The days have finally arrived where we're ditching our puffers for lightweight jackets and the sun is shining well past 5 p.m. But with all the good things that come with the arrival of spring, the harsh transition from winter can take a toll on our bodies. The same thing seems to happen every time a new season rolls around. The weather shifts and everyone around you suddenly has an itch in their throat. Some of this is due to flu and allergy season of course; but when the seasons change, our use of heat or air conditioning can contribute to that dip in immune system strength as well.
“In the winter, it’s freezing outside and then you go inside a building and the heat is on so high and it's really dry. That’s actually a lot on our bodies, having to constantly adjust our temperature,” Dr. Erica Matluck, naturopathic doctor, nurse practitioner, and holistic coach, explains to Brides. “Body temperature is one of those things that kills off bugs. It’s one of the reasons our internal temperature is warm and it’s one of the reasons we get a fever in the presence of bacteria. Our body increases the temperature inside the body to try to burn or kill off whatever the bug is we’re fighting, so when we are constantly using our thermostat, it confuses the immune system a little bit.”
In addition to fiddling with the thermostat, the environmental changes can affect the immune system as well. “When people have allergies that usually leads to some sort of inflammation in the sinuses or the airways. That inflammation makes us more susceptible to picking up a bug that we’re exposed to,” says Matluck.
So what's a bride to do? Here are six ways to help boost your immune system during the changing seasons, plus what to do if you end up catching that seasonal sickness.
The best way to keep your immune system up all year round is to stick to what Matluck calls the “nuts and bolts” of a healthy lifestyle. This includes getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, exercising, and eating a fruit-and-vegetable-rich diet. “Anatomically the immune system is very close to the gut, so if we’re not eating well and our diets are full of junk food or preservatives, it can lead to a lack of integrity in the lining of the gut,” Matluck explains. “When that happens, the immune system is usually the first thing to be affected so diet is huge here in regards to maintaining a strong healthy immune system.”
This might be a tough one for brides in wedding planning mode, but reducing stress is a great way to avoid getting sick during seasonal changes. “We’ve all had that experience where you have a deadline or vacation coming and you’re burning the candle at both ends. Then—bam!—you get sick," says Matluck. "That’s because stress impacts our immune system. Our defenses are down, so [it's important] to support oneself in regards to stress management.” She recommends a good night's sleep, treating yourself to a massage, breath work, and meditation.
For immune boosting supplements, vitamin C, echinacea, and astragalus are all great herbal remedies. They serve as natural solutions for fighting the common cold, although Matluck doesn’t recommend taking them long-term as a preventative measure.
While letting nature take its course is best in most situations, that kind of patience might be hard to come by if you're suddenly sick the week of your wedding. When you need to shake something fast, try taking nutrients intravenously. Services like Clean Market and Drip Doctors administer immune-boosting IVs that will hit your bloodstream faster than oral medications. Matluck says to ask for the Myers Cocktail, which is full of vitamin C, B12, and magnesium.
If you’re feeling stuffy, Matluck recommends using a neti pot. The nasal rinsing tool is perfect for hydrating the sinuses since when the membranes are dry, "we are more prone to viral particles or bacteria particles sticking to the sinus," Matluck explains. "A neti pot is a great way to just kind of flush it out.”
If you do find yourself sick—it happens to the best of us—Matluck says to take recovery seriously. She advises to you stay home and rest as much as possible. Letting your body properly go into recovery mode will allow you to get better faster.