Seven Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

Ward off those winter colds!

Robert Kneschke/

The leaves are changing, weather is cooling down, and we’re wearing more layers of clothing. Winter is coming. This is the time of year where we find ourselves sipping on hot tea and stocking tissues everywhere as we bring home those wonderful winter viruses! You can prepare and strengthen your family's immune system to ward off any unwelcome friends. Here are 7 ways to make sure your immune system is ready for winter:

1. Sugar

This sneaky ingredient can be found everywhere, especially after Halloween and other holiday feasting! When we eat too much of this ingredient it can prevent the immune system from fighting and fending off bacteria and viruses. While there are over 50 forms of sugar found on our grocery shelves, not all forms are bad. Continue to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, as they contain essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.

2. Probiotics

Over 75% of our immune system is located in our gut! That means that everything we eat can affect on our immunity - for better or worse! Probiotics are great for our gut, and help reestablish a healthy microbiome with good bacteria. Speak with your naturopathic doctor to find the right strain and product for you and your child.

3. Astragalus

For thousands of years, this herb has been used to help strengthen the body from disease. Astragalus is one herb that helps to protect and support the immune system. Talk to your naturopathic doctor to determine if astragalus and other herbs are right for your daily routine, and what is the appropriate product and dose.

4. Vitamin C

Found in citrus fruits, peppers and even broccoli, this natural antioxidant helps our white blood cells (soldiers of the immune system) fight off bacteria and viruses. In fact, if we become deficient in vitamin C, it can actually make us more susceptible to colds and flus.

5. Vitamin D

As the days get shorter and cooler, it becomes more difficult to get enough vitamin D as our primary source is the sun. This sunshine vitamin helps our immune system function at it’s best.

6. Handwashing

A great way to prevent a cold or flu is to wash your hands! Germs can find their way on many surfaces and live there. Most of us are cooped up indoors now (work, daycare, home) and are more prone to touching germ-laden surfaces and then our nose or mouths. Teach your children a proper handwashing technique of wetting hands, lathering with triclosan-free soap for 20 seconds and rinsing under warm water.

7. Sleep

A consistent sleep routine is key for good health and immunity, so it’s important that you or your child put that tablet away before bed. School-aged children should be getting about 9-12 hours of sleep per night, while adults should aim for 7-8 hours. Sleep hygiene is important, so ensure the room is cool, dark, and quiet.

Best wishes on keeping the troops happy and healthy

*Originally published October 27, 2016