The GNC Learning Center
THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, FOCUS ON YOUR IMMUNE HEALTH
Don’t wait for a runny nose to start paying attention to your immune health! Here are some easy ways to stay healthy during the coldest time of the year.
EAT A NUTRIENT-RICH DIET
A nourishing diet that includes a combination of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fats is critical for supporting your immune system. Each type of food plays a role in keeping your immune system in check.
Fruits and vegetables like green peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and leafy greens are all great sources of vitamin C. Zinc can be found in protein-rich foods like meat, poultry and seafood, as well as whole-grains. Though very few foods have vitamin D naturally, fortified foods such as milk, some fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna can help you reach the recommended intake.
Foods with lots of protein are especially important since they are comprised of amino acids. One particular amino acid, glutamine, plays an especially big role in fueling the immune system. Since it can be depleted with exercise, it’s important to replenish it regularly through your diet.
GET ADEQUATE SLEEP
Did you know sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, potentially upping your chances of catching the latest virus making the rounds? That’s why you need an adequate amount of sleep nightly to help your immune system stay on point. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day and sleeping in an environment that is as quiet, cool and dark as possible can help you maintain a consistent and healthy sleep schedule.
Getting enough exercise is also key to getting a good night’s sleep. It can be tough to find the motivation to stay active even when you’re feeling healthy—so it’s going to be that much harder when a cough or sore throat makes an appearance. Getting plenty of rest can help you stay energized and motivated to staying active—which in turn will help you get a better night’s rest.
Another unexpected factor in your quality of rest is eating a large meal just before turning in for the night. When you do that, it forces your body to work on digesting food and can disrupt your sleep! Try not to eat too much too close to bedtime so your body can focus on getting productive sleep.
Don’t forget about caffeine either. If you drink a lot of coffee, tea, or take any fitness supplements that contain caffeine, try to avoid doing so within six hours of bedtime. Studies have shown that consuming caffeine in that time window can reduce your total sleep by as much as an hour!
We know life can make it hard to eat right, exercise and sleep enough all the time. That’s where supplements come in. They can make it easy to get the nutrients a healthy immune system needs, especially if your diet isn’t 100% up to par. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and the mineral zinc are all sold as individual nutrients and can be found in a variety of forms such as chews, lozenges or capsules. Some herbal supplements, such as echinacea supplement and elderberry supplement, can also offer seasonal antioxidant defense and support for natural resistance.
One last tip: since a healthy gut is at the core of immune health, you should consider incorporating a probiotic supplement into your daily routine. In addition to digestive health, research suggests that some strains of probiotics support immune health. Some probiotics supplements even include other nutrients that your immune system needs all in one formula for extra convenience. And don’t forget that there are herbal extracts that can support immune health, too!
Before the holiday season takes off, remember to make yourself—and your immune health—a priority.