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Although we don’t hear or even think about it much, there is in fact such a thing as seasonal immunity-boosting strategies.
You may have realized that you tend to get sicker during certain seasons than others. There’s a reason this happens, and it has to do with your immune system.
When the seasons change, so does your immune system response. The good news is just as your body becomes more vulnerable to germs during certain seasons, it can also be bolstered in different ways during different seasons.
Many people don’t have a specific strategy to boost their seasonal immunity. They merely adopt a regimen of vitamins and everyday healthy lifestyle habits that they feel will keep them from getting sick. This may work in some instances but not all the time.
If you want to maximize your ability to ward off illness any time of the year, you must target season-specific changes to your routine. Implementing strategies that are specific to that particular season is the single best way to help your body fight off infection year-round.
Your Immune System Changes with the Seasons
You may have heard people talking about how they have more body aches and health issues when the winter chill sets in. Or you may have experienced this yourself. This is because certain health problems, such as arthritis, act up more in the winter months than in the warmer spring or summer months.
The reason this happens is that when the seasons change, your immune system does too. This happens at a cellular level and can be particularly hard on certain diseases that are autoimmune in nature.
Even someone who has no current health problems can find themselves struggling during seasonal changes. That’s because the parts that make up the immune system are busier at different degrees when it’s the summer months versus when the season changes to winter.
In the summer, these parts of the immune system work more aggressively and function more efficiently. This high activity level helps them squash reactive symptoms that stem from conditions such as arthritis as well as health issues such as the common cold.
However, when winter hits, the immune system doesn’t work as aggressively, making it so much easier for inflammation to hit and get the upper hand. This is why you’re likely to get ill in the wintertime. You can easily end up with cold or flu symptoms or catch whatever is going around at that time.
Your immune system will react to the changes in the season – specifically to the longer days you get in the summer over the darker, drearier days in winter. All of this is tied in with your body’s natural clock.
Understanding The Immune System
Your immune system is made up of five basic parts and then several smaller ones. One part comprises of the lymph nodes. These work like a strainer. It’s their job to catch germs that are trying to allow an illness to hit you. They’re supposed to trap these germs within the system. Once they do that, they then prod the white blood cells to go to battle against those germs. This battle can cause your lymph nodes to swell during times of inflammation or illness.
The second part of your immune system is your white blood cells. These work to find and kill off the germs that invade your body to make you ill. If you have a blood test that shows your white blood cell count is high, it means your body is trying to fight off some sort of infection.
The tonsils are the third part of your immune system. These act as gatekeepers in your throat to keep germs from causing you to get sick. As soon as they trap a virus, the tonsils immediately get to work to make antibodies that will work against that virus.
The fourth part of your immune system is the spleen. This is the housing unit for your white blood cells and it also acts as a clearinghouse for your blood. The fifth part that works to keep you healthy is your bone marrow.
Your bone marrow’s main job is to create red and white blood cells and keep them circulating in your body to work to prevent illness. All of these systems work together to form your overall immune health – but you have to play your part in allowing them to work efficiently, too.
Seasonal Immunity Boosting Strategies That Work
Stock Up on UV Rays Whenever Possible
The changes that happen in your immune system in the seasons have a lot to do with how many UV rays you’re exposed to.
In the summertime, it’s a lot easier to get access to UV light. This is another reason why illness is less prevalent. When the days are warm and the weather is good, you’ll find more people outside. They’ll work out in the yard, and engage in outdoor activities like swimming.
More time is spent outdoor than indoors during summer, which is a fantastic natural immunity-boosting strategy. Exposure to UV light works to help boost the body’s production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is what works to aid the body in being able to process other helpful nutrients and vitamins.
Plus, it works as a warning to the body’s immune system when there’s an infection or viral invader. Sunlight boosts your T cells through your vitamin D. This is why your immune system is stronger in the summer months.
When winter hits most people want to stay inside where it’s warm. The overcast skies and chilly weather just don’t have the same pull that the warm, sunny days have. But that’s exactly what the body needs – to be soaking up the sun.
One way to make sure you get adequate UV exposure all year round is by planning outdoor activities regardless of the season. Even if the temperatures are cold, being outside for just ten minutes can give your immune system the exposure it needs to sunlight.
What you should know is that the sun doesn’t even have to be shining for you to get access to the UV rays. You get enough UV exposure outdoors even on a cloudy day provided that you go outdoors during the daytime. Engaging in outdoor winter activities such as sledding, ice skating, hiking, going for a walk, or even just playing a game in your backyard can help.
