Winter Wellness Tips In Boulder CO
With winter officially here, it’s hard not to get excited about the upcoming holidays, extra time with the family, and hopefully, some fun in the snow. But as exciting as this time of year is for many of us, it’s typically not our healthiest. The winter season often brings extra challenges to our immune system, which predispose us to catch the various viral strains that circulate. Many hospitals are in fact currently overwhelmed by the ‘tripledemic’ of viral infections (Influenza, RSV, and Covid-19) sweeping across the country. This is why our functional medicine team in Boulder CO feel it’s incredibly important to know what can put us at a higher risk of acute infections, and also which wellness tips we can implement now and onward in order to keep ourselves healthy throughout the entire holiday and winter season.
Catching Infections In Boulder CO
One of the main reasons for the increase in our susceptibility to catching various infections during this season is actually the dryer air in both our outdoor and indoor environments. Extended exposure to dry air leads to dehydration of our mucosal membranes, which act as our first line of defense against pathogens like viruses. Once the mucus in our eyes, nostrils, and mouth begins to dry out, our immune system is less adept at quickly trapping unfriendly microbes and preventing them from penetrating and invading our bodies deeper. Another immune stressor we are more affected by during the winter and holiday season is inadequate movement. Colder weather often makes for warmer couches because we feel less guilty about exercising our couch potato rights when outdoor exercising is so uninviting. Studies point to a decrease in the regular physical activity being associated with a decrease in the circulation of our immune cells, further contributing to seasonal pathogens taking advantage of us. Lastly, all the extra effort and stress associated with holiday shopping sprees, expenses, cleaning, cooking, and hosting can often lead us to not only lose sleep over the long ‘to-do lists,’ but also experience what is often referred to as ‘mom burnout.’ This results in the repeated release of cortisol and other stress hormones, which further contributes to the suppression of our immunity via inhibition of lymphocyte production—the exact white blood cell required for fighting viruses.
Immune System Heros
With all that in mind, there are still definite steps we can take during this time to prevent additional hits to our immunity and to promote a more robust response against viruses. Besides doing our best to hydrate our bodies, de-stress daily, move more and obtain sufficient sleep, there are also targeted nutrients we can supplement with to give our immune system the best fighting chance against these unfriendly onslaughts. Vitamin C, Zinc, and Vitamin D are true and tried immune-supportive nutrients that many of us already know to reach for the minute we feel like we’re coming down with something. Vitamin C is definitely a smart addition during the winter season because it enhances the natural activity of our antibodies, white blood cells, and natural killer cells—all the necessary agents that we need to keep in top-notch form when fighting off pathogens. Zinc is another immune hero we should have easily on hand due to its ability to prevent excessive immune activation and the out-of-control inflammation that can sometimes result from potent infections. Thirdly, Vitamin D has attained quite a bit of recognition for its immune benefits over the years, and rightfully so, as it has been shown in studies to lower the risk of acute respiratory infections, particularly in very deficient individuals.
Optimal Immune Function
However, as helpful as the above supplements may be, there are actually three other less well-known nutrients that are even more essential for optimal immune function. One of those nutrients is actually Magnesium. Known mostly for its relaxing and/or laxative effects, magnesium is not usually thought of as an immune-supportive nutrient, but it definitely should be. As an essential mineral, magnesium is required for hundreds of functions in the body, such as activating numerous enzymes involved in the absorption and metabolism of various nutrients associated with a healthy immune response. In fact, chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to the shutdown of Vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway and is one of the main but under-reported causes behind Vitamin D deficiency. Another essential nutrient similar to Magnesium that all cells and tissues of the body need to function properly is Thiamine or more commonly known as the B1 vitamin. In fact, Magnesium and B1 often work in conjunction as co-factor companions, activating the various enzymes needed to support high-energy systems and chemical pathways in the body, such as those involved with the immune response. Sometimes referred to as an "anti-stress" vitamin, Thiamine nourishes our nervous system, which improves the body's ability to withstand stressful conditions and in turn, protects our immunity. Thiamine deficiency has also been shown to increase inflammation and lead to aberrant antibody responses. As antibodies and T-cells are required to eliminate viruses, adequate B1 levels are likely to aid in proper immune responses during severe viral infections. Last but not least, iodine is another underdog of immune-supportive minerals because it’s one of the best natural antiseptics known to man! In fact, no pathogen can thrive in the body with enough iodine because it repels numerous viruses, parasites, fungi, yeast, and bacteria. For this reason, your immune system is completely dependent on enough iodine to function properly and iodine deficiency can lead to multiple immune system imbalances, such as frequent colds/flu, chronic UTIs, sinus infections, acne, bronchitis, pneumonia, and more.
Hopefully, the above information will give you something new to ponder and most of all, remind you to spend some time taking care of yourself and your immunity this winter season. If you are interested in learning whether you suffer from any deficiencies that could impact your immune response and/or want to learn how to supplement properly for immune support, we are here to help! Please feel free to call us at (303) 447-2225 to schedule your FREE Preliminary Functional Medicine Consult and find out how you can optimize your immunity during the winter season and beyond. We look forward to supporting you on your journey toward optimal health!
- Dr. Eva Dec
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