There are so many lovely things to enjoy about winter: cozy weather, tasty food, holidays galore, time with family and friends—the list goes on. However, in order to stay in tiptop shape for all of the upcoming festivities, it's important to maintain a strong immune system (as we all know, seasonal changes can sometimes get in the way of that). Not to mention, it seems supporting immunity is even more crucial than ever at the moment.
So, as we close out the year in the healthiest way possible, keep these tried-and-true tricks in mind:
Eat a nutritious diet.
Eating a diverse diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is essential for overall health—and there are specific nutrients that play a role in supporting the immune system.
For example, integrative family physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., suggests trying to "get lots of vitamin-C-rich foods, like bell peppers, oranges, carrots." Additionally, "pumpkin seeds and oysters are rich in zinc and great to support your immune system," she says. (Here: 23 immune-supporting foods and drinks to add to your repertoire.)
Take a targeted immune-support supplement.
If you're not getting those recommended nutrients through diet alone (which can be challenging to do), Gandhi recommends adding a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or zinc supplement to your routine.*
Along with those two nutrients, mbg director of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, says to consider two particular plant bioactives, quercetin phytosome and yeast-derived beta-glucans.* Ferira explains that quercetin supplementation has been shown to strengthen immune resilience, while beta-glucans act as antioxidants and immunomodulators that prime our immune system for what's ahead.*
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Move your body (outside if possible).
"Managing stress is always the key when talking about supporting your immune system," Gandhi says. "Make sure you have carved out time weekly for self-care and to do things that nourish your soul!" Incorporating regular movement and exercise into your routine is critical for supporting mental health, and that includes mitigating stress. Plus, it supports gut health and promotes better sleep—both of which are crucial for immune health. (For some routine inspiration, check out our mbg moves series.)
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Get good-quality sleep.
While it's important to be proactive about your immune resilience all year long, during seasonal changes "you really want to stick to healthy habits, like adequately sleeping," says functional medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D.
Not only does sleep help manage cortisol production (aka the stress hormone), says Gandhi, but it also allows the immune system to rest, repair, and produce helper T-cells.
As we enter the winter season, with the holidays in full swing, it's important to keep our immune systems as strong as possible. The four tips above are a good place to start!
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.