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Protect Your Immune System in Winter

Jan 15, 2024

Health and Wellness

Protect Your Immune System in Winter

The immune system is your body’s defence mechanism, helping to combat harmful bacteria and viruses that cause infections such as the flu, common cold, or respiratory illnesses.

Maintaining a robust immune system in winter is crucial, as it helps protect you from the several diseases that tend to occur and aggravate in cold weather.

However, winter can pose significant challenges to your immune health due to dry air, reduced sun exposure, etc.

Therefore, it becomes essential to boost your immune system in winter to maintain a healthy lifestyle across the winter and beyond.

Understanding Your Immune System

Your immune system has various white blood cells that work together to protect your body from the harmful microorganisms, including:

  • Leukocytes – They identify foreign substances or infections, ingest them, destroy them, and then make antibodies.
  • Phagocytes – They include neutrophils, which attack invading organisms and fight bacterial infections.
  • B Lymphocytes and T Lymphocytes – Present in your thymus gland and bone marrow, they look for invading organisms to destroy them with defense cells. Lymphocytes make antibodies that help you fight off a similar invader that enters your body the next time.

However, the winter season and the associated health issues can impact the efficiency of your immune system. So, it must work harder than it usually does.

Here are some reasons why your immunity is likely decreased during winter:

  • Reduced Levels of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential to fight off invading pathogens; people often get it from the sun. However, the lack of sunlight exposure during winter months reduces vitamin D levels, lowering your immune function.

Also Read: How to Increase Vitamin D Levels in Winter.

  • Narrowed Blood Vessels

Breathing in dry, cold air during the winter season constricts the blood vessels in your upper respiratory tract through which white blood cells travel to fight germs.

As blood vessels narrow, white blood cells cannot pass through them, preventing your body from combating microorganisms.

  • Reduced Nose Immunity

Your nose has tiny hairs (cilia) that catch small microorganisms before they enter your lungs.

However, breathing in dry air can lead to mucus formation, which blocks the tiny hairs, preventing them from catching the viruses and bacteria. This way, they grow and multiply, causing you illnesses.

  • Dry Air Affects Immunity

The dry air in the winter lacks humidity, allowing the flu viruses to spread more easily. Also, people use heaters during winter to warm their homes, which further dries the air.

5 Tips to Boost Your Immunity in Winter

Winter can be difficult for your immune system, as cold weather and increased exposure to bacteria and viruses can make you more vulnerable to illnesses.

However, there are several practical tips to build a tolerance to cold weather to keep yourself healthy throughout the season, including:

1. Immune-Boosting Vitamins and Nutrients

Maximizing the intake of immune-boosting nutrients and vitamins can strengthen your immune system, combating viruses and other pathogens. Enrich your diet with foods and beverages rich in:

  • Vitamin C – Strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.
  • Zinc - Shrimp, chickpeas, beef, lentils, and cashews.
  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) – Though the body naturally produces it, you can find it in protein-rich foods like turkey, seafood, and chicken.
  • Vitamin D - Beef liver, tuna, salmon, and dairy fortified with vitamin D.
  • Quercetin - Fruits, berries, tea, onions, broccoli, and red and white wine.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water ensures healthy blood circulation, vital for optimal immune function. Water helps transport nutrients across your body, assisting it to fight off infections and promoting the proper functioning of your organs. 

3. Lifestyle Practices

Regular exercise promotes immune cell circulation, which protects you against infections and diseases. Simple exercises like swimming, jogging, and cycling can enhance the overall functioning of your immune system. Also, prioritizing quality sleep keeps you healthy.

While you sleep, your body releases a protein called cytokines, which are responsible for immune system cell growth and protects your body from infections.

4. Manage Stress

Stress can impact your immune system in various ways, including decreasing lymphocyte production and increasing your risk for infections, increasing your body’s inflammatory response, affecting sleep, slowing digestion, and impacting mental health.

However, you can effectively manage your stress by walking, spending time with your friends or family, and engaging in relaxing activities.

5. Regular Checkups

Winter is well-known for bringing numerous illnesses, including the common cold, flu, and other respiratory viruses. Schedule regular checkups with your doctor for timely management and treatment of any underlying health conditions.

Boost Your Immunity and Combat Winter Illnesses with 8-2-8 Urgent Care

At 828 Urgent Care, we offer convenient urgent medical care to those dealing with winter-related illnesses. We advise you to stick to immune-boosting practices to improve your immunity throughout the winter and beyond. Don’t let winter take a toll on your health.

We are available from 8 am to 8 pm every day, including holidays. You can also contact 8-2-8 Urgent Care and our staff will walk you through our online self-check-in from the convenience of your home! Call (760) 216-6253.

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