Hello, I’m Dr. Chad Larson, and I want to help you prepare your immune system for the upcoming winter season. As we approach winter, we not only face the usual flu season but also the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. This could potentially result in a “twindemic” of viral illnesses. To protect ourselves, we need to support our immune system through various means that align with our body’s natural defense mechanisms. Let’s explore some simple and effective strategies that can help you stay healthy during this critical time.

At the top of the list is sleep. I don’t think there’s anything that’s more of a Swiss army knife for your health, and certainly for your immune system. There’s just no shortcut for it. You have to get the proper amount of sleep. And the proper amount does vary from person to person. On average, it’s said that seven to eight hours is the adequate amount of sleep time for most people. But then there’s also the quality of sleep. Some of the other topics I’ll hit on here influence that. And one of those is the next item on my list, which is stress management.

-Dr. Chad Larson

Prioritize Sleep for Stress Management

Stress management is integral to a resilient immune system, and it begins with a good night’s sleep. In fact, just three nights of poor sleep can trigger excessive stress responses in your body, making sleep a fundamental pillar of well-being. Adequate sleep enhances not only stress resilience but also immune function. Therefore, ensure you get quality and sufficient sleep to fortify your defenses.

Exercise: A Form of Hormesis

Exercise is another potent tool for managing stress and enhancing immune resilience. The concept of hormesis, or introducing controlled stressors to bolster your body’s ability to handle stress, applies here. Exercise challenges your cardiovascular system and muscles, raising your stress threshold. Regular physical activity improves overall resilience and helps you better cope with life’s stressors.

Diet Matters

Your diet can either stress or nourish your system. High-sugar and processed foods are internal stressors that disrupt your body’s balance, leading to increased cortisol and