During the winter months, many suffer from colds, flus and other ailments. For some people, it may seem that one sickness is followed by another until we reach spring. However, others escape most winter seasons without any infections or complaints. Why is there is such a significant difference in the frequency people get ill?
Many people are surprised to hear that there is a direct connection between the function of the nervous system and the immune system. Your nerves innervate (control) the immune organs. Also, the nervous system controls the release of hormones that affect our ability to fight off infections. Clients in our office are generally familiar with how powerful a well-functioning, healthy immune system can be. Clients often come in to get their spine and nervous system checked at the first onset of a cold. We know that a nervous system functioning at optimum helps us defend our body from germs and fight infection.
Of course, there are several other ways we can positively impact our immune system function as well. Below are several ways you can improve your immune system:
- Get regular cardiovascular exercise at least three days a week.
- Avoiding a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates. Rather focus on a diet high in lean protein.
- Avoid drinking significant amounts of alcohol (more than two drinks per day).
- Try get 7-8 hours of solid sleep per night
- Find methods to deal with stress in your life. Meditation, yoga, reading and exercise are a few common methods that many people use to manage their stress level.
- Talk to your physician about vitamin D supplements. The body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. In many areas of the United States, sun exposure drastically decreases in the winter months. Consequently, our levels of Vitamin D decline as well. Maintaining normal vitamin D levels during the winter months can also help prevent the winter blues.
- Increase your intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetable such as brussel sprouts, dark greens and berries. Try to get at least 3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Also, consider taking vitamin C supplements. Research shows that the introduction of vitamin C at the early stages of a cold can decrease its length.
- Promote healthy bacteria in your gut. Most of our immune system resides in our gut. Healthy bacteria are imperative to maintain a health GI tract. Increase the intake of foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha.
- Lastly, get your nervous system checked by a chiropractor!
Always consult your primary physician before introducing any vitamins or supplements. Stay healthy this winter!