Table of Contents
- What Happens to Your Body During Fall?
- Stay Hydrated at All Times
- Pack in the Protein
- Feast on Fantastic Fruits and Veggies
- Ready for a Fall Detox?
- Sunlight and Vitamin D
- Take Probiotics
- Avoid Antibiotics
- Take a Walk
- Try Meditating
- Dry-brush Your Body
- Laugh a Lot
- Don’t Overdo the Cocktails
- At Least Try to Quit Smoking
- Wash Your Hands
- Stoke up on Sleep
- Let’s Recap
Alluring autumn is here, bringing crispy breezes, colorful leaves, plump pumpkins…and loads of nasty cold and flu germs. Although we are into the Halloween decorations; Thanksgiving and fall festivals; and comfy hoodies; we are not that excited about the number of bacteria and other pathogens floating around, waiting to attack our immune systems.
However, we are not going to let viruses and bacteria kill the fall mood, and neither should you! Don’t let fever, chills, and stuffiness ruin this super season. Instead, follow a few time-honored natural methods to boost your natural defense system this fall.
Let’s get right to it!
What Happens to Your Body During Fall?
Before we name all the ways you can boost your natural defense system, let’s see what happens to the body during the fall season.
You should be aware that every season requires adjustments in your diet, activity levels, and habits. Why? Because your body reacts distinctly during different seasons, and you are the only one who can keep those changes under control. Here are some major transformations your body goes through:
- As the temperature is dropping, your blood vessels are constricting, which leads to higher blood pressure. But, don’t panic – you have nothing to worry about. This is a common phenomenon and doesn’t require taking medications to lower the blood pressure.
- You are going to feel more tired due to the days being shorter, and less exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D, which regulates your sleep rhythm.
- If you are feeling butterflies in your stomach almost all the time, thank your high libido for that. Remember: Testosterone and estrogen levels are the highest in autumn.
- Your memory will improve.
- You are more likely to get dehydrated. Why you may ask? Well, simply because you forget to drink water. The opposite occurs during the summer when you just can’t get enough water due to feeling thirsty all the time.
Well, who knew fall could have such an impact on your body? Don’t let this information discourage you though, making you stop caring about your health and immune system. You can easily boost your system! In fact, here are 15 great ways to boost your natural defense system this fall…
Stay Hydrated at All Times
This seems to be the oldest recipe in the book, but it can make a huge difference in how you are feeling. Drinking enough water–at least 8 cups a day to be precise – will help cleanse the body of bacteria and germs. But that’s not all water does. Let’s check some biological facts.
According to Hydratem8.co.uk, water also helps the body to oxygenate. This means that the blood cells get enough oxygen, and as a result, the rest of the body, including muscles and organs, now work on full power. In fact, there are two organs in the body that really appreciate you drinking enough water! Believe it or not, your brain and kidneys work properly, when you drink the recommended daily dosage.
Thanks to water, the brain produces melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. In addition, by staying hydrated, you are helping the kidneys work their magic – eliminating toxins through urination.
If after reading all the benefits of drinking water, you still feel like it is too much hassle, why not add a little flavor to your next glassful? Lemon, perhaps? Not only will it make the water more tasteful, but it will also add some Vitamin C, which is a well-known vitamin that will surely boost your natural defense system.
Pack in the Protein
Days are shorter and colder, inviting steamy treats like spicy chili and savory stew. Many disease-fighting antibodies are made of protein and lean meats; fish and chicken give a potent kick of germ-busting power to your diet. Protein-rich foods like beef, pork, beans, oysters, and crabmeat, are also loaded with bacteria-fighting zinc, builder of infection-fighting white blood cells. Loaded with protein and good fats, nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts are super sources of immune-boosting magnesium.
Feast on Fantastic Fruits and Veggies
You can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies. And those rich in vitamins A, C, and E are also super flu-fighters. For best results, chow down on about five cups of varied green, orange, and yellow produce. Vitamin A, packed in such veggies as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and dark leafy greens, helps regulate the immune system and invasive combat germs. Mighty defender against colds and flu, Vitamin C, also improves iron absorption and is found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, and papayas. Pick nuts, seeds, and turnips for extra Vitamin E, known to fight flu and upper respiratory infections.
Ready for a Fall Detox?
It might seem odd that you should detox the body in fall and not in spring, but as we mentioned in the text above, every season requires making adjustments in your behavior so the body can adapt accordingly and quickly. When it comes to detoxing, fall is a great time to take care of your digestive system and lungs.
What steps should you take to detoxify your body this autumn? In short, the main goal of fall detox is to alkalize the body. This means that by taking in certain foods you are creating an alkaline environment i.e. maintaining the body’s pH level. The opposite is an acid environment, which is an undesirable state, to say the least. Let’s just say that tumors grow faster in acidic environments – you get the picture.
