During the winter months in Canada, many people are experiencing common illnesses like colds and flus. This is especially true after the holidays when we have been gathering with friends and family. For some, it can also be a stressful time of year and so it is vitally important to everything you can to boost your immune system so that you can avoid being sick, or at least significantly reduce the chances of falling ill.
What can I do to support my immune system?
Vitamin D: The first and most important thing you can do to boost your immune system and protect against illness is take Vitamin D daily. Vitamin D is very important for many functions and throughout the winter, especially in Canada, we are not exposed to the sun very much. In order to get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun, you need to expose large parts of your body to the sun for extended periods of time, so even during the summer, not everyone is getting enough vitamin D. The good news is that getting vitamin D is easy. Simply take at least 1000 IU daily of vitamin D. If you buy the drops, this amounts to one drop per day. If you have been around people who are sick or are feeling you might be getting sick, you can increase this to 5 drops (5000 IU) per day for 3-4 days.
Bundle Up: Another way to keep your immune system healthy is to bundle up when going out in the cold. The cold weather itself does not cause sickness but it does reduce our immune system's ability to fight off viruses. Our immune system functions best at higher temperatures, which is why we spike fevers. Our body is trying to fight the infection, so it increases our internal temperature (fever) so that it can attack the infection more effectively and efficiently. Make sure you keep a hat on your head and protect your neck and chest from the cold so that your body's internal temperature does not fall.
Prioritize sleep: Getting plenty of sleep is also an important part of keeping our immune system functioning optimally. Our body heals and restores itself during sleep, so if we are sleep deprived, we are more prone to getting sick. In order to get good rest, our room should be dark, and all devices such as phones and tablets should be removed from the room or put on "airplane mode. It is also a good idea to stop using these devices right before bed. Instead, try reading a book or other activity that does not involve screen time. This can make a dramatic impact on sleep quality.
Our immune systems need continual support to stay strong and fight off viruses during the winter months. Implementing the things we have discussed in this article will help, but remember, that despite our best efforts we can still get ill. However, if you stay diligent with protecting and boosting your immune system, then if you do get sick, it should be short lived.
If you have concerns about your immune system and want to seek out ways to naturally support it, reach out and schedule a free consultation with any of our health care providers.
Dr. Spenser Dougley DC, FR, FRCms