levels can be checked by a simple blood test. And once your level is known, there are simple and effective ways to increase the amount of vitamin D in your body and boost your immune system.
Quick Tip! — Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels today to see how much vitamin D you should be taking per day. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, so it is important that you aren’t taking too much since you won’t pee out excess amounts like water soluble vitamins.
Getting sick is no fun, and it can make daily life much more difficult. You don’t need to spend the fall and winter months feeling bad. Use these tips to boost your immune system today so you can get the full enjoyment out of this time of year.
Take care and be well,