Winter is coming and it is nearing the time where most of us are beginning to get sick. During the next couple of months, the cold weather seeps in and joins forces with rainy days, or snowy if your farther north. Some suggests that these conditions are perfect for the cold and flu season. But why is it that we get sick during the fall and winter seasons?

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), although flu viruses can be found year round in the United States, these viruses are more common during the fall and winter months. Even though the timing and duration vary from year to year, activity begins around October, with peak activity during the months of December through February. So right now is the time to strengthen our immune system for the upcoming battle.

There is an abundance of information that directs you to different methods and foods that offer immune boosting benefits. Some have been passed along from generation to generation, and most of those methods have been proven true through research and years of trials.

Here are five ways to boost your immunity for the coming winter months:

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Get Enough Sleep: Believe it or not, sleep can have a major role in your immunity and how strong it can be. Research shows that sleep and the circadian cycle can enhance the formation of immunological memory, helping to create higher levels of antibodies, and thus prevent future illnesses. Sleep also contributes to the regulation of a person’s adaptive immunity, helping to eliminate and prevent future pathogens. Therefore, lack of sleep can decrease your immunity. The optimal amount of good sleep for most adults is between 7-8 hours.

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Ginger It Up: This helpful culinary root can be used beyond your spice cabinet. Ginger has been used in a wide variety of foods such as baked goods, dressings, and teas. Best of all, you don’t need a lot to enjoy its flavor, or its health benefits. Ginger has been shown to support the body’s natural defense against disease by activating T-cells. These cells are a group of white blood cells that are one of these most important part of your immune system as they are capable of destroying cells that have been infected. In addition, ginger contains two phytochemicals, shogaols and gingerols, that have been shown to have healthful effects. These substances, which give ginger its spicy kick, help stimulate blood circulation and opens your sinuses. With improved circulation, more oxygen is allowed into your tissues to help remove toxins and viruses. Try adding ginger to stir fry’s or making my Lemon-Ginger Tea.

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Eat Your Colors: I can’t say this enough. The key to healthy nutrition and to boost your immune system, is variety. The way to help your body repair and restore itself is through a full range of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The simplest way to think about this concept is color. The colors in fruits and vegetables are caused by phytochemicals, which have been shown to have a range of healthy properties. So, I recommend you eat blueberries, broccoli, strawberries, purple potatoes, colored corn, black rice, yams, and all the other colors of the fruit and vegetable rainbow. The simplest way to achieve this is by roasting vegetables, making a vegetable soup, or make a fruit and vegetable smoothie. Snacking on fruit is also a great idea.

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Drink Green Tea: Green tea is one of the most popular beverages known around the world. Having been consumed by some cultures for thousands of years, the beverage has also gained much attention in recent years as a health food. Aside from its polyphenol content and antioxidant properties, green tea also has a special compound that helps with immunity. Research shows that the compound EGCG, found in green tea, can help elevate the number of “regulatory T-cells.”  These cells play a key role in a person’s immune function and helps to suppress autoimmune disease. Try buying or brewing decaffeinated green tea and make it your liquid of choice for your day.

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Add Some Camu-camu: Camu-camu is a Peruvian superfruit from the Amazon rainforest, which has been extensively covered in my books Peruvian Power Foods and Whole Body Reboot. The camu-camu fruit is light orange in color, and is roughly the same size as a cherry, but usually found in powdered form in the United States. What sets apart this fruit is that it is one of the world’s most potent sources of vitamin C — packing more than 60 times the vitamin C per serving than the almighty orange. In fact, depending on the brand, consuming just one teaspoon of camu-camu powder can provide you with up to 1200% of your daily required intake. Better yet, the vitamin C in camu is more easily absorbed than from supplement pills, as your body better utilizes nutrients that come from natural sources. vitamin C is known to boost immunity and is a potent antioxidant. You can add camu-camu to your favorite smoothie for an extra health punch.

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