Cold and flu season can start as early as October and last until as late as April (of course this depends where you live). During this time there is minimal daylight and even then the sun, can be hidden behind clouds – plus it’s cold!
Not only are we more susceptible to getting sick but it’s also a time when some of the population experience S.A.D. As if we need anything else to worry about! In addition to going outside as much as possible (learn about the benefits of hiking here) and getting enough sleep, here are some other ways you can boost your immune system!
Before you do anything, make sure that your digestion is optimized. What does this mean? You need your digestive system to be working properly in order to break down and absorb nutrients from your food. This is how your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly and should always be top of mind. Experiencing symptoms like burping or passing gas after meals, indigestion or heartburn can all be potential indicators of poor digestion, as can more subtle complaints like fatigue, being hungry after eating and low mood.
In an ideal world, we would be getting all of our nutrients from the food we eat but sometimes we need a little boost. There are many supplements we can take during cold and flu season to help out our immune system.
Vitamin D: Since we get vitamin D from the sun, supplementing during winter is essential for some people. It is advantageous to start taking your supplement in the fall before winter hits and you feel depleted.
Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant, this vitamin boosts our immune systems in several ways. First of all, it aids the production of certain white blood cells, which are our body’s natural defense against infections. As an antioxidant, it both helps keep our skin healthy (which is a barrier to pathogens) and protects our cells against free radicals.
Zinc: This mineral gives our immune system a kickstart by helping it ward off invading pathogens and has actually been shown to diminish the length of a cold.
Echinacea: Similarly to vitamin C and zinc, this herb helps with the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are deployed when your body is exposed to bad bacteria or a virus and then mount their attack against the invader
Get Your Lymphatic System Moving
The lymphatic system is part of your cardiovascular system and immune system, so keeping it healthy is essential. When your lymphatic system is congested, your tissues may not be drained of fluid properly and you could experience symptoms like swollen lymph nodes, swollen hands or feet and chronic sore throats.
One popular way to keep your lymphatic system functioning properly is to dry brush. Dry brushing is incredibly easy and simply entails using a special brush to massage your skin. It is also incredibly relaxing and an exceptional pre-bath routine.
Lymphatic drainage massages are another way to get a congested lymphatic system moving. These are particularly useful for head colds or sinus infections. They consist of a special sequence of massage on your chest, throat, neck, face and head.
Finally, we have contrast showers. This is literally just switching the temperature of your shower back and forth between warm and very cold for a few minutes. The technique has been shown to help boost your immune system, as well as actually prevent colds when performed every day.