How to Boost Your Immunity All Year Long

November 19, 2021

     As much as we aren’t ready for it, Winter is fast approaching (maybe you're ready...I'm not!). That means we are about to be bombarded with advertisements and floods of social media influencers pushing all of their “immune boosting” products and supplements. While certain supplements like echinacea or elderberry may be helpful, the market is way oversaturated with products claiming to "boost" immunity. Now, I am ALL about taking care of your immune system, but this isn’t something we should only pay attention to once the cold weather hits. And we certainly don't want to be fooled by wallet-robbing products that may not be necessary. Here are some ways you can and should be taking care of your immune system all year round.

1. Eat ENOUGH. I can’t tell you how many people [women, usually] I work with that simply aren’t eating enough. It’s the age old story – not eating enough during the day, hungry and snacky at night, choosing foods that are low in nutrients but higher in calories to make up for the lost nutrition earlier in the day! EAT actual meals during the day, and notice how satisfied you actually are come night time. This leads me to #2…

2. Eat a varied diet. Don’t exclude food groups, but don’t put all your eggs in one [nutrient] basket, either. Loading up on just one nutrient (like Vitamin C) won’t PREVENT illness (some research shows that taking Vitamin C can shorten the duration of a common cold, but won’t prevent it.) Anyway, back to a varied diet; there’s no ONE nutrient or vitamin that protects your immune system more than others. Vitamin A, protein, zinc, and on and on, are needed for strong immune cells.

3. Your microbiota plays a critical role in immune function, as well. Despite what social media and targeted ads may tell you, you don’t need a fancy supplement or [insert color and flavor of the week drink here]. The best way to support the health of your microbiota is to eat a wide variety of plant foods and different types of fiber. We have trillions of different bacteria living in our large intestine, and they eat and thrive off different types of fibers. The less diverse your diet, the less diverse your bugs, and the weaker your immune system. Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, plus foods like nuts, beans, and whole grains.

4. Sleep! During a good night’s sleep, the body produces protective cytokines that can help you fight off an illness or infection.

5. Know your Vitamin D level. Vitamin D is a hormone that has been studied in multiple areas of our health, from depression to diabetes and immunity. It’s not something that is routinely checked on a basic metabolic panel, so unless you ask for it, or your doctor is really up on their lab-ordering game, low levels might get missed. If you are low – supplement! Talk to your doctor or an RD about how much to take.

6. Manage stress. In order to fight off infection, your body’s lymphocytes need to be ready to go! Under chronic stress, lymphocytes are decreased, increasing your risk for illness or infection.

I challenge YOU to take all of these things into consideration when assessing your health and what products you may or may not need. Are you protecting your immune system all year round?

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