By Jennifer Mykolenko

fall leavesFall brings to us a lot of things we love: pumpkin pie, Halloween, Thanksgiving family dinner and lots of vibrant colors. Fall also makes us face yet again the season on cold and flu. However, there is a trick to maximize joyful moments and opportunities to build memories while minimizing potential health downfalls –building up your immune system ahead of time. The overall immunity stands on five main pillars: nutrition, supplementation, hydration, exercise and sleep.

A healthy diet is the base for one’s strong immune system. Sufficient amount of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and nutrients can help build appropriate defense for viral infections. There are also few immune-boosting foods that will help avoid or fight flu this season. Load up your meals with onion, garlic and shitake mushrooms for antiseptic compounds, citrus fruits to increase Vitamin C and ginger to clear out your nose and ease up cough.

To improve the effectiveness of your immune-boosting diet during fall, it might be a good idea to add supplements. Taking a multivitamins daily will help you stay healthy and energetic.  When choosing a multivitamin, make sure it contains a minimum of 1,000mg of Vitamin C, 50mg of Zink and 25mg of Vitamin D and full range of Vitamin B complex. Taking 1,000mg of Echinacea daily would also be very beneficial as it is a powerful immune-booster.

Proper hydration improves work of all systems within a body and immune system is not an exception. Water helps to flush out toxins and other “waste” through urination and it also carries oxygen to organs and muscles. Water also promotes hygiene of mucous membranes, eyes and assists in food digestion.

Exercising in addition to all of its well-known positive effects on human body has an added benefit of helping to prevent and fight off cold and flu in early stages. Regular fitness helps to flush out toxins and bacteria through sweat and also decreases stress levels which are known to weaken immune system. During the exercise blood circulates faster allowing white blood cells move around faster to discover and fight sources of infection.

Lack of sleep puts your body in a stress-mode and creates interruptions for immune system functions. According to the first stress-related immune depression studies from 1998, regular sleep deprivation increases vulnerability to common cold and flu. Also a new research by Sleep to Live Institute shows that a regular pattern of sleeping less than six hours a day may increase risk of heart stroke, diabetes and bone damage. Overall the need for sleep is genetically predetermined and everyone needs to find their happy medium (eight hour plus or minus).

Eat right, supplement correctly, hydrate sufficiently, exercise regularly and sleep well to stay happy and healthy this fall!