5 Steps to Build A Strong Immune Defense

5 Steps to Build A Strong Immune Defense

Cold and flu season is not only because the temperatures are colder. There are a few key reasons our immune systems go on hiatus and there are things you can do to give it the boost it needs to fend of the next round of colds. Below, we arm you with 5 Steps to Build a Strong Immune Defense.

Getting Enough Sunlight

Vitamin D is vital to the immune function in your body. Vitamin D is created in our bodies through sun exposure, which means it’s important to expose your skin to the sun. This becomes harder in the fall and winter as the days get shorter and we start to add more layers of clothing, so it’s really important to make it a point to get 10-30 minutes of strong sunlight several times a week. The reality is that even with good amounts of sun exposure, as we get older we get less efficient at making vitamin D so, it’s a good idea to have your vitamin D levels checked through some simple blood work and supplement with vitamin D drops, if necessary.


Moderate exercise 3-5 times/week (150 minutes a week total) is the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services. Depending on your age, this might mean a brisk morning walk or a pickleball match with your buddies. The important thing is that you get your heart rate up and you break a sweat. There was a great 2019 study that showed that moderate-intensity exercise can stimulate cellular immunity by increasing the circulation of immune cells in your body (*4). This will help you fight off germs that you are exposed to faster.

Sauna and Ice Baths

While saunas and ice baths have been around for centuries, there continues to be increasing evidence on the benefits of alternating between the two. It is incredibly powerful for improving blood circulation and decreasing inflammation. The shock of the two temperatures activates the fight-or-flight response and produces a calming effect afterward. Additionally, with prolonged practice, these treatments lessen your body’s heightened stressor reaction on a day-to-day basis. As we know, chronic stress compromises your immune system, so whatever you can do to bring some calmness and balance to your life will help you stay healthier.

At Least 7 Hours of Sleep Each Night

We’ve shared about the benefits of sleep with you in previous columns but it never hurts to share again. Your body needs sleep. Even though some people feel like they can operate just fine on 4-5 hours of sleep/night, countless sleep studies demonstrate that at least 7 hours of sleep/night is necessary for your health. For children and teenagers, that number is much higher, but the average adult needs 7-9 hours. Making a quick change to your sleep pattern is tough, so try going to bed just 20-30 minutes earlier each night for a few weeks and notice the difference.

Healthy Diet (less sugar!)

While you always hear “eat more fruits and vegetables” for a healthier diet, if you change one thing about what you eat, less sugar is it. Sugar, which can hide in many forms, even in some fruits, can reduce your natural immune response for 5 hours after you eat it! I’m not advocating to never give your kids (or yourself) a treat every once in a while, but just remember that even after the zoomies have worn off and the kiddos have crashed, the sugar is still having a (negative) effect for hours after.

A great checklist for lifestyle changes, vitamins, or dietary changes you can add into your routine is 5-7-9 Building a Strong Defense.

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