Throughout November and December, everywhere you turn there seems to be people coughing, sneezing and blowing their noses. The natural reaction is to put as much distance between you and the person with the “germs”. That’s not always possible though. Sometimes it’s a coworker sitting next to you or a child or significant other who needs a little TLC. Chances are, no matter what you do you will be exposed to several different colds and viruses throughout the season. When the immune system takes a hit and you feel the symptoms, it’s easy to start the finger-pointing. You can spend all day with a full investigation of who patient zero was, but the truth of the matter is: it could have been anyone… it could have been you!
So why is this? Why does it seem a little more difficult to fight off these pesky colds during the late fall and winter months? It all has to do with your immune system.
As the weather gets colder and a little nasty, we tend to spend more time inside. Why does this matter? It means you are getting less fresh air, less time in nature, and most of all, less vitamin D, an essential vitamin that strengthens your immune system. You are not the only one who has hunkered down for the winter though, your co-workers and housemates are likely doing the same. With everyone inside and in close quarters, the spread of germs happens a lot quicker, often making the spaces that you spend the most time in feel like Petri dishes.
The weather isn’t the only thing that weighs on the immune system this time of year, as the holidays roll in, so do comfort food cravings. One splash of your favorite holiday flavored coffee creamer certainly doesn’t hurt. However, that is typically not the case. That splash turns into a few more and is typically accompanied by the homemade fudge and cookies that are lingering. How exactly do these tasty treats impact your immune system? It all comes down to the gut microbiome.
The gut microbiome is composed of over 1,000 species of the tens of trillions of small organisms (bacteria and other microscopic living things). These handy helpers play an important role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall health. The truth is, too much junk food can kill some of your gut microbes which can leave you feeling sluggish and a little ill.
Now, all of these factors will not hurt you in moderation, but as you move further and further into the winter months, it begins to build up. This build-up is the reason behind your immune system becoming so susceptible to many different infections and illnesses.
So, what can you do? Take action to strengthen and support your immune system now to avoid this build-up.The question is, where do you start?
A healthy immune system is a product of a healthy diet and lifestyle, but true wellness goes a little deeper than this. The truth is, 70% of your immune system lies in your gastrointestinal system. Why might this be? Because this part of your body is on the frontline of fighting the dangerous pathogens that enter your body. To fight these pathogens and to sustain health throughout the winter, you must support the flora and good bacteria housed in your GI tract.
How do you do this? Here are a few tips:
- Practice moderation: By all means, enjoy some of your favorite holiday dishes and desserts but be sure to keep moderation in mind.
- Eat fermented foods: Add some kefir, yogurt or raw sauerkraut to your diet. Many fermented foods contain healthy bacteria and they can help reduce harmful bacteria in the gut.
- Eat foods rich in prebiotics: Load up on foods rich in prebiotics, the fiber that helps in the growth of healthy bacteria. Foods that contain prebiotics include bananas, oats, and apples.
- Take probiotic supplements: Probiotics are a necessity in our microbiome, but the natural sources of them often don’t supply enough. The scientists at New Earth have studied these gut-healthy friends for many years and have created a way to harness their power. Supplements such as Spectrabiotic® contain the live bacteria that can help restore your gut to a healthy state. Probiotic supplements do this by reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria.
Following healthy practices such as these can help you to feel and do your best during the winter months. Enjoy the cool holiday season and all that it brings while keeping your gut microbiome healthy and your immune system strong!