5 Strategies to Sidestep Sickness This Winter

by Emily Macadam on August 21, 2020

According to the calendar – and the weather – summer is still in full swing on the north side of the equator. But as students prepare to return to school and the first hints of autumn arrive on the breeze, these hot and humid days will give way to crisp and cool nights. Declining temperatures and decreases in outdoor activity, sunlight exposure, and natural immune system defenses provide ideal conditions for an increase in pathogen and virus activity. Before we know it, cold and flu season will be upon us once again.

woman sitting on couch wrapped in blanket sneezing into tissue

This year is unique in that immunity and good health practices have remained top of mind throughout the spring and summer months as we’ve battled the COVID-19 pandemic globally. With doctors and scientists alike issuing warnings that we may see new spikes in infection rates as temperatures drop, it’s crucial to start ramping up these practices now to strengthen our bodies’ defenses and establish healthy habits that will support wellness through the winter and beyond.1

Here are five strategies you can implement now to stave off sickness during cold and flu season, and continue using to support your immune system all year long!

1. Shift your diet seasonally.

Nature knows best when it comes to nutrition. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables are available year-round in conventional grocery stores, but they’re grown in hothouses or tropical climates during the seasons they don’t grow naturally. Instead of sticking to the same produce choices regardless of the time of year, select fruits and vegetables that are in season to give your body the nutrients it needs for optimal health. Raw produce is great for spring and summer months, while fall and winter are ideal seasons for heartier options like root vegetables, squash, and sweet potatoes; vitamin C-packed produce like bell peppers and citrus fruits, and nuts and seeds that contain dryness-fighting oils and fats.

vegetable soup on wooden table in turquoise bowl with carrots, chicken, parsley garnish

Combining root vegetables into soups and stews with nutrient-dense bone broth is a great way to up your vitamin and mineral intake – and get an extra hydration boost while you’re at it!

2. Make sufficient sleep a non-negotiable.

Getting enough sleep each night to feel rested and alert the next day is one of the simplest ways to keep your body healthy and happy. Quality sleep gives your systems time to reset and recover, enhances your ability to concentrate, solve problems, and retain information; lowers inflammation and your risk of numerous diseases, improves your energy levels, and encourages a healthy weight and appetite regulation.2

Sleep studies have revealed a connection between normal circadian rhythms and T cell and cytokine activity, as well as demonstrating the positive effect of sleep on immune system “memory.”3 Conversely, sleep deprivation contributes to inflammation and heightened stress, both of which can weaken immune system responses. Get sufficient shut-eye to keep your body’s defenses against germs and pathogens strong!

3. Wash your hands.

This one should be a no-brainer. Washing your hands with antibacterial soap is the easiest way to stop the spread of germs and viruses by killing them before they can take root inside your body. During cooler months, frequent hand-washing can dry skin out and lead to painful cracking, so make sure you have a bottle of moisturizing lotion or hand cream close by. Keep high-traffic areas clean by sanitizing them regularly, and take extra care to frequently disinfect common germ carriers like phones and computers.

man of color washing hands in white porcelain sink

4. Steer clear of stress.

Because stress varies so greatly from person to person, it’s difficult for scientists to design studies that accurately determine its effects on the body. But enough evidence exists to support the general consensus that chronic stress suppresses the immune system. Stress triggers the increased production of the hormone cortisol, which can contribute to inflammation when it remains in the blood for extended periods of time. In addition, stress can lower the number of infection-fighting lymphocytes in circulation, raising the risk of infection.

Mindfulness and yoga practices can help lower high levels of stress hormones, as can regular exercise, emotional support, and getting adequate sleep. For the management of severe chronic stress, some major reprioritization or a drastic decision like changing career paths or moving may be necessary in order to reestablish boundaries and create space for crucial self-care practices.4

group of people in yoga studio doing child's pose on mats

5. Step up your supplement game.

Don’t wait until sickness strikes to start incorporating supplements into your wellness routine. A nutrient-dense diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables will help to provide your body with necessary nutrients, but some vitamins and minerals found in plants are poorly absorbed and may not deliver substantial benefits. Supplements like Vitamin C, High-Potency Zinc, Lung SupportOxyPlex, and Gut Health can boost nutrient absorption, support immune system function, and promote cell defense against damage caused by free radicals.

Known for its storied ability to reduce the length of the common cold, vitamin C promotes the activity of immune cells as well as contributing to the formation of collagen and enabling the absorption of plant-based iron to support blood production. Combined with rose hips to encourage relief from joint discomfort and inflammation, U.S. Doctors’ Clinical Vitamin C is a natural, high-absorption immune booster designed for daily use.*

Zinc is responsible for the mobilization of T cells and natural killer cells that fight infection, inhibit bacterial growth, and reduce cold symptoms. Regular supplementation with zinc may shorten the length of a cold by as much as 33%!5 Get ahead of the sickness curve with U.S. Doctors’ Clinical High-Potency Zinc, formulated with fellow essential minerals calcium and magnesium for well-rounded immune system support.*

The mucus in the respiratory tract is a key defense against illness-causing pathogens, sweeping foreign substances away from the lungs to be expelled by coughing or swallowed and destroyed by stomach acid. [7] Smoking can interfere with mucus production and damage the tiny hairs called cilia that mobilize the mucus layer for pathogen removal. U.S. Doctors' Clinical Lung Support helps to provide the respiratory tract with nutrients that promote healing and restore natural function during the smoking cessation process. If you've never been a smoker, this blend of natural extracts encourages lung health and helps to keep the respiratory tract free of bacteria and viruses.*

Vitamin A and selenium both have positive effects on inflammation and immune system responses, regulating cell activity and providing defense against unstable molecules known as reactive oxygen species. U.S. Doctors’ Clinical OxyPlex includes vitamin A, selenium, and a proprietary blend of antioxidant extracts to support and maintain cellular health.*

Did you know that the gut comprises over 70% of the immune system?6 That means keeping the gut microbiome healthy and balanced is of utmost importance. U.S. Doctors’ Clinical Gut Health provides probiotics to promote immune system resilience as well as good digestion, better nutrient absorption, and a strong intestinal lining to discourage the development of inflammation and related conditions like IBS or leaky gut syndrome.*

There’s no time like the present

Just like you shop for winter clothes before the season has officially started so that you’re not caught off-guard when the first storm hits, establishing your strategy for winter wellness before cold and flu season reaches its peak is the best way to make sure you’re well prepared. Stock up on supplements, opt for seasonal produce, and shift your bedtime schedule to boost your nutrient levels and give your body time to recover, reset, and keep fending off pathogens.

happy people in winter coats running on a trail through snowy woods

Creating a game plan and committing to it just might be the key to your healthiest winter yet!

*These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

SOURCES

    1. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-a-covid-19-wave-in-the-fall-could-look-like
    2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
    4. https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/decisions-that-cut-stress
    5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28515951/
    6. https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/things-your-gut-wants-you-to-know
    7. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders/biology-of-the-lungs-and-airways/defense-mechanisms-of-the-respiratory-system

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