That’s right, it’s coming – and for some parts of the country, it’s already here: cold and flu season. One good cold can REALLY set you back in school, at work, whatever. And who needs that? Prevention is key, and just a few simple changes can have a big impact on how well your immune system is working:

Sleep: Whether it’s quality or quantity, getting enough sleep is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT part of making sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. Without sleep, inflammation in the body increases and our ability to manage the inflammation and fight off infection is reduced. Try to keep as consistent a sleep schedule as possible and make sure you eat protein at every meal (including breakfast!) to get higher quality sleep.

Stay Positive: Numerous studies show the link between a positive outlook on life and increased immunity. Positive thoughts and laughter actually increase the function of two powerful immune components, which means the body’s ability to fight off offending bacteria and viruses increases. So the next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, make the best out of it, laugh it off if you can, and tell yourself “job well done” when you end up in April without a single cold.

Plan Ahead: One of the biggest causes of consistent stress is TIME. Or the lack of it. Most people feel like they don’t have enough time to do what they need to at LEAST daily. That’s right: Every. Single. Day. People who manage stress well tackle this issue by generally planning out their week and then planning each day the night before. That way, you know exactly what needs to be done short term AND long term, without the constant stream of to-dos running through your head. Don’t forget to plan some time for relaxation!

Eat Green Things: Green vegetables contain incredibly high concentrations of the nutrients needed to support the immune system, like Vitamins A, C, E and the minerals Selenium and Zinc. Some good options: spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, cabbage. Pumpkin seeds, salmon and sweet potatoes are also good staples.

Stay Hydrated: Water, among other things, is needed for healthy digestive and lymphatic systems. We need water to properly digest food, and to make sure that food makes it from the blood stream into our cells. Lymph, which carries white blood cells through the body, requires water to be produced. Drinking herbal teas, like dandelion, Echinacea and ginger, will keep you hydrated while also bringing additional immune boosting benefits.

Sometimes there’s a bigger issue going on. If you find yourself catching every cold, it may be time to check your thyroid.  Otherwise, remember that you are a priority and for the most part you’re the only person who can take care of you.

Take one of these tips and implement it full force. Make it a habit, then move on to the next one. Slow, steady, sustainable changes are the best way to impact your health. You know where you are in your health journey and how much you can handle. Use the information here in a way that is best for YOU! And, as always, take what you want and leave the rest.

Shane

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