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5 Surprising Ways to Supercharge Your Immune System and Beat Cold and Flu Season

As the cold and flu season approaches, taking extra precautions is important to keep your immune system strong and healthy. A robust immune system can aid your body in defending against infections, avoiding illnesses, and accelerating the healing process. Lifestyle balance has the biggest effect on supporting natural immunity. Get optimal sleep, exercise, manage your stress, and eat a healthy diet. If you want some additional help to stay healthy this fall and winter, choose from this list of my top natural immune boosters::

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is crucial for maintaining a strong immune system. During sleep, our bodies repair and regenerate cells, essential for overall health and well-being. If you fail to get enough sleep, your immune system may weaken, making it harder for your body to defend against infections, viruses, and illnesses.

Poor sleep quality can disrupt the body's natural sleep cycle, harming your immune system. That's why it's important to establish good sleep habits to ensure you get the most restful and restorative sleep possible.

Here are some tips for getting better quality sleep and staying healthy by supporting your immune system:

  1. Establish a regular sleep schedule: Aim to keep a regular sleep pattern for better sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. This regime helps regulate your body's internal clock and improves sleep quality.
  2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Develop one that helps you wind down before bed. Some ways to unwind and relax include soaking in a warm bath, reading an interesting book, or practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation.
  3. Limit alcohol intake: Consuming caffeine and alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep and disrupt your body's natural sleep cycle. It is advisable to avoid these substances for a few hours leading up to bedtime.
  4. Avoid using electronic devices before bed: To improve your sleep, it is recommended that you avoid using them for at least an hour before bed. This is because the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.

Nutrient-rich diet 

Maintaining a strong and healthy immune system requires a healthy diet. The foods you consume are crucial to your body's ability to fight off infections. Consuming a diet that is abundant in nutrients, vitamin D, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants can effectively support your immune function and promote good health.

Here are some tips for incorporating immune-boosting foods into your diet:

  1. Focus on whole foods: Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein are excellent sources of essential nutrients and antioxidants supporting the immune health. To ensure that you receive a diverse range of nutrients, it is important to incorporate a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables into your diet.
  2. Incorporate immune-boosting foods: Certain foods have been proven to have immune-boosting properties. Adding nutritious food to your diet can boost your immune system and maintain good health and happiness.

Some examples include:

  • Citrus fruits: Rich in vitamin C, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons help increase the production of white blood cells, which are crucial in fighting infections.
  • Sweet potatoes: High in beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body, sweet potatoes help maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes – both important barriers against infections.
  • Lemon juice: Add lemon juice to your water, tea, or salad dressing for an extra dose of vitamin C.
  • Fermented foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut are packed with beneficial probiotics that support gut health and immune function.
  • Healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts into your diet, as they are important for maintaining cell membrane integrity and supporting immune health.
  • Nutrient dense foods: Consume nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, berries, and salmon to help provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for a strong immune system.
  • Lymphatic system: Support your lymphatic system by staying hydrated and engaging in regular physical activity.
  • Sugar intake: Limit your sugar intake, as excessive sugar consumption can suppress the immune system.
  • Vitamin E: Rich in vitamin E, foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach can help support your immune system.
Food Category Benefits
Oranges Citrus Fruits High in vitamin C, supports white blood cell production
Grapefruits Citrus Fruits Rich in vitamin C, helps strengthen the immune system
Lemons Citrus Fruits Good source of vitamin C, supports immune function
Sweet Potatoes Vegetables High in beta-carotene, supports healthy skin and mucous membranes
Spinach Leafy Greens Rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, and immune-supporting nutrients
Almonds Nuts Excellent source of vitamin E, supports immune system
Salmon Fish High in omega-3 fatty acids, helps reduce inflammation
Yogurt Fermented Foods Contains probiotics, supports gut health and immune function
Kefir Fermented Foods Rich in probiotics, promotes a healthy gut and immune system
Sauerkraut Fermented Foods Packed with probiotics, supports gut health and immune function
Avocado Healthy Fats Contains healthy fats, helps maintain cell membrane integrity and supports immune health
Olive Oil Healthy Fats Rich in healthy fats, supports heart health and immune function
Sunflower Seeds Seeds High in vitamin E, antioxidants, and immune-supporting nutrients
Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) Fruits Rich in antioxidants and immune-supporting nutrients


Taking immune boosting vitamins and supplements can effectively support your immune system and reduce the risk of illness and disease. It is essential to understand that supplements do not replace a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, certain supplements can effectively enhance the immune system. Some of these immune support and supplements are::

Supplement Benefits
Fish oil Anti-inflammatory, immune support
Zinc Immune support, reduces cold/flu duration and severity
Vitamin C Antioxidant, immune support, reduces cold/flu duration and severity
Vitamin D Immune support, reduces risk of respiratory infections
Probiotics Immune support, improves gut health

Keep You Exercise Regimen

Regular physical activity is not only important for overall health and well-being, but it's also a powerful way to boost your immune system. Exercise can help support the immune system by reducing inflammation, increasing the production of white blood cells, and improving circulation throughout the body.

Benefits of exercise for the immune system

  • Reduces inflammation: Inflammation can hurt the immune system and increase the risk of chronic diseases. Regular exercise can help reduce inflammation, promoting a healthier immune response.
  • Increases the production of white blood cells: White blood cells are essential to the immune system and help fight off infections and diseases. Exercise can help increase the production of white blood cells, improving the body's ability to defend against pathogens.
  • Improves circulation: Exercise can help improve circulation throughout the body, allowing immune cells to move more efficiently and fight infections.

Tips for incorporating exercise into your routine

  • Choose activities you enjoy: Exercise doesn't have to be a chore. Choose activities you enjoy, whether it's going for a hike, taking a dance class, or practicing yoga.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day: The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, which breaks down to 30 minutes daily.
  • Mix up your routine to prevent boredom: Doing the same daily exercise routine can become boring and lead to burnout. Mix up your routine by trying different activities or adding variety to your workouts.

Good Sleep

To maintain a healthy immune system, getting good quality sleep is crucial. When we sleep, our bodies release cytokines, which are proteins that help combat infection, inflammation, and chronic stress too. Without sufficient sleep, the body may not produce enough cytokines, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of diseases and infections.

To improve your sleep quality, try incorporating these tips into your routine:

  1. Establish a consistent sleep routine: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends, can help regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle and promote better sleep.
  2. Create a sleep-conducive environment: Ensure that your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to ensure you get the best quality sleep possible.
  3. Limit exposure to electronics: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt our natural sleep patterns. For better sleep quality, it's advised to refrain from using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime.
  4. Relax before bed: Engage in diverse activities like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing to effectively soothe your body and attain improved sleep.
  5. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality, but it's important to avoid intense exercise close to bedtime as it can interfere with sleep and make you feel depressed.

Dr. Shannon Sarrasin is a naturopathic doctor at Flourish Naturopathic.

Flourish Naturopathic offers 1-hour "Immune Boost Consults" for adults and children to give you an individualized plan for supporting your immune system.