The real cold is about to arrive, and with it, the flu, other viruses, and common colds that can make us have a few bad days. With simple habits, we can boost our immune system and ensure that our defenses are strong this winter.
A good self-care and nutrition plan is the best insurance against any illness, starting with the most common ones, such as the flu and colds. A healthy body will activate its immune system against the attack of pathogens. However, various factors, both endogenous and exogenous, can contribute to weakening it.
Self-care guide to avoid getting sick
• Naturally incorporate vitamin C and D: Our diet should be varied, with all kinds of fruits and vegetables, especially those containing vitamin C, a nutrient closely linked to the body’s defenses. Scientific literature highlights that this vitamin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions that could influence the immune system. Additionally, minerals like zinc or iron are essential for a body prepared to face pathogens.
• Go outside: Cold weather doesn’t mean our lives should be more sedentary or that we have to go out less. While we may not enjoy drinks on a terrace at night, we should walk daily. Winter blues are known to be related to shorter days and lack of exposure to sunlight, essential for synthesizing vitamin D and generating serotonin.
• Exercise: It’s always essential to stay active and exercise, but doing it outdoors in cold weather will help burn more calories, as the body works harder to regulate its core temperature.
• Good hygiene practices: It’s not just about washing hands frequently but should also extend to other parts of the body that are entry points for pathogens, such as the mouth and nose. Proper dental hygiene with mouthwash and washing our nasal passages with saline solution at least once a day can be good tools to avoid getting sick.
• Ventilate your living spaces: Try to keep those places you frequent the most, like your home and workspace, as well-ventilated as possible, especially if you are with other people.
• Eliminate or minimize tobacco and alcohol: Avoid or reduce their consumption as much as possible. These substances weaken the immune system, lower defenses, and are quite harmful to overall health.
Foods to include in your winter diet
In addition to the mentioned vitamins C and D, there are other foods that are especially recommended during this time of year:
• Garlic: Good for strengthening the immune system due to its significant concentration of allicin and other nutritious compounds.
• Fermented dairy such as natural yogurt or kefir: Rich in beneficial probiotic bacteria for the gut, which studies indicate have a positive effect on regulating the immune response.
• Fatty fish: Rich in omega-3, a type of fat that the body uses to regulate inflammatory processes.
• Red fruits and vegetables: Rich in carotenoids and vitamin A, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
• Citrus fruits: Key for fighting infections due to their vitamin C content, which protects mucous membranes, strengthens the immune system, and helps prevent and recover from colds.
• Sweet potatoes: Provide vitamin A, good for skin health, and contain a good amount of fiber.
• Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage: Provide numerous minerals and vitamins, including A, C, and E, as well as antioxidants and fiber.
• Mushrooms: Rich in polysaccharides, selenium, and B vitamins, responsible for increasing defenses.
• Shellfish and seafood: Contain zinc and iron, essential for the proper functioning of immune-regulating cells.
• Spinach: Boosts the immune system’s ability to fight infections and supports cell division and DNA repair due to its antioxidant and beta-carotene content.
• Ginger: Excellent for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, thanks to gingerol, its main bioactive component.
• Honey: Contains a variety of antioxidants and is used traditionally to alleviate throat irritation and cough in people with upper respiratory infections. It is associated with antiseptic and bactericidal properties but should be consumed in moderation due to its glycemic load.
When temperatures drop, you need to bundle up on the outside, but also on the inside. So, in addition to taking care of your diet and not skipping exercise, also indulge in the pleasure of resting at home. Yes, it sounds typical, but a warm sofa, a drink, and staying warm are still the foolproof recipe for pampering ourselves and preventing colds.