The winter months are long and dreary, but spring is almost here. With all of the illnesses going around, here are a few simple, effective steps you can take to support your immune system and guard against any sniffles or coughs.

Cold and flu cases tend to occur during the cooler months because we spend more time indoors, in close quarters, with other people carrying viruses, and often, in poorly ventilated rooms where colds spread fast.

1) When your body is under attack, one of the very best things you can do for the health of your immune system is to get plenty of sleep. The time you spend sleeping allows your body to rest and repair itself from the damages of the day. Sleep not only improves your mental state, but it gives your body the best opportunity to fight off an illness. An average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night.

2) Drink plenty of liquids. The general rule of, “Drink 8-10, 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” can generally be followed, but consumption can vary, depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status and several other factors. Liquid consumption has many benefits such as flushing toxins out of vital organs, carrying nutrients to your cells, and providing a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

3) Watch the sugar! Sugar, even if derived from natural sources like fruit juice  can impair/suppress immune function. Healthier sweeteners such as honey, agave or stevia can be used in moderation, but avoid artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Equal because they are even more toxic than cane sugar.

4) Several supplements provide immune support including vitamin D3, probiotics and vitamin C.  Vitamin D is a major contributor to immune system strength. And as you may know, the best source of vitamin D is the sun, which is why many people tend to suffer from lower levels of this essential nutrient during the winter months. Other ways to boost your vitamin D levels can be found in egg yolks, wild caught salmon and organ meats.

5) Try to get regular, moderate exercise, like a daily 30-minute walk. It can help your immune system fight infection. Exercise can also boost your body’s feel-good chemicals and help you sleep better. Both of those are good for your immune system. Though regular exercise can boost your immune system, during a cold or flu it may be wise to skip your usual workout or exercise program.

If you should happen to catch a cold, herbs such as Echinacea, elderberry and lemon balm or foods such as garlic, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar can help to boost your body’s self-healing abilities. Essential oils are also beneficial.

Middle Tennessee Chiropractic and Sports Injury utilizes chiropractic care, nutrition and functional rehabilitation exercises to help patients conquer pain and enjoy healthier lives.

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