It’s the Thanksgiving period, of course, you are going to give yourself a break! It’s not uncommon for the digestive system to be endangered by all the delicious desserts. But once that’s over, be sure to stay away from flour, sugars, and dairy. We have already mentioned which fruits and vegetables you should include in your diet, but here are some additional tips on how you can detox the body:
- Start the day with a glass or two of pure water or with a glass of warm lemonade.
- Are you having a hard time waking up without coffee? No problem! Opt for a cup of green tea. Green tea consists of numerous minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium) and vitamins (A, B, C) but also contains caffeine. As you can see, it can boost your natural defense system and wake you up. Definitely a great option!
- Another great beverage is hibiscus tea, which helps with digesting and maintaining your cholesterol levels.
- If you are not a fan of drinking tea, substitute it with some delicious smoothies. Check out this post on Greenblender.com. There’s even one with cacao!
- If you are eating vegan, try to stay away from tofu and soy products, since they don’t alkalize the body.
- Are you spending too much time on your phone? Try putting it away when you get home, or while hanging out with friends and family. All those emails can wait a couple of hours.
- A true fall detox also means making changes in your environment. Start with the bathroom and throw away all the products that you are not using daily, or have expired. The same thing goes for the kitchen. Give away or throw away all processed foods, and choose healthier options. This means cleaning out artificial sweeteners and junk food from your cabinet.
- If you are feeling like you are not fully cleansed, go through your closet and pick out all the items you know you are not going to wear. Donate those clothes to the nearest charity. Nothing feels as good as knowing you helped others. 🙂
Sunlight and Vitamin D
In a post in which we described how to stay productive during cold days, we mentioned that your body needs Vitamin D. Here’s why.
A study from 2011, Vitamin D and the Immune System, showed that immune system cells react to Vitamin D, especially with patients who have an autoimmune disease. These autoimmune diseases include:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Diabetes Mellitus (DM)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
As you can see, Vitamin D does not only promote bone health, it can also protect you during these cold, fall days. So, what can you do to get the optimal dosage of Vitamin D to boost your natural defense system? The best tip we can give you is to spend time outside at least 30 minutes every day since your body produces this vitamin after you have been exposed to UVB radiation. Additionally, be sure to include eggs and fatty fish in your diet.
Yes, you have read that right – you should take probiotics even when you don’t have stomach issues. Why? Because maintaining a healthy environment in your digestive system will help keep the germs away. However, keep in mind that probiotics and prebiotics are not the same. If you are not sure what the difference is, be sure to check out our article that covers the basics of prebiotics.
This tip is actually related to the previous one. Although antibiotics are highly effective for eliminating bacteria from the body, they also tend to disturb the digestive system, which leads to suppressing the immune system.
Take a Walk
Fall’s crisp, sunny days are perfect for a vigorous hike. Even 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can help charge up the immune system, keeping antibodies and white cells moving through the body in an active search for bacteria and viruses to attack. The increase in physical activity also works wonders for circulation, triggering the release of pathogen-fighting immune cells. Moderate workouts are the key to bolstering immunities, as extremely strenuous activities, such as marathon running, can cause a decrease in circulating white blood cells.
Although this tip might seem strange, keep in mind that there is a significant correlation between the mind and the body, and we are here to prove it to you.
A study conducted at UCLA showed that HIV patients who meditated managed to slow down the drop in their immune cells. The patients used the method “mindfulness meditation”, an approach to meditation in which one focuses on a specific sensation in a particular moment.
That sensation can be literally anything that you are currently doing, like focusing on your breathing – inhaling and exhaling the air. What makes mindfulness meditation so effective? By doing it, you are not overthinking and not thinking about past or future events. You are living in the present, appreciating the moment, which instantly calms the mind and the body.
Still not convinced? Well, check out this study, which pretty much shows the same results. By practicing mindfulness meditation, there was a positive effect on the left side of the brain. Not only that, meditators had a higher level of antibodies than non-meditators. Do you still need convincing that meditation has the ability to boost your natural defense system?
Dry-brush Your Body
You have probably seen large, wooden brushes that are firm but soft to the touch. These types of brushes are meant for dry-brushing the body.
Dry-brushing is a method that consists of brushing your whole body once or twice a day. By doing so, you are removing dead skin cells, reducing cellulite and stimulating the lymphatic system. This system transports the lymph, a liquid that consists of white blood cells – cells that protect and create a natural defense system in your body. If you are willing to try this out, our advice is to do it in the morning, since you will feel more energized after.
Still not sure how to do it? Here are some tips that can help you:
- You can start from your feet or arms. Just remember that each part of the body should be brushed about 10 times.
