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My Top 8 Winter Wellness Tips for a Strong Immune System

Winter is right around the corner and 2021 is coming to a close. 

Brisk weather, cozy blankets, nourishing soups, warm beverages, increased time with friends and family, shorter days, and longer nights…

Whether you love the winter months or not, we can all agree on one thing (especially this year) that we want a strong immune system so that we can safely enjoy the holiday season, keep our kids in school, and have enough energy and vibrancy to check everything off our busy “to do” lists. 

With that said, I thought I’d compile a list of my TOP winter wellness tips that you can start incorporating today to help build strong immunity in you and your loved ones: 

1. Prioritize Getting Restful, Quality Sleep at Night:

Research shows that people who sleep less than 7 hours per night are almost 3 times more likely to develop a common cold than those who get at least 8 hours of sleep! 

Another study shows that getting enough sleep at night can improve immune function by boosting our T cells, which are key in destroying viruses and other pathogens. 

Here are some simple tips to help you sleep better at night:

  • Make sure to get outside and expose your eyes to sunlight right away in the morning and throughout the day as often as you can
  • This will help reset your circadian rhythm and give you more energy during the day and better sleep at night. If this isn’t practical for you, you can use a HappyLight which mimics the sun’s rays.  
  • Stop drinking caffeine after 12 pm. Caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for up to 8 hours and affect your ability to fall asleep at night. 
  • Try to avoid blue light for up to 2 hours before bed. If this is not something you can do, I recommend turning the “night light” setting on or wearing blue-light-blocking glasses. 
  • If possible, try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day to balance your circadian rhythm. 

Here is a great resource from The Mayo Clinic you can use to learn how many hours of sleep you should be getting per night based on your age! 

2. Take Supplements that Support Immunity: 

I recommend considering taking these supplements that have been shown to support immunity (this is not medical advice and you should always check with your care provider before starting anything new):

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Immunitone Plus
  • Zinc 

I wrote a whole blog post about why I think these are important for optimal immune function. You can read it here.

3. Consume Fermented Foods Rich in Probiotics: 

Did you know that we have over 100 trillion bacteria in our guts? This bacteria plays a key role in our immune system function. 

Research shows that consuming fermented foods on a regular basis can help reduce inflammation and improve immunity. 

Examples of fermented foods are:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt 

If you’re not used to eating fermented foods, it may take a while for you to enjoy the flavor, but I recommend staying consistent and trying your best to make them a part of your daily diet! 

4. Reduce Stress and Experience More Calm: 

That’s right… being stressed can actually weaken our immune system and makes us more susceptible to illness. 

Here are some simple tips on how to experience less stress and more calm in your day:

  • Say “No” to things in your life that are no longer serving you
  • Write all of your thoughts down on a piece of paper or in a journal 
  • Make an acupuncture appointment to relieve stress and anxiety. You can read my blog post about this here
  • Enjoy time in nature. Go for walk and leave your phone behind. 
  • Practice deep, restorative breathing to put your body into a parasympathetic state 
  • Spend quality time with your loved ones 
  • Diffuse lavender oil, light a beeswax candle and take a relaxing bath
5. Book an Acupuncture Treatment: 

Acupuncture with eStim (a safe, effective electrical stimulation therapy) has been shown to increase the number of T cells in the body, which – as we learned above – play a key role in destroying viruses and other pathogens. Furthermore, general acupuncture has been shown to decrease chronic inflammation which is paramount to having a strong immune system. 

I wrote a blog post about this topic- you can read about it here!

6. Enjoy Delicious, Nutrient-Dense, Whole Foods: 

Eating a variety of fresh, whole foods can strengthen your immune system and can help you feel better overall so that you sleep better at night and have more energy during the day! 

Here are some simple ways to enjoy more nutrient-dense foods this winter season:

  • Make Soup – What better way to warm up, fill your stomach, and get essential vitamins and minerals into your body? I recommend adding lots of garlic, as it is antiviral and has been shown to help prevent viral infections. You can also add nourishing vegetable broth or bone broth and a variety of colorful vegetables to up the nutritional value!
  • Prep at the Begining of the Week – Before your busy week starts, I recommend taking a few moments to plan what you and your loved ones are going to eat that week. Also, be sure to wash and cut fresh vegetables and store them in the fridge for quick access throughout the week. This only takes a few minutes to do and you will be so happy for the fresh, easy snack.
  • Find Satiating Substitutes for “Junk Food” – For example, instead of buying an overly processed, sugary brownie mix you could make black bean brownies! These are delicious, sweetened with honey, gluten, and dairy-free, and are packed with protein from the black beans (that I promise you can’t taste). Here’s a simple recipe you can try.
7. Move Your Body: 

Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to reduce inflammation and support the immune system. If you feel like you rarely (or never) have the time or energy to work out, I encourage you to start small and meet yourself where you’re at

Here are some easy ways to get more movement into your day:

  • Park in one of the farthest parking spots away from the store
  • Go for a 15-minute walk and enjoy breathing in the fresh air
  • Find a 10-minute guided workout for free on YouTube
  • Play tag in the backyard with your kids
  • Go for a bike ride on a local trail and soak in the beauty of nature
8. Prepare Yourself a Cup of Tea: 

This is such a simple, satisfying way to relax after a busy day and incorporate more healing herbs into your diet. Make sure to drink it out of your favorite mug and find joy and wonder in the whole experience of preparing this warm beverage for yourself.

Here are some teas I recommend trying – be sure to buy organic as most conventional teas are loaded with pesticides: 

  • Echinacea: Has been shown to support the immune system and shorten the duration of the common cold 
  • Turmeric: Is shown to be antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal 
  • Chamomile: Can help improve the quality of sleep you get at night
  • Rose Hip: Is shown to be high in Vitamin C, and antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory properties

Which one(s) of these simple and effective practices do you want to start incorporating into your daily routine?  I recommend just picking one or two that you can reasonably fit into your busy life and then build from there!

If you are ready to support your immunity by booking a restorative acupuncture session with me, then click here to schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation today! 

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