Winter is almost here and the flu season is upon us so now is the time to build up your immune system to help keep you healthy during this time. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you keep your immune system in shape.

* Exercise. Even though the days are getting colder and shorter it’s not a time to become a couch potato. Winter is definitely a time for slowing down and rejuvenating before the spring time but exercise still needs to be a part of your daily lifestyle. This will keep your lymph system moving, which plays a vital role in immunity. Gentle activities like walking, yoga and tai chi are perfect.

* Rest. Just as many animals hibernate during winter, it is a time for us to rest and replenish our stores. Getting adequate amounts of sleep has many health benefits, including allowing your body to rebuild and repair, allowing you to keep any bugs at bay.

* Reduce stress. Stress is very depleting on the immune system, especially when it is long term. During times of stress our adrenal glands work hard to produce cortisol which to allows us to cope. Cortisol suppresses the immune system and over time we can become far more susceptible to colds, flus and other illnesses. Try yoga, meditation, massage (great for the lymph system also), reading a book, taking a bath or any other activity that will help you release stress.

* Nutrients. As winter approaches the food you eat needs to be warmer and heartier to keep your body warm, but keep it nutrient rich. Cook stews, casseroles and roasts with loads of vegetables (especially root vegetables), garlic, ginger, beans and lentils.

* Vitamin D. More and more research is being conducted into the importance of vitamin D. One clear benefit is on our immune system. The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun, so getting out into the winter sunshine is important. It can also be supplemented if sun exposure is insufficient.

* Acai berries. One of the richest known sources of potent flavonoid antioxidants, called anthocyanins. Acai berries are naturally high in vitamins and minerals, essential amino acids (protein), dietary fibre, phytonutrients and essential fatty acids (EFA’s); omegas 3, 6 and 9.

* Green tea. Full of antioxidants, green tea is a great way to keep warm and help your immunity.

* Supplements. There are many options for immune boosting supplements available. Just some of these are:

* Zinc – supports the immune system and protects against free-radicals

* Vitamins A, C, E – all anti-oxidants

* Garlic – a powerful immune booster
* Olive Leaf Extract – enhances immune function

* Echinacea – for immune support

If you would like to boost your anti-oxidant intake Acai Premium Fresh is 100% pure freeze dried, raw, wild harvest Acai berry powder. It is available in both powdered sachets and capsule form from Optimal Learning Centre.

There are many other supplements that you can use for your immune system during this time. If you have any questions speak to a naturopath at your local health food store regarding your individual needs.