Sick woman sneezing in tissue. Winter cold.According to the Centers for Disease Control peak flu season in the United States occurs between December and February. There are a few contributing factors. When outdoor temperatures drop we spend more time indoors. Add in a few holiday gatherings and game day parties to come up with the perfect environment in which to pass around cold and flu germs. Despite all that closeness and being closed indoors there are some ways to boost your immune system so you are less likely to get sick.

Let’s repeat the obvious – Strive for at least five each day

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and one way to boost your immune system. The recommendation is that you consume the colors of the rainbow to cast a wide net for critical nutrients. Those thought to be of biggest benefit for healthy immune function are:

  • Selenium – found in spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms.Immune System
  • Zinc – reported to reduce severity and duration of colds and found in oysters, whole grains, poultry and dairy products.
  • Vitamin A – found in sweet potatoes, peppers, mangos, leafy greens and beef liver.
  • Vitamin C – may also reduce the length and severity of colds and found in strawberries, citrus fruits and watermelon
  • Vitamin B6 – found in sunflower seeds, pistachios, avocados, prunes and bananas.
  • Vitamin D – found in swordfish, sockeye salmon and tuna. For the best source seek out some sun.
  • Vitamin E – found in sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, tomato, kiwi and spinach.

Getting moving

You really might just be able to run away from a cold. Researchers don’t have proof yet but they are reasonably certain that there is a correlation between moderate, regular exercise and healthy immune function. So go ahead and lace up those sneakers, you may not just whittle your waistline away but you may also keep the sniffles at bay.

Manage stress

There is some evidence that chronic stress can suppress healthy immune function. Some strategies include:

  • Exercise – opt for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. If you can’t do that much, start where you are and do what you can.
  • Journaling – write down the things that occupy your mind most. Make a plan for what you can change and decide to release what you can’t.
  • Mindfulness – focusing on present moment awareness can help us let go of worries about yesterday and tomorrow.
  • Meditation – can help us notice when we have become lost in thoughts that contribute to stress.

Get some zzzz’s

Everyone experiences occasional sleeplessness. Over time insomnia can reduce immune function. Boost your immunity this winter by getting enough sleep each day. Some strategies include:

  • Managing stress
  • Creating the right sleep environment – be sure the room is not too warm or bright.
  • Stop screen time – turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed time. If you must use technology download special apps that filter sleep disrupting blue lights

Get outside with friends

Germs are more likely to be spread inside in close quarters and social isolation contributes to suppressed immune function. What’s a body to do? Give colds the boot by getting outdoors with your buddies.

Keep your immune system humming with these tips and, of course, remember the cardinal rule – wash your hands thoroughly and often. This may be the winter you escape cold-free.