Are you ready for the knock at the door?

Like a scientist peering through a microscope’s ocular lens, she focuses her attention on finding alien cells that threaten to invade and destroy.

Like Wonder Woman deflecting bullets with her metal bracelets, she protects the body from viruses and bacteria.

Like the anticipation we felt as children on Christmas Eve, we only miss her when she’s gone.

Who is she, you ask?

She’s your immune system, and understanding her better and giving her what she needs may be all that stands between you and cold and flu season survival. 

Many people know to consume the proper kind and amount of nutrients to battle germs. Many have read articles, like the one in The Washington Post, that report a cough or sneeze can catapult germs as far as 6-8 feet, which is why coughing and sneezing into your shoulder or the inside of your elbow is instinctual for so many. However, sleep’s role in a healthy immune system, specifically restorative sleep, isn’t always highlighted. This is a disservice to the cold and flu season conversation because restorative sleep is a heavy-hitter when it comes to boosting and maintaining a healthy immune system. Instead of playing lack of sleep as a martyr card and treating it as a sign of a productive day, people should take pride in obtaining the suggested hours of sleep each night: 7-8 hours a night for adults, 9-10 a night for teens, 10 hours a night for school-aged children, and 11-12 hours a night for preschoolers.

Along with restorative sleep, Vitamin D doesn’t always receive it’s fair share of the spotlight when discussing a healthy immune system. Many people grew up with someone who tossed vitamin C in their direction during cold and flu season like a parade participant tosses candy to the children who smile widest when their float passes by, generously and often. The importance of Vitamin C and staying healthy makes its way into almost every orange juice commercial and vitamin C-rich product that airs over the winter months. Vitamin D, on the other hand, isn’t this lucky. This is a shame because VItamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, fights depression and serves as a crucial piece of maintaining a healthy immune system.

The bottom line is a healthy immune system does not just magically happen. From the moment we’re born our immune system is boosted or shaken by the environment around us. In fact, a baby doesn’t have a mature immune system until 2-3 months after birth. Cold and flu season isn’t coming, it’s here. And it’s knocking on the door with promises of respiratory issues, sleepless nights, and trips to the pharmacy. Instead of opening the door with no armor and your shield lowered, consume the proper amount of vitamins every day, cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough, strive for restorative sleep, and never underestimate the power of preparation. 

Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach