As you probably have noticed, the leaves are starting to fall, the sun is becoming scarce, and the weather is getting colder. This can only mean one thing…winter is coming! With the lower temperatures and early sunsets comes some pretty great things: comfy sweaters, cute boots, and s’mores parties! Unfortunately, the Fall and Winter seasons also brings on sicknesses including the common cold and flu.
The rhinovirus and coronavirus are to two main culprits of the common cold and it just so happens that cooler weather lets them flourish. All it takes is a few particles to enter your nose (whether it be through a cough, sneeze, or your own hands) and an infection is started. From there it takes about 8-12 hours for cold symptoms to start. This is where the strength of our immune system kicks in! The immune system produces antibodies that attack and destroy viruses and bacteria (among other things). When the immune system is weak, that process does not happen as effectively.
So, right now, before the super cold weather comes, is the perfect time to make a few easy changes to your lifestyle and diet to build your immune system. They are simple actions that can prevent you from catching the dreaded cold.
Diets low in zinc can cause great decline the activity of immune system. Believe it or not, over 70% of Americans are deficient in this mineral. Increasing your zinc intake is as simple as incorporating a few specific foods into your diet. Foods that have the highest levels of zinc are: oysters, grass-fed beef, sesame seeds, pumpkins seeds, and cashews.
2.) Limit your intake of sugar
Just two tablespoons of sugar weaken your immune system for up to 4 hours!
3.) Vitamin D
Vitamin D is classically known for its effects on calcium and bone strength, but it also has a huge impact on the innate and adaptive immune systems. In other words, vitamin D can help strengthen not only the immune system that constantly provides cells to fight invaders (the innate immune system), but it also helps strengthen the immune system that kicks in when those cells can’t get the job done (the adaptive immune system).
4.) Eat healthy fats
Omega 3’s and 6’s are needed by the immune system to create prostaglandins, which are what kill germs and other bacteria and viruses. Cold water fish such as salmon, arctic char, and mackerel are your best choices when it comes to food. Pastured eggs can be a great choice as well!
5.) Common sense: get enough sleep and wash your hands
The two things that we all know we should do, but seem to be really hard on a regular basis. When you are well rested your body works at its optimal level. We all know how great it feels to get those 7-9 hours of sleep per night. And do I need to say more about washing your hands as they are one of the main transmitters of a cold?