- To stimulate the lymphatic system, brush the skin towards the heart.
- You should brush your stomach and armpits in a circular clockwise motion.
- Use one brush for your face and one for your body.
- Try not to brush too hard. Dry-brushing is not about having a painful experience. If your skin is getting red lower the pressure.
- If you are having a dry skin you can use an oil applied on the brush. Just make sure you are doing it after showering.
Laugh a Lot
We have to admit, this tip gives the impression this is a joke, but it is not. There is a reason it is said, laughter is the best medicine. To be more precise, laughter is associated with the lymphatic system, a system which plays a significant part in boosting your immunity.
Why is the lymphatic system so important? Well, as we previously mentioned, this system not only transports lymph but also helps you to get rid of all toxins from the body. The more lymph is passing through lymph nodes, the more lymphocytes are produced. It may seem insane, but laughter actually increases the speed of lymph transport up 10-15 times. When you laugh, your diaphragm goes up and down pretty quickly, which results in negative pressure in the thoracic duct.
So, next time you feel a bit under the weather and need something to boost your natural defense system, remember to share a laugh with your loved ones and relax.
Don’t Overdo the Cocktails
It’s OK to have one or two drinks before the fire on a brisk evening but try to limit alcohol consumption during the flu season, as too much alcohol suppresses the immune system’s ability to fight bacteria and viruses. More than three drinks can definitely have a detrimental effect on your ability to fend off colds and flu, and can also lead to poor sleep patterns–another immunity-buster.
Though some studies suggest that wine is less harmful than beer or spirits and can help protect against the common cold, the evidence is pretty limited.
At Least Try to Quit Smoking
There is no point in beating about the bush: Smoking is bad for you. Not just for your lungs, but your entire body–from the digestive to the cardiovascular system. They all suffer from taking in nicotine, acetone, and carbon monoxide daily.
There was always speculation that smoking cigarettes make symptoms of a cold or a virus infection worse, and a study from 2008 actually confirmed it.
The study, which was conducted at Yale School of Medicine, showed that the immune system of mice that were exposed to cigarette smoke was more endangered than the ones who didn’t. They had severe tissue damage and serious inflammation symptoms when they were given a virus.
To conclude, smokers are more likely to have breathing problems when a virus occurs, than non-smokers. So if you want to get over a virus as soon as possible, and additionally boost your natural defense system, flush these bad boys down the toilet. Your lungs will thank you!
Wash Your Hands
Perhaps the simplest way of all to stay healthy is to wash your hands regularly. Any surface can be a hotbed for nasty germs, and frequent scrubbing with soap and water, or precautionary squirts of an antibacterial gel, can go a long way toward staying sniffle-free.
Stoke up on Sleep
OK, you’ve packed your fridge with fruits, veggies, and lean protein; you are adhering to a regular exercise schedule and you are curtailing the cocktails. Don’t undo all this good work by skipping on sleep. It’s so important to give your body the replenishing rest it needs to maintain strong defenses and protect from infections and hormonal changes, especially during the flu season.
To get the best shut-eye, try sticking to a schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even weekends. Another tip we can give you is to mute all your smart devices or turn off the Wi-Fi. That way you won’t have to get up every time someone texts you or decides to send you an email.
So we gave you 15 great tips that will help you boost your natural defense system, and stay healthy and energized this fall. Let’s recap and go through all of them briefly once more:
- Try to drink at least 8 cups of water per day. By staying hydrated you will remove all toxins from the body.
- Proteins play a huge role in your diet. Be sure to eat foods like beef, pork, beans, and oysters. Additionally, load with nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts.
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables, especially the ones that are rich in A, C and E vitamins.
- Detox the body with a glass of warm lemonade in the morning. Also, detox your environment as well.
- Be sure to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside to get the optimal level of Vitamin D.
- Take probiotics to keep your digestive system healthy.
- Avoid antibiotics unless it is extremely necessary. Antibiotics can disturb the digestion and, therefore, lower your natural defense system.
- Exercise in moderation, 20-30 minutes each day, or simply take a walk.
- Practice meditation daily as much as you can. A 10-minute meditation is more than enough.
- Dry-brush the body to boost your lymphatics system.
- Laugh a lot because laughter is the best medicine.
- Avoid alcohol. If you are a cocktail fan be sure to opt for a healthier alternative – a glass of fine wine.
- Try to quit smoking so your body doesn’t experience serious symptoms during a cold or virus infection.
- Wash your hands regularly to get rid of all bacteria and germs.
- Be sure to get 8 hours of sleep to protect and replenish the body.
How do you boost your natural defense system during the fall season? Share with us in the comment section below!
Last article update: 9/24/2019
Image credits: Pixabay.com