Not everyone is on board with the flu shot once winter rolls around. If you are one of those who doesn’t want to get the shot, this guide is for you! It is possible to boost your immune system naturally and give your body the extra edge this cold and flu season without getting the controversial shot.

1. Cut Back On The Booze And Smoking

The first thing to do to get your body ready to fight off all those germs is to cut back on alcoholic drinks. Excessive consumption of alcohol impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to lung infections. Consider cutting back or quitting smoking too if you enjoy this indulgence. Tobacco smoke undermines basic immune defenses and raises the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia in everyone including in those around you who breathe in the second-hand smoke. It’s been known to aggravate and increase the likelihood of middle ear infections in kids.

2. Eat More Citrus Fruits, Veggies, Nuts, and Seeds

You can also begin eating healthier. Even if dieting is not your thing, having a well-balanced and vitamin and mineral rich diet will benefit your body in several ways, including that much needed immune system boost. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, and try to get in healthier fats, such as seeds and nuts. On top of feeling better in general, add citrus fruits specifically. Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons have high vitamin C content, and that’s one of the most powerful vitamins to boost when feeling ill.

3. Get Plenty Of Sleep

The next thing you should do is get enough sleep. Americans, in general, are chronically sleep deprived. But during those months when you need your body in tip-top condition in order to fight off those nasty germs. Your body needs sleep to fight off viruses. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. This is because while you sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation often decreases the production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods in which when you don’t get enough sleep.

4. Get Some Sun!

Sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. In the summer, a 10-15 minute exposure (minus sunscreen) is enough. However, above 42 degrees latitude (Boston) from November through February, sunlight is too weak and very few foods contain adequate levels of this essential vitamin. Low vitamin D levels correlate with a greater risk of respiratory infection. A 2010 study in kids showed that 1200 IU a day of supplemental vitamin D reduced the risk of influenza A.  This vitamin is essential to managing stress, which too much of can also impact your immune system.

5. Try An Immune-Boosting Bone Broth

According to Ready Nutrition, medical experts point out that broth helps to kick-start your immune system through the slow cooking process. The process of slowly simmering bones for up to a period of 24 hours causes the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds such as collagen, and essential amino acids such as proline, glycine, and glutamine.  These amino acids have the power to transform your health, heal your body, and calm your mind. Further, the minerals in the marrow help build blood cells, which is the healing mechanism in the body. When vegetables are added to the broth you’ll get an even more powerful immune boost! They release dense nutrients, antibiotic, and antiviral properties into the liquid.

For great recipes and how to make the best most effective bone broth, click here.

If you follow even a few of these easy and helpful tips you should be putting yourself on the path to having a strong immune system and giving your body the ability to fight off the common cold or the flu!

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