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Change of season health tips: keep your immune system strong!

Change of season health tips: keep your immune system strong!

As the days get shorter and cooler, along come the sniffly noses, scratchy throats and phlegmy chests - the upcoming cooler months are not known as "flu season" for nothing! Most peoples' immunity struggles to adjust to the temperature change, so the sooner we start preparing our bodies, the better.

Before we dive into the important tips of how to keep your immune system strong as summer ends, let's quickly take a look at why our immune systems take a knock during the change of season in the first place. If we have a fundamental understanding of how our bodies operate and why the season change affects us to the point of becoming ill, we can better protect ourselves.

Why do we get sick in the cooler seasons?

Summer is fondly known for its long, sunny days. Outdoor activities in the warm sunshine are enjoyed by the old and the young and it's easy to find ourselves soaking up rays of Vitamin D from the sun. Exposure to sunlight not only increases the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin (mood-boosting hormone), but also the production of vitamin D, which plays a critical role in our health.

Winter means less sunshine and less Vitamin D

Sunlight has been proven to support the immune system by increasing white blood cells which play a major role in the body's defence against infection. Exposure to sunlight is also linked to improvements in bone health, cholesterol levels, nervous system health, sleep and cardiovascular health! Therefore, it makes sense that as the weather becomes cooler, we find ourselves inside more than outside, losing out on the awesome health benefits of the sun. 

Winter means more inside time and less fresh air

Being inside more frequently also means that we're in close proximity to more people in enclosed spaces with less circulating fresh air, making transmission of disease much, much easier..

We eat differently in winter

Besides the aspects of sunshine and Vitamin D, many people will agree that their eating habits are better in summer than in cooler months, especially winter. Because we're more active and outdoors in summer, we naturally find ourselves seeking out refreshing foods with a high water content. Fresh fruit, smoothies and light meals seem more appealing in summer, while heavier, cooked meals and comfort foods seem more appealing in autumn and winter. Health experts will agree that your health and immunity is linked to diet and nutritional income.

Colder weather favours viruses and bacteria

Moving on to the actual cause of the illness - viruses and bacteria! Certain viruses and bacteria survive and multiply more easily in colder temperatures. Combine these cold-loving microbes with an already compromised immune system or an immune system that is still trying to adjust to the season change, and you have a perfect recipe for coughs and sneezes!

How to make a difference and stay healthy this winter

Fortunately, by understanding why we are more susceptible to illness during weather changes, we can then know the measures (or necessary precautions) we need to take. Here's how you can protect yourself against the flu season: 

1. Expose yourself to sunlight as much as possible

    Although searching for sunshine in autumn and winter can sometimes feel futile, take advantage of every single ray whenever possible! Remember, Vitamin D is extremely important for keeping away seasonal sadness and infections! Even if it is not a particularly sunny day, the sun's rays do penetrate through clouds, so get outside as much as you can even if you can't see sunshine. Gardening, raking up leaves, taking the dog for a walk or going for a jog are all wonderful excuses to spend some time outdoors!

    If you're not getting enough sun, it's important to take a good quality Vitamin D supplement such as Solgar Vitamin D3 Capsules.

    2. Vitamins A and C

      For an extra healthy immune system, ensure you are getting enough Vitamins A and C to help prevent and fight off nasty infections! While we should be getting these vitamins from our daily diet, it's no secret that the nutritional value of food has decreased due to mass farming, GMOs, lower quality soil and so forth.

      Let's start with Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off free radicals and helps strengthen immune defences and mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Vitamin A also plays a crucial role in maintaining immune tolerance across the entire gut lining. Vitamin A cannot be synthesized by the human body and must be absorbed by the intestine from the diet. Lovely levels of Vitamin A will be found in dark green fruit/veg and orange fruit/veg. Liver, eggs, milk and oils are also high in Vitamin A.

      Moving on, Vitamin C is one of the best immune-boosting vitamins out there! Vitamin C is essential for many functions in the body such as the growth and repair of connective tissue, healing of wounds, immune-functioning and cellular defense. Vitamin C helps to stimulate both the production and function of white blood cells and antibodies so that our bodies can have a healthy immune system response.

      Getting a daily dose of Vitamin C is super important because your body doesn't produce or store it. Before you rush off to purchase any Vitamin C supplement, it's not recommended to use pure Vitamin C as this form is very acidic and breaks down after only a few hours, while increased doses can also cause stomach upsets. 

      Solgar Ester-C is a longer-lasting, high quality form of buffered Vitamin C that’s non-acidic, so it’s gentler on sensitive stomachs. Ester-C is also easily absorbed by the system and can stay in the body for up to 24 hours for maximum absorption. Experts differ on how much daily Vitamin C we should be taking, but many recommend an extra dose at the start of a cold or flu, along with a dose of zinc (see Solgar Chelated Zinc)! This combination can stop viral infections in their tracks!

      3. Sleep

      Lack of sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, decreased job/school performance, hypertension, heart issues, obesity, decreased quality of life, and many other health issues! The right amount of sleep is just as important as getting enough nutrients and exercising because it can have a major effect on risk factors. Read more about the importance of sleep and sleeping patterns here.

      Serenite Plus is a combination herbal/homeopathic formula especially formulated to treat the symptoms of insomnia, especially sleep onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) and occasional insomnia (i.e. difficulty falling asleep not more than two or three times a week).

      4. Exercise

      Moving into the cooler months, it may get harder to find the motivation to keep up with your fitness routine - when the temperature begins to drop outside, the last thing on your mind is exercise! Getting yourself into the gym or heading out for a run on cold dark mornings and evenings takes a lot more motivation than it might do in the warmer months - possibly because you would rather cuddle up on the couch or sit around a fire eating comfort foods!

      During the cold months, the average person will increase their body weight between 2-4 kgs of body fat, but the concern of inactivity spreads further than just your weight. Lack of physical activity can lead to heart disease, weight-gain, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and a weakened immune system. Regular physical activity strengthens your immune system significantly and helps your body fight off infections and viruses. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity for three days a week. 

      Tips to help you stay active in the cold: If you exercise outdoors especially, then you should invest in some good quality winter activewear. You could also focus more on indoor exercise like yoga, dancing, going to the gym, and even spring cleaning your home! There are many ways to stay active during the cooler months. Online exercise classes make it even easier to get your daily Covid-safe ration of exercise, without going out.

      5. Herbal Help

      There are many herbs that can help to strengthen your immune system and fight against any viruses that may take up residence in your body despite your best efforts! These may be taken as a tea, or in tincture or capsule form. Our best picks are Immunity Plus, KiddieBoost (for children under 12), Sutherlandia and Artemisia. Using herbal remedies can also help to avoid antibiotics, which can upset the balance of your body and weaken your immune system in the long run!

      6. Allergies

      Mould, dust and fallen pollen are all culprits of change of season sniffles and wheezes. People with seasonal allergies may notice their allergy symptoms acting up in autumn as the wind, dust, pollen and other allergens easily find their way into the respiratory system.

      AllergiClear is a compound remedy containing herbal, homeopathic, tissue salt and nutritional ingredients known for their positive effect on preventing the allergic reactions to various allergens and improving respiratory and immune system health. Taken regularly, before and during the allergy season, or when exposed to known allergens, AllergiClear can help you to become allergy-free and reduce or even eliminate your dependence on synthetic antihistamines with their troublesome side effects.

      While AllergiClear acts as a preventative and reduces the allergic response, SOS-HistaDrops is a herbal and homeopathic formulation which helps to treat acute allergy symptoms like watering, itchy eyes and noses, congestion and sneezing!

      All in all, just a little bit of knowledge and attention to your diet, exercise routines and sleep patterns can make all the difference in keeping seasonal viruses at bay! Remember, your health is in YOUR hands!

      If you have any health questions, please contact our team for FREE advice, or leave a comment below. We always love hearing from you!

      Saskia Michele natural holistic pet health blog

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