The things that keep our bodies healthy year-round are well-known, but sometimes we need a reminder to keep up with our healthy habits. We’ve pulled together our top tips for helping you stay healthy and thrive year-round.
1. Keep Moving
Health Canada recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity per day. This could be walking, cycling, a bodyweight workout or lifting weights in the gym. There are so many ways to get your movement in, and you can have fun while you’re at it.
Keeping your movement up does more than help you manage your weight, it also:
- Keeps inflammation down
- Helps manage stress and reduces the release of stress-related hormones
- Improves circulation, which means disease-fighting white blood cells (WBCs) circulate faster to help your body fight off invaders
2. Take Vitamin D
Especially in Canada, it’s common to have low vitamin D levels throughout the winter. Our bodies can make vitamin D from exposure to the sun. When this is decreased in colder months, it’s a good idea to rely on a supplement. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with poor bone growth, cardiovascular problems, low mood, and a weak immune system.
There are some food sources of vitamin D, including egg yolks, mushrooms, salmon, canned tuna, and beef liver. If you’re looking to supplement, choose a D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement (as opposed to D2) because it’s more easily absorbed by the body.
3. Sleep 7-9 Hours Each Night
Getting adequate sleep on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do to support your body in staying healthy and fighting off viruses. One of the reasons sleep is so important is that during extended periods of sleep, the body releases cytokines which are a type of protein that helps the body fight infection by regulating the immune system.
4. Limit Alcohol Consumption
In addition to making your body more acidic (creating an environment for disease to thrive), new research shows that drinking alcohol can damage the body’s dendritic cells. These cells are a vital component of the immune system. One drink every so often won’t hurt you. But an increase in alcohol consumption over time can increase your exposure to bacterial and viral infections.
5. Stay Calm
No one likes to be told to relax. But there is a connection between mental stress and physical illness. It’s important for your mental, physical and emotional health to find ways to relieve mental stress and bring your mind into the present moment. To help, try practicing yoga, meditating, or doing deep breathing exercises.
Cortisol helps the body fight inflammation and disease, but when it’s released chronically (as in the case with ongoing stress) it lessens its overall effectiveness. The result? Increased inflammation and disease and a less effective immune system.
6. Eat Your Greens and Coloured Veggies
This might sound like common sense, but we’re betting you need a reminder. Green, leafy vegetables are rich sources of vitamins that support a healthy immune system. Vegetables also provide fibre which helps your body effectively eliminate toxins and waste, contributing to greater overall health.
Coloured vegetables are high in antioxidants that allow your body to reduce oxidative stress, meaning your cells and tissues will be healthier and better able to perform their functions.
Greens and coloured veggies are also sources of vitamin C, which helps the immune system ward off colds and flus, so load up your plate with the colours of the rainbow!
7. Connect With Others
One study found a connection between chronic disease and loneliness, especially in people recovering from heart surgery. Some health professionals even consider social isolation a risk factor for chronic diseases.
That’s because social isolation can increase stress, which slows the body’s immune response and ability to heal quickly. Find ways to connect with friends and family – go for a walk, share a meal, or catch up over the phone when connecting in person isn’t possible. Spending time amongst people is good for your mental and physical health.
8. Watch What You Share
Flu viruses can generally survive on surfaces for 24 hours. That means it can be easy to spread germs between family members or in public places. It’s a good practice, at any time of year, to avoid sharing personal items like:
- Eating utensils
- Drinking glasses
Wash commonly used items like hand towels regularly to avoid the spread of germs within your home.
9. Wash Your Hands
If there’s one thing the global pandemic has instilled in us all, it’s the importance of handwashing. Stay diligent about your handwashing year round to make it a habit. One of the main ways germs make it into our bodies is from the things we touch. Washing your hands is your best defence against keeping germs out.
To keep yourself healthy year-round it takes consistency with some basic health habits. Pick a few from the list that you’d like to improve upon and focus on them for a few weeks until they become a habit. These simple health habits will help you thrive and keep your immune system strong.