CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The “grass is greener” syndrome is often true when it comes to the seasons. In the heat of summer, we long for the cool, quiet of winter, and in winter, we ache for the warmth and light of summer. Just as some animals hibernate and migrate, humans also adapt to changing seasons as winter months present distinct challenges.
Winter is also synonymous with flu season. Researchers are working to better understand the links between illness and ambient temperatures. While there is much more work to do to learn about the effects of cold on human immunology, the early results of a 2022 study, published in the Journal of Allergy/Immunology this February, showed that cold temperatures lead to a decline in the immune response of cells in the nasal cavity to viruses, resulting in greater susceptibility to upper respiratory infections at colder times of year.
The study found that by reducing the temperature inside the nose by as little as 9 degrees, almost 50% of the billions of virus and bacteria-fighting cells in the nostrils died. The nose is the main entry point of viruses or bacteria into the body.
While masks or “nose socks” aren’t for everyone, boosting the immune system in colder weather is important so that you can remain healthy and enjoy the various celebrations that occur each November and December. Here are some basic tips for keeping your immunity high in colder months while minimizing susceptibility to cold and flu:
Enjoy the opportunity provided by shorter days to get the right amount of sleep.
Drink plenty of fluids while limiting those that contain dehydrating properties.
Choose nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
Practice regular hand hygiene.
Minimize stress; it is an immune system robber.
Exercise moderately to maintain immune cell circulation.
Dress warmly when outdoors, and maintain a comfortable body temperature.
Finally, get your annual flu shot, available at most pharmacies and medical clinics, including Family Healthcare in St. George, Hurricane and Cedar City.
Written by LORI WRIGHT, CEO of Family Healthcare.
Family Healthcare is a registered nonprofit organization providing accessible, high-quality medical, behavioral and dental care to the residents of southwest Utah since 2002. Call 435-986-2565 or visit familyhc.org for more information.
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