Read: 9 Powerful Health Benefits of Sunlight
Use A Light Therapy Lamp If Necessary When The Days Get Shorter
If you don’t have easy access to the outdoors to get the UV rays you need, there are specialized products that you can use indoors that are very effective. One such example is light therapy lamps.
Light therapy lamps simulate the type of light you can find in the daylight. This helps generate a similar circadian rhythm that our body has during the summer months. This helps in many different ways when you don’t get adequate exposure to natural sunlight. In addition to its seasonal immunity-boosting ability, light therapy lamps also help alleviate the symptoms of SAD.
SAD is short for Seasonal Affective Disorder and it’s something that’s caused due to the seasonal change and lack of light. People who are affected by this find that they have lower energy levels and are more prone to feeling sad or depressed when the fall or winter season starts. Most people who have this disorder experience depression as soon as the seasons begin to change.
The symptoms it brings on can be things such as irritability, not having any energy, trouble focusing, weight gain, insomnia and more. Usually, when the seasons change back to spring and summer, the SAD symptoms go away but do return again with the fall and winter months. This can impact your immune system too.
With the onset of fall, as the days start to get shorter, using a light therapy lamp can be immensely helpful. It will lift you up from the doldrums, improve your mood, and boost energy levels. Most important of all, it will boost your immune system during these particularly vulnerable low-light seasons.
Taking supplements such as vitamin D3 can also help strengthen the immune system in winter the same way the sun’s rays can when it’s summer. You can also use exercise to help combat the lack of sunlight in the fall and winter.
Sleep Changes As A Seasonal Immunity-Boosting Strategy
You may not realize that when seasons change, so does your ability to achieve good sleep. There are physiological changes that take place.
For example, as the days get brighter and longer in spring, this affects the amount of melatonin in your body. Less melatonin means less sleep.
In the spring season, Daylight Savings Time can disrupt your sleep. The changing time can throw off your sleep schedule. You can also have trouble sleeping due to the allergies that this season often ushers in.
In the summer months, the light also causes sleep changes. A lot of people find that they develop insomnia when summer hits. That’s because, just like in spring, your melatonin levels are altered. The amount of melatonin in your body lessens when it’s light out and this is what affects your circadian rhythm.
In the fall and winter, there’s not as much sunlight and people aren’t outdoors as often. This can cause drops in the amount of vitamin D your body has. Once this level drops, the body doesn’t have as much of the neurotransmitter responsible for producing melatonin. If the vitamin D level drops low enough, it can even bring on SAD.
It’s important that you get enough sleep. When you don’t, it impairs your immune system because sleep boosts your T cells. These cells are responsible for fighting against viruses and bacteria that can make you sick. You want to make sure that you get good sleep all year round, regardless of what the season is.
There are ways that you can achieve this goal in order to boost your immune system and stay healthy. You need to find a way to make sure your melatonin levels remain consistent.
One way to achieve this is by blocking out the light in your bedroom. Use light-blocking shades or room darkening curtains.
It’s just as important not to change your sleep schedule with the changing of the seasons. When summer hits, some people change their sleep schedule to match it. They’ll stay up later than they normally have been but this can be disruptive.
Keep your schedule consistent. Get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time. Do what you normally do even when the seasons change. If you’re used to exercising a lot during the summer, but you slack off when the seasons change, that can affect your sleep too.
Keep up the same routine – even if you have to move it indoors. If there’s less sunlight, use a substitute to make sure you get the sunlight you would normally get. You can buy lamps to use for a few minutes each day in your home to help with seasonal immunity boosting.
Eat Strategically During the Seasons to Help Boost Seasonal Immunity
Have you heard that saying – ‘There’s a reason for the seasons’? It means there’s a reason certain foods grow during certain seasons. During their growing season, fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense. Consuming foods when they’re in season ensures that you get the most nutrients from your diet.
Choosing seasonal immunity-boosting foods can be especially beneficial. There are plenty of foods you can find in every season that can boost your immune system. And when your immune system is strong, you’re less likely to get sick, regardless of whatever is going around.
During the fall, you can find an abundance of pumpkins and squash. Both vegetables are loaded with vitamins and are particularly rich in vitamin A. This vitamin is necessary to help with your body’s cellular health – including boosting the cells that form part of your immune system. Pumpkins and squash also contain a B vitamin that can help fight against the winter blues.
Another fruit that you should have plenty of during the fall is apples. Apples contain flavonoids that fight inflammation and boost immune health. Be sure to eat the skin too – they are packed with nutrients.
In the winter, many people stop eating foods that help the immune system and that’s a mistake. The season is notorious for bringing on the colds and the flu so don’t skip this important aspect. It’s more important than ever to include plenty of seasonal immunity-boosting foods during winter.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of fresh produce that you can choose that will help keep you healthy throughout the winter. Eating a diet that’s rich in vitamins is key to boosting your immune system in winter.
One food you must include in your winter diet is kale. Kale is rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that boost immunity. Include spinach and other leafy greens, too. These foods contain plenty of vitamins – including the important vitamin C. These vitamin-rich foods help signal cells in the body that fight against illnesses. Sweet potatoes are a delicious winter produce that also boost the immune system.
Pomegranates are usually harvested in the fall but can be purchased during the winter months. Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants that can help protect you against catching a cold. They work to aid the immune system by causing it to boost the number of antibodies it makes.
In the summer and spring, it’s a little easier to find fresh produce. Loading up on fruits and veggies during these seasons will help keep seasonal illnesses at day. Watermelons are hugely popular during summer and they’re good for your immune system too. This fruit is loaded with lycopene, which works to suppress inflammation, especially the respiratory kind.
Other produce that can help your immune system include cantaloupes, tomatoes, mushrooms (which are known to boost immune health), and carrots. Carrots contain beta carotene, which aids the immune system by trapping bacteria that attempt to enter the body and cause illness.
Eat produce that contains choline, too. Ones like cauliflower and broccoli not only boost cell function, but they’re also rich in antioxidants. These, along with produce like cabbage, can work year-round to help your immune system.
Bell peppers are also on that list of immune-boosting produce you want to consume as well. These are rich in vitamin C and can also help the immune system produce antibodies.
A Season of Stress May Be Damaging Your Ability to Stay Healthy
There’s something besides viruses and bacteria that can weaken your immune system and make it more difficult for you to stay healthy – stress. Every season can be one that brings on a different type of stress.
When the fall season rolls in, it brings with it back to school and the holidays. There’s Thanksgiving and then Christmas. While these can be times of celebration, more often than not, they bring in a lot of stress.
Unmet expectations during holidays can cause stress. Many people have a picture of what they’d like the holiday to be like, but inevitably, it falls short. There can be family strife, relationship issues, or work deadlines that are tighter due to the holidays.
Many people also experience a lot of financial pressure. It can be stressful and expensive to spend the money to travel to be with family during the holidays. On top of that, there are gifts to buy for relatives, friends and coworkers.
The demand on your time increases, too. All of a sudden, the number of commitments you have to deal with can double. It seems that there’s always something to take care of, another store to visit or a purchase to make.
You may start to feel that you’re running yourself ragged. This can easily cause stress and anxiety during the holidays. You want to enjoy them, but you’re too tired physically. If there’s drama or family strife going on, you can also end up worn out emotionally and may find yourself just wishing the holidays were over.
During these winter months with less light, some people are affected with SAD, which can make everything feel even more stressful and depressing. Other seasons bring other challenges.
During the summer when the kids are out of school you have your hands full caring for the kids while also working full or part-time. You may find that you’re having to pay more money for childcare.
You may have the stress of having to take kids to various activities. During the spring when school breaks roll around, you may find yourself also having to come up with childcare solutions or entertainment then, too.
You might also experience having kids underfoot all day when you need to get stuff done, which can be stressful. When you get stressed, your body increases its cortisol production.
Cortisol can weaken the immune system so that when an illness comes along, it’s not well enough to fight it off and you end up getting sick. In order to keep your immune system healthy, you have to find ways to cope during times of high stress.
Learn how to say no to things that would take up too much of your time and lead to stress. That may mean finding someone else to wrap the gifts, or ordering online instead of fighting the shopping crowd in person.
It may mean hiring someone to help with the kids or drive them to their destinations during the summer on some days so that you get a break or aren’t strained for time. Don’t let the holidays or seasonal changes disrupt your routine.
Set a budget and refuse to break it.
Go to bed at the same time as always.
Make sure you exercise.
Setting realistic holiday and summer expectations and boundaries is a crucial seasonal immunity-boosting strategy. Don’t try to take on too much. You can’t do everything, so just select the things that you do enjoy doing with each season and stick to that.
When you do feel stressed, step back and take a break rather than letting it continue to build. Doing this can help ease the stress that affects your immune system. Remember that it’s okay to not take part in situations or activities that stress you.
Seasonal Immunity Boosting Strategies To Implement All Year Round
These are some things you can do to boost your immune system naturally all year round with more focus during fall and winter:
Diffuse immunity-boosting essential oils and blends or these essential oil synergy blends.
Include immunity-boosting foods in your diet.
Change your diet to suit the season. Including seasonal produce during each season ensures that you get the maximum nutrients and immunity-boosting benefits from your diet.
Drink immunity-boosting tea.
Helpful Read: 10 Easy Ways To Boost Immune Your System Naturally