Fall is here, so arm your body against colds and flu! Believe it or not, your body has the power to fend off illness. Natural ways to strengthen your immunity include:
- Cut back on sugar. Sugary foods break down quickly into simple sugars. Your body responds to this with a spike in insulin, which suppresses your immune system. Avoid foods like sodas, fruit juices, breads, pastas, and sweets, especially when you are feeling ill.
- Eat your fruits and veggies. The nutrients in fresh fruits and veggies support the function of your immune system, so it can ward off invaders. If you feel that you’re “coming down with something,” eat fresh oranges. Vitamin C is actually a complex of beneficial chemicals, and typical vitamin C supplements only contain one of these chemicals (ascorbic acid). Whole foods and whole food supplements are superior sources of nutrients.
- Manage your stress levels. When we are anxious or irritated, we release stress hormones to prepare for a “fight-or-flight” response. This suppresses the immune system, because the body can’t fight against external threats (even imaginary ones) and internal invaders at the same time.
- Exercise daily. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of jumping jacks, push-ups, and squats, get your heart rate up and break a sweat! Not only will this relieve stress, it improves your body’s circulation. It also gives you a reason to get outside.
- Get some sun every day. Sunshine helps to build vitamin D in our bodies. Many of us think sun exposure is not healthy, but humans evolved with daily sun exposure for thousands of years. Get 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure each day in the summer. In Minnesota, we need 20 minutes or more in the winter months.
Next week, we’ll discuss advanced ways of strengthening your immune system. Today, we discussed “self care,” or what you can do on your own. Up next: health care to strengthen your immunity. Power up!
About the author: Dr. Barbara Kaiser, DC, CCWP, is a wellness-certified chiropractor at Vital Life Chiropractic in Eagan, Minnesota.