Well, just like that it’s 2024. I love new years because it signifies the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Though i’ve never been one for making specific resolutions (ie. lose 10 pounds or eat healthier), I do love the idea of a fresh start. A clean slate. A time to focus on yourself. For many of us, Winter is a season of bright lights , cozy blankets, hot chocolate, and preparing for holidays. If you’re from an area with lots of snow, you may love the ski season, the pretty white mountain tops, and other fun, winter festivities. Unfortunately, it’s not all jolly. Winter brings with it an increased risk of falling ill and catching all sorts of viruses. In this post-pandemic era, we have learned just how important it is to keep our immune systems strong and healthy, but with viruses like HPV and HSV always being a concern regardless of seasonal changes, it’s essential to bolster your immune system to stay healthy and resilient during these colder months where we are even more likely to experience flare ups of these infections. Luckily, there are plenty of natural ways to support your immune system and enhance your overall well-being. Here are some tips to keep your immune system in top shape this winter:
1. Prioritize a Balanced Diet
Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet is the foundation of a strong immune system. Focus on incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your meals. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune function. As a general recommendation for supporting overall health and optimal immunity, we recommend eating similar to a mediterranean style of eating – which you can read more about here. Additionally, a focus on antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods is advised.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Engaging in regular physical activity not only keeps your body in shape but also boosts your immune system. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Activities like walking, jogging, yoga, or dancing can enhance your immune response and reduce stress. There is no right or wrong kind of exercise, so feel free to explore what kind of movement feels best in your body.
3. Get Quality Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for a robust immune system. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and create a comfortable sleep environment to ensure you get the rest your body needs. If you struggle with sleep, we suggest improving sleep hygiene practices like limiting phone use before bed, only using your bedroom for sleep and intimacy and lastly, keeping your room at a cool temperature. Additionally, you can talk to your doctor about supplementation with herbs like passionflower and/or valerian to help with sleep quality and length
4. Manage Stress
Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or hobbies you enjoy. Taking time for yourself and finding ways to relax can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. Additionally herbs like ashwagandha have been shown to reduce levels of perceived stress. This can be incredibly important for building a strong and resilient immune system.
5. Boost Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in immune function. During the winter months, when sunlight exposure is limited, consider taking a vitamin D supplement after consulting with your healthcare provider. Additionally, include vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and mushrooms in your diet.
6. Herbal Support
Certain herbs and supplements have been traditionally used to support the immune system. Echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, and garlic are known for their immune-boosting properties. Consult a healthcare professional before incorporating any supplements into your routine, especially if you have existing health conditions or take medications.
Additionally, many herbs have been shown to support the body in fighting HSV and HPV. Here’s just a few we use in Simplix® and in Papillex®.
Key ingredients in Simplix that help the body respond to cold sores and herpes (HSV) include: sulphated polysaccarides, various medicinal mushrooms including shiitake and agaricus blazei, melissa officinalis, vitamin C, B12 and zinc, to name a few.
Key ingredients in Papillex® that help the body respond to HPV include: lycopene and carotenoids, broccoli sprout extract, folate, vitamin C, E and selenium, to name a few.
7. Practice Good Hygiene
Prevent the spread of viruses by practicing good hygiene habits. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid close contact with sick individuals, and maintain cleanliness in your surroundings. These simple practices can significantly reduce your risk of infections. Additonally, if you or someone you know has cold sores, avoid sharing lip balms, and other objects that make contact with this area. For genital herpes or HPV, be careful with intercourse during active flare ups, and use protection (even though this does not completely protect you against the spread of infection).
By incorporating these natural strategies into your daily routine, you can strengthen your immune system and support optimal immunity this winter. Remember that consistency is key, so make these habits a part of your lifestyle to enjoy long-term health benefits. Stay warm, stay healthy, and embrace the winter season with a resilient immune system!