It’s cold, wet and miserable outside. The fire place is roaring. You haven’t seen the sun for a few weeks. You try and find the gloves and scarves you put in the box that lives in the bottom of the wardrobe. Yep, you have guessed it, its winter time! The season where runny noses, coughs and sneezes seem to be everywhere you go.

A question I get asked frequently this time of the year is, “What can my family do to boost our immune system and prevent getting sick this winter?”

Well, here are a few flu-busting suggestions to help you thrive this winter.

1. Keep your nervous system in top shape – We’ve known for a long time now that our nervous system is vitally linked with the function of our immune system.  Chiropractic adjustments improve nervous system function.  Several studies from Australia and around the world have demonstrated improved immune system function in people receiving chiropractic care. For more information in the relationship between chiropractic and the immune system, I will be posting another blog shortly so stay tuned.

2. Cut out the sugar! – You’ve probably heard that Vitamin C helps boost your immune system.  But did you know that sugar and vitamin C are so similar in structure that they actually compete for the very space in our cells where Vitamin C should go.  This means that if your diet is high in sugar (including carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice) , but you are  taking vitamin C to boost your immune system , then the vitamin C really isn’t getting the chance to do its job effectively. Sugar intake significantly limits your immune system response, so get off it.

3. Rug up! – I know it sounds so logical, but dress for the weather. So many people want to hold on to the glorious weather of our summer and will refuse to ditch the flip-flops for a pair of good shoes and warm socks.  But keeping your body warm by dressing in appropriate clothes means that you don’t have to shift energy away from your immune system to heat yourself up on cold day.

4. Exercise regularly – Studies have found that recreational exercisers reported fewer colds once they began running regularly. Moderate exercise has been linked to a positive immune system response and a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria. It is believed that regular, consistent exercise can lead to substantial benefits in immune system health over the long-term.

5. Eat loads of fruit and veggies– Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; don’t overcook or boil. For example;
Beta-carotene and other carotenoid rich foods: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
Vitamin C rich foods: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes
Vitamin E rich foods: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds

6. Consider a vitamin D supplement – Vitamin D is an important immune system booster.  Twenty minutes of full-body exposure to summer sun generates about 20,000 units of vitamin D over the next couple of days. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s not a lot of summer sun to be found around here at the moment. That is why almost one-third of adults over the age of 25 have a Vitamin D deficiency, a new study evaluating the Vitamin D status of Australian adults has found. A good quality vitamin D supplement such as Metagenics can help.  Talk to your chiropractor about it.

But if all of that isn’t enough and you do come down with a cold, then rest up, drink lots of water and make sure to come in for an adjustment.  When your body is challenged, that’s not the time to subtract adjustments; it’s the time to ADD them!