As we enter the cooler months over winter, it’s important to take proactive steps to boost your immunity by supporting, strengthening and maintaining your immune system. With colder temperatures and the increased spread of seasonal viruses, our body’s defence system needs a little extra love and support. By adopting a holistic approach to your health and immunity; that includes adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and appropriate supplements, you can support your immune system and enjoy a healthier winter season. In this blog post, we will explore the most effective ways to support your immunity and help keep winter illnesses at bay. If you’re interested in natural ways to improve your health, click here.

1. Prioritise quality sleep to boost your immunity:

Sleep is often undervalued but plays a vital role in maintaining our immune system. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night and prioritise the quality of sleep you are getting. We often can’t change or influence things that break our healthy sleep patterns eg. children, shift work and other external influencers but what is important is what we do when we are asleep. A good indication of quality sleep is how you feel in the mornings. We should be waking feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to attack the day. During sleep, your body produces and releases cytokines, proteins that regulate our immune responses. A lack of sleep can reduce the production of these cytokines and therefore compromising your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. By establishing good sleep hygiene practices through a regular sleep routine, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, limiting screen time before bed, and practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to promote better sleep and in turn support the immune system.

2. Nourish your body with a balanced diet:

The food we choose to put in our body becomes the building blocks for all our cells – our bones, organs, brain, nerve cells, immune cells… every single cell!
If you want a STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM, you need to start with upgrading your nutrition. A nourished body is a strong body. Sickness can be dealt with quickly and effectively. You will bounce back quicker.
A well-rounded and nutrient-dense diet is crucial for supporting a healthy immune system and general well-being. Include a variety of fresh wholefoods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that enhance immune function. Incorporate immune-boosting foods like citrus fruits (rich in vitamin C), leafy greens (loaded with antioxidants), garlic (known for its antimicrobial properties), and yoghurt (probiotics support gut health and immunity). Avoid excessive sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, as they can weaken the immune system. Did you know that sugar – 1 tsp slows white blood cells for up to 5 hours!

3. Stay active with regular exercise:

Who has heard “sitting is the new smoking?

Physical activity not only helps maintain a healthy weight and improves cardiovascular health but also enhances immune function. Engaging in regular exercise boosts the production of antibodies and white blood cells, which are crucial for fighting off infections.

Moving our muscles moves our lymphatic fluid around our body, bathing our cells and removing wastes. Our immune cells live within our lymphatic system so exercise, sweating and movement all aids in our detoxification and immune support process.

Researchers have shown just 20-30 minutes of daily movement results in a much stronger immune system – especially through winter

A study conducted by the University of California found that this type of moderate exercise stimulates the immune cells and produces an anti-inflammatory effect

Aim for at least 120 – 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 60 – 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Choose activities you enjoy, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, pilates or yoga. If outdoor activities are limited during winter, consider additional home workouts on top of your regular routine. Join a group fitness gym and get active!

4. Manage stress levels:

Stress is defined as “a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”
Chronic stress can suppress the immune system as there are fewer infection-fighting white blood cells during periods of stress, making you more susceptible to infections. Cortisol is one of our stress hormones. It is essential to good health – when it is in balance. With long term stress, our cortisol can stay in the system for too long and this is a problem. Cortisol’s job is to keep us alive – so it turns off functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters our immune response, suppresses the digestive system so we don’t absorb nutrients well, and negatively affects sleep – so we have less of it, and in turn less time to repair & heal.
Prioritise stress management techniques to support your immune system during winter. Incorporate practices like meditation, breathwork, yoga, or mindfulness into your daily routine. Engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and practising self-care activities can also help reduce stress. If necessary, consider seeking professional help to manage stress effectively.

5. Support and boost your immune system with supplements:

As a Naturopath and Nutritionist I am all about preventative medicine and improving health
While a balanced diet should provide most of the necessary nutrients, certain supplements can support immune function, especially during winter. Immunity as well as all of the above immune supports are very common concerns when treating patients @ Wildsoul. Some commonly recommended supplements include:

  • Vitamin D: Due to reduced sunlight exposure in winter, supplementing with vitamin D may be necessary to maintain optimal levels, which play a crucial role in immune function.
  • Vitamin C: Known for its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C helps enhance white blood cell activity. Consider supplementing if you struggle to get enough through diet alone.
  • Zinc: This essential mineral supports the immune system’s normal functioning and helps reduce the duration and severity of colds. I use a Zinc & C powder in clinic, well tolerated and easy to give to children too. Divided doses throughout the day.
  • Probiotics: A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system. Probiotic supplements or fermented foods like yoghurt or sauerkraut can support a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
  • Protein: made of amino acids these compounds help turn key players in your immune system — T cells, B cells, and antibodies — into germ fighters that spot and kill harmful cells that enter your body before they can start an infection
  • Iron: The role of iron in immunity is necessary for immune cells proliferation and maturation, particularly lymphocytes, associated with the generation of a specific response to infection.
  • Herbal Formulations: containing: Andrographis, Echinacea, Elderberry, Withania, Astragalus, Thyme, Ginger, Elderberry, Yarrow etc (depending on your symptoms)
  • Echinacea and Andrographis: MUST be practitioner grade and it takes 2 weeks to increase white blood cells, so take at a low dose as prevention, increase if you get a cold

Always speak to a qualified practitioner for a personal recommendation

As we enter the winter season, supporting our immune system becomes paramount in safeguarding our health. By implementing proven strategies discussed in this blog post, including prioritising sleep, nourishing our bodies with a balanced diet, staying active, managing stress levels, and considering immune-supportive supplements, we can fortify our immune defences and enjoy a healthier winter.

Remember, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a naturopath, to personalise your approach to immune support. We can provide expert guidance based on your individual needs and health profile. Naturopaths specialise in natural remedies and holistic approaches to healthcare, and they can offer valuable insights on optimising your immune system and overall well-being.

If you’re ready to take charge of your health this winter, we encourage you to book an appointment with our Naturopath Mel today. She can help assess your immune function, address any underlying health concerns, and provide tailored recommendations to support your immune system throughout the winter season and beyond.

Investing in your immune health now can have long-lasting benefits, not only in preventing winter illnesses but also in maintaining overall wellness. So, take that step towards a stronger immune system by booking an appointment today. Your immune system will thank you, and you’ll be better equipped to embrace the winter season with vitality and resilience. Stay healthy and enjoy a wonderful winter ahead!