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Pump Up Your Immune System This Winter If You Have Diabetes

With the drop in temperatures comes a rise in infections, especially in people with diabetes. Although winter is not quite here yet, learn what you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick.

  • Get moving. As lovely as it would be to stay in bed on a dark winter morning, opt for some immune-boosting exercise instead. For example, taking a 20-minute, fast-paced walk as few as three times per week can help support immune function, making it less likely that you’ll catch whatever bug is going around. Exercise also helps keep blood sugar levels in check, increases insulin sensitivity, lowers blood pressure, and helps you maintain a healthy weight—all good things for people with diabetes.
  • Stress less. Chronic stress from work, relationships, or illness can send immune health into a downward spiral. Stress can also lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can increase your risk of getting sick. Make sure to find your “happy place” during cold and flu season: give yoga a try, enjoy a warm bath, read that book languishing on your shelf, or connect with a friend. Remember: you don’t have to earn your down time; keeping stress in check is just as important for managing your diabetes as good nutrition is.
  • Eat the rainbow. To help keep your immune system in prime shape, eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables. These foods—like red and yellow peppers, dark-skinned berries, kiwi, collard greens, and butternut squash—are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, which may help shorten the length and severity of the common cold. While fresh produce might be harder to find in the winter months, you can always count on the freezer aisle to supply what you need.
  • Soup it up. Your mother was right when she pushed that bowl of soup under your nose when you were sick. The warm stock (also called bone broth) used to make soup may help loosen respiratory secretions, making it easier to cough and blow them out. To up your soup game, try adding in chopped onions, garlic, and shiitake, maitake, or reishi mushrooms, all of which can help boost soup's immune-enhancing effects.
  • Get your sleep. Experts agree that most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimal health. The body repairs itself during sleep, and untreated chronic sleep disorders can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and obesity. To help get a night of restful sleep, exercise during the day, don’t drink caffeinated beverages after noon, and shut off cell phones and other electronic devices. Light from these devices inhibits the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.

Source: American Diabetes Association

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