How To Improve Immunity in the Winter: 5 Actions You Can Take Today to Improve Your Winter Immunity
To improve immunity in the winter, you need to focus on the basics of healthy living. True, more people do get colds and flus in the winter, but this doesn’t mean you need to go to extremes to keep your immune system boosted.
In fact, when you practice the basics of healthy living year-round, your immune system is ready for you whenever you need it – winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Immune system health is what gets us excited and keep us motivated at AHCC Research. We want you to be healthy and strong year-round so you can enjoy the best that life offers.
In this article, learn the facts on the immune system and five actions that you can take today to improve your winter immunity. As always, we want to hear from you. Connect with the AHCC Research community on Facebook and Twitter, tell us how your keep your immune system healthy in the winter (and year-round).
What is the Immune System?
Your immune system is complicated. It’s made up of a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that fit together like a puzzle to support your health and protect you from germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Your immune system has one job – to protect your body from invaders that can make you ill. To do this, your immune system is always scanning your body to determine if bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites, and other pathogens have entered your system or if any of your cells have mutated or become abnormal.
You have two basic types of immunity: innate and adaptive. Your innate immunity launches an immediate, non-specific attack against a threat. Your adaptive immunity takes longer to kick in but produces a specific response to a particular microbe.
Your innate immunity is your first line of defense and made up of the following:
- Cytokines. These are chemical messengers that help your immune cells communicate and coordinate an immune response.
- Natural killer (NK) cells. These are the white blood cells (WBC) that recognize and destroy infected or abnormal cells by injecting granules into them, causing them to explode. Your WBC count is key in understanding your overall health – an elevated WBC count can indicate an illness and a low WBC count can put you at risk for illness.
- Macrophages. These are special WBC that engulf and ingest bacteria and cellular debris.
- Dendritic cells. These are the WBC that present foreign substances to B and T cells, initiating an adaptive response.
Your adaptive immunity is your second line of defense:
- B and T cells. Both B cells (which mature in bone marrow) and T cells (which mature in the thymus) are lymphocytes – WBC cells that are able to recognize previous invaders and destroy them with a specific response.
You want your innate and adaptive immune systems to be as strong and alert as possible. Most of us get ill due to compromised immunity, and it’s important that you do all you can to prevent this from occurring.
To learn more about your immune system and how AHCC has been used to treat a range of health conditions, from minor ailments such as colds and flu, to serious diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease – read How does AHCC work?
5 Actions You Can Take to Improve Your Winter Immunity
Incorporate these five actions into your daily living to naturally strengthen your winter immunity:
Make Time for Sleep
There is a reason why everyone is talking and thinking about sleep. Sleep is critical to improving your immunity and keeping you well. When you sleep, your immune system goes to work releasing cytokines. Cytokines help promote sleep and they fend off illness by triggering an immune system response.
When you skimp on sleep, your body misses out on the crucial recovery, repair, and rebuild time it needs to get your immune system, brain, muscles, and heart ready for the next day of challenges. Sleep directly impacts your immune system strength.
Exercise for at Least 30 minutes A Day
Research shows that exercise can result in positive changes in your antibodies and white blood cells. Your white blood cells (part of the innate immune system) and antibodies circulate more quickly in your blood stream when you’ve been exercising regularly, making it easier for illness or infection to be detected earlier and faster.
Along with supporting and strengthening your immune system and sympathetic nervous system, regular exercise benefits your body in other ways:
- There is a theory that exercise helps flush or remove bacteria from your lungs and airways. This can help reduce your chances of catching a flu or cold.
- Exercise creates an increase in your body temperature. A slightly elevated body temperature has been shown to suppress the growth of bacteria and help you fight infections.
- Exercise is instrumental in suppressing the release and activation of stress hormones. This is why so many people find exercise is an ideal stress outlet. The lower your stress hormones, the stronger your body is and the better able your immune system is equipped to protect you from illness.
Aim for 30 minutes of daily exercise. This does not need to be super strenuous exercise. We just want you to get your body moving. Go for a walk, do some light yoga, go swimming or join an aquafit class, dig out your skis or snowshoes, shovel the driveway, take your kids sledding – just move your body so that your immune system gets the boost it needs to keep functioning at its best.
Eat the Rainbow
Eat your way to health with a wide range of fruits, vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. You are what you eat, and your diet is key in improving your winter immunity.
While we are firmly in the more vegetables and fruit – the better camp, some foods do get extra credit for the immune boosting properties. The next time you visit the grocery store, add these delicious foods to your cart: sweet potatoes, mushrooms, ginger, chickpeas, and yogurt.
Read Foods to Boost Immunity in the Winter: 5 Foods to Eat to Boost Your Immune System in the Winter to learn more about these foods and for links to recipes that feature these ingredients.
Support Your Body with Immune Boosting Natural Supplements
Sometimes it’s hard to get enough sleep, exercise, and healthy foods in your diet. We understand, you’re busy and on-the-go. And this is exactly why natural supplements are an excellent choice.
Natural supplements like AHCC that are clinically tested and proven to support improved immune system health should be a part of your day-to-day. AHCC is a functional food derived from healing mushrooms.
Because AHCC is a biological response modifier, it is able to turn up the dial on your natural immune response. This allows you to fight all kinds of threats to your health. Research shows us that AHCC can modify your innate and adaptive immune system response.
This means you’re better able to withstand the impacts of a virus, bacteria, auto-immune attack, inflammatory response, or other disease such as cancer, hepatitis, or diabetes.
Stay Connected with Your Community
In the winter our habits change. We don’t go outside as much, and we tend to stay closer to home. It’s super important that you remain connected to your community of friends, family, colleagues, and neighborhood.
Your mental health is deeply connected to your immune system health. We want you to get out and socialize, hang out with friends, share laughs, and continue enjoying your favorite hobbies and activities. Don’t let the snow, rain, short days, or February gloom keep you indoors.
We know it’s not easy but if you do one thing today - we want you to call a friend and arrange a night out at the movies, for coffee, or whatever. You’ll feel better, your friend will feel better and your immune system will be happy – a win-win situation.
Year-Round Immune System Health For The Win
These five actions that improve your immune system are the basics of a healthy well-balanced lifestyle. No one is perfect every day. There will be days when you miss out on sleep, don’t feel like eating string beans, or just can’t get motivated for a snowy lunchtime walk.
We get it. We know what it’s like. We just want you to make your immune system health a priority. Try your best to eat well, sleep, move your body, hang out with friends, and take your AHCC. When you do this on a regular basis, your immune system is boosted and ready for you when you need it – in the winter and year-round.