The next couple months are the height of cold and flu season in our area. No one, or at least no one I’ve ever met, enjoys the feeling of being sick for days on end.
Can it be avoided? Well, certainly there are ways to reduce your susceptibility to sickness. And your nutrition plays a big role in making you more or less prone to getting sick this winter.
The following are 6 easy nutrition tips for firing up your immune system to maximum capability this winter:
1. Stay Hydrated
‘Water acts like a sticky flypaper to trap things like dust, dirt and bacteria and prevent them getting to the lungs. If you are dehydrated, the mucous membrane will dry out. When this happens, it is half as effective.’
Indoor heating dries the air you breathe, and winter air is often dry already.
Therefore, winter is the time of year when staying hydrated is hardest. Factor in that we don’t always feel thirsty when we’re cold, and it becomes quite challenging to stay hydrated.
Here’s a clear picture of how powerful of an impact dehydration can have on your health.
Research shows that those who drink just three glasses of water a day were five times more likely to get a blocked nose or sore throat than those who drank eight.
So if you don’t drink any, or just one bottle a day? Good luck avoiding colds.
Aim for 1/2 your bodyweight, in ounces of water. A 100 lb person should have 50 oz. of water per day, as an example.
2. Add Lemon To Your Water Or Tea To Get Rid Of Your Nagging Cough
Sometimes we may not be sick any more, but a little cough remains with us for days or even weeks after all our other symptoms go away.
If you get this, try adding lemon juice somewhere in your diet. Two easy places are to add a lemon slice to your water (one or more of your eight glasses) or if you drink tea drop a slice in there. It cools down the annoying post-nasal drip that creates a chronic coughing condition.
This tip won’t get rid of a cold or flu on it’s own, but in the right situation it can be a great way to get some Vitamin C while curing a common condition that crops up during the winter months.
Not a believer in lemon to remove your cough? There’s a lot of support for honey too, as this article explains.
And that lemon might be even more beneficial to your health if you use the lemon peel too, as experts explain here.
3. Eat Foods That Are Proven To Reduce Stress
Yes, some foods actually do a great job of lowering our stress levels. They do so on a cellular level, but the effect they can have on your mindset is noticeable and powerful if you stay consistent with keeping them in your diet.
Foods such as:
Green, Leafy Vegetables
and many more can calm nerves that get frayed during the hectic holiday season. Remember your diet does more for your health that just what you see on the scale, the types of foods we eat and avoid have a powerful impact on our mindset, as well.
4. Eat Fish Or Add A Daily Fish Oil Supplement
Here’s the short version of a complex nutrition topic.
Your body needs both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats to stay healthy. An ideal situation would involve an exact balance of both.
Foods like fish contain high amounts of Omega-3’s, but things like plant oils and factory-raised animals are loaded with Omega-6’s. Most of us consume a lot more of the Omega-6 foods than Omega-3’s
Unless you either avoid processed foods or eat an eskimo-sized amount of fish in your diet, a fish oil supplement would do wonders for your winter health.
Want the longer version of why you should supplement with fish oil? Precision Nutrition has a great article on the topic – https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-fish-oil
(Side note: For those who’ve never taken them, the actual fish oil pills do not contain little fish inside of them as the picture depicts.)
Worried about packing on a few too many pounds this winter? Upping your vegetable intake is a great defense against overeating around the holidays because the fiber they contain keeps you feeling fuller. Just make sure to go easy on the dips, dressings and sauces you consume with them.
Veggies are a great choice at any time of year if you want to stay energetic and healthy, but in the winter months eating an array of quality vegetables will strengthen your immune system at a crucial time.
6. Get Outside
There are two big reasons to get outside as often as you can during the cold winter months.
First, getting a break from the drier, recycled air we breathe from heating systems all day is always a good thing. But even more importantly, absorbing Vitamin D from sunlight regularly may lower your risk of getting the flu, as this study on schoolchildren showed recently.
Nutrition and immune system function are very complex, and of course simplifying your health down to doing just six things doesn’t explain everything. On the whole, eating a nutritious diet, keeping stress levels moderate, and finding the right balance of exercise in your week (not too little, not too much) are all big picture areas to focus on.
But making sure as many of the 6 tips above are in place for you this winter will play a key role in keeping you out of the sick bed for most or all of cold and flu season.