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During the Fall, Winter and even Spring months, our Immune Systems can need extra love to support us in the best way. We’ve compiled a short list of 5 things you can do to make sure you Immune System is ready to protect you through any season.
1) Go for fiber
Most people only get about half of their daily requirement (15 grams), but the American Heart Association recommends you get between 25 and 30 grams of fiber each day.
Fiber can help ensure good bowel movements and is great for your heart, but it also excels at supporting your immune system.
Start by ditching as much sugar and non-vegetable/fruit carbs as possible. Sugar suppresses your immune system.
So replace your sugar intake with fiber. It may be as simple as swapping ingredients in a dish. For example, adding berries can satisfy your sweet tooth and give you much needed fiber.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. While you need both of them, soluble fiber is the one that can help strengthen your immune system. The best sources of this type of fiber are:
- Black beans
- Lima beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
2) Give your gut some help
Science has shown us that we may not be as in control of our cravings as we think.
The cravings depend on what’s currently occupying your gut. Since bad bacteria like sugar, they order Oreos. Probiotics will tell your waiter they want apples.
Taking a high quality probiotic supplement can help kick bad bacteria out of your gut and make your eating choices a bit easier. The bacteria that wins is the one you feed—even if you’re constantly taking probiotics.
Probiotics are also believed to modulate your immune system. But before you go grabbing any probiotic off the shelf, there are a few things you need to know.
- Kimchi, fermented vegetables, and natto are the best ways to get probiotics.
- If you must take a supplement, value the number of strains more than the amount of CFUs (colony forming units).
- Get strains with high survival rates. Spore-forming probiotics like Bacillus coagulans have a high success rate of surviving your stomach acid.
3) Time to get vitamin D—indoors
Depending on the time of year, days are longer or shorter. As days get shorter, the angle of the sun changes and your ability to get vitamin D outside diminishes.
During the months with shorter days, shift your focus on ways to get vitamin D indoors. Please note the 3 in D3. Vitamin D2 does exist and it’s not nearly as beneficial. It’s commonly found in mushrooms and lichen.
The best sources of vitamin D3 are fatty fish (cod, for example), egg yolks, liver, and, believe it or not, butter.
4) Hit the hay
Sleep might feel like it’s the last thing in the world you can make time for.
***Of all the immune system tips, sleep is the most important***
Sleep takes a multi-faceted approach to your immune system.
Regulates your mood – Chronic sleep deprivation can cause you to be crabby (even one night can!). Not only will you not be popular in the office due to your bristly nature, people might start avoiding you for fear of getting sick.
Rejuvenates – Sleep is your repair phase. Your immune system is a significant part of this process. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system has to figure out how to split its time between monitoring your health and repairing tissues.
Adequate sleep (7-9 hours) also boosts immune cells that can keep you healthy. More sleep isn’t always better, so consider 9 hours to be the max.
5) Better get beta glucans
Beta glucans are immunomodulators. In simple terms, they stimulate your immune system. Beta glucans work by strengthening the function of key immune cells naturally.
You can find beta glucans in mushrooms—which is part of the reason why they’re so beneficial. But baker’s yeast is a much better source.
Baker’s yeast provides a more consistent experience than mushrooms because the latter has far too many variables affecting it: substrate (what it grows on), how the beta glucans are extracted, and even the type of mushroom.
If you do opt for mushrooms, reishi, shiitake, and maitake are your best options.
Immune health support is essential in the Fall—or any other season!
Diet and exercise aren’t mentioned on this list, but they can go a long way in keeping you healthy.
Both are tricky because of the time they take and the small amount of time you have. A crockpot set on low can make healthy dinners while you’re at work. Exercising in the morning can prevent other priorities from making you skip the gym. It does require commitment, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you haven’t written them down already, here’s a summary of 5 key ways to stay healthy.
- Eat fiber – 25-30 grams each day should be your goal
- Get probiotics – If not from food, find probiotics with a high survival rate and multiple strains
- Take vitamin D – 1,000 – 4,000 IU per day is recommended
- Sleep! – Prioritize sleep. You need 7-9 hours for a healthy immune system.
- Try beta-glucans – Baker’s yeast provides a better option than mushrooms
Now that you’ve got the tools to make sure your Immune System is fully charged, go enjoy this lovely season!