Winter brings an alluring combo of fresh fallen snow, crisp weather & holiday festivities. Unfortunately, viruses and other icky ailments often spoil the fun. Strengthen your immune system so you can enjoy the winter, whether you're planning to decorate your home for the holidays or build a snowman with your loved ones. We've got seven easy-to-implement tips to help you enhance your immunity all season long.
1) Guard Your Gut
Eating the right foods can keep you from getting a stomachache, but did you know it can also boost your immunity? Your gut contains a whopping 70% of your immune system, which means your dietary habits play a huge role in your overall well-being.
Here are some ways to nurture your gastrointestinal system:
- Take probiotics and prebiotics so you have plenty of good bacteria in your belly.
- Go easy on alcohol, as frequent consumption can damage your digestive tract.
- Aim for a full 8 hours of sleep so your gut can heal itself as you snooze.
- Manage stress before it takes a toll on your digestive health.
- Treat constipation, diarrhea and bloating as they occur.
- Avoid processed foods, and don't rush through your meals.
Sometimes it's difficult to figure out if your gut is in good shape. Make sure you're having regular bowel movements, and let a doctor know if you struggle with constipation. Also, watch out for frequent episodes of gas, as these may indicate your gut needs some extra TLC.
2) Stay Social
Loneliness can be deadly, and we aren't just being dramatic. Lack of social interaction has the same effect on mortality as smoking an almost-full pack of cigarettes each day. Loneliness also triggers the body's fight-or-flight response, which can increase inflammation and lower immunity.
We understand social interaction can be challenging in these times, especially when you're trying to limit exposure to viruses or keep loved ones safe. If you aren’t able to meet a friend for lunch or visit your family at the moment, try these ideas:
- Chat with friends via social media messaging platforms.
- Share photos of special memories or recent events on Instagram.
- Do virtual TikTok duets with your loved ones.
- Schedule regular video chats with your favorite people.
- Find a pen pal and send each other cards, letters and small gifts.
- Practice social distancing while chatting with a friend from your porch or balcony.
- Join virtual support groups or groups tailored toward your hobbies and interests.
Social activities can be challenging when sickness is rampant in your community, but you can still keep in touch if you get creative.
3) Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, and it helps treat everything from migraines to nerve pain. Research indicates that acupuncture therapy can even boost your immune system. When performed correctly, acupuncture can increase red and white blood cell counts. It also strengthens anti-stress and anticancer immune function and stimulates inflammation-fighting properties.
If you're new to acupuncture therapy, the process may seem a bit intimidating — and understandably so. We're happy to ease your mind by discussing the process before you schedule a session. The needles are small and thin, and most patients describe the acupuncture experience as pain-free and relaxing.
4) Remain Hydrated
Dehydration can leave you feeling parched, but it also takes a toll on your immunity. When you're dehydrated, the volume of your body's blood decreases, and the same is true for lymphatic fluids. This makes it harder for your body to fight infections and function properly.
Prevent this issue by drinking water, tea or other healthy beverages throughout the day. Watch out for alcohol and sugary drinks, as these may just make you feel thirstier. And remember, the 8 cups-a-day water rule isn't appropriate for everyone, especially folks with kidney disease and other conditions. Work with your medical team to figure out how much water you need for optimum immune support.
5) Go Easy on Antibiotics
It's tempting to think that loading up on antibiotics during cold and flu season can help you stay healthy, but it's not accurate. Frequent antibiotic usage can damage your gut, which in turn may decrease your immunity.
When you're sick, make sure antibiotics are really the best option. Some doctors overprescribe antibiotics because patients want them, not because they are necessary. If you've already taken multiple antibiotics this season, ask your medial team if other remedies might be more appropriate.
6) Reduce Inflammation
Some inflammation in your body is okay, and at times, it can even be beneficial. Unfortunately, too much inflammation can weaken your immunity and break down the tissues in your body.
Dietary habits, lifestyle choices and painful injuries can all trigger inflammation in your body. To decrease inflammation in your body, consider the following tips:
- Avoid or limit your consumption of alcohol and nicotine.
- Watch your sugar intake.
- Eat whole foods made from natural ingredients, and limit processed foods.
- Make sure your diet contains plenty of vitamin C and zinc.
- Pay attention to how your body responds when you consume dairy or wheat, as these are common culprits for inflammation.
- Get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
- Treat any medical conditions that cause pain, such as sciatica or spinal stenosis.
- Exercise regularly by following a plan approved by your medical team.
Give us a call if you need other inflammation-fighting suggestions. We're here to help!
7) Consider Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care can help you realign your spine and decrease pain and inflammation. The International Chiropractors Association reports that visiting a chiropractor may also benefit your immune system. Regular chiropractic care supports the nervous system, and it can boost your physical and mental health.
Inflammation can decrease immunity, as we mentioned earlier. Chiropractic adjustments help to reduce inflammation in your body. Also, you may be more likely to exercise, socialize and do other immunity-boosting activities when you have less pain. Chiropractic care can help you prevent new ailments and treat existing ones.
Stay Healthy With Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine
People often associate Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine with pain relief, but that's not all we offer. Many of our services and treatments benefit your overall well-being. Connect with us if you need help enhancing your immune system this season, whether you're considering chiropractic care or have questions about acupuncture therapy. Our trained team is well-versed in immune system support and can help you create a custom plan that supports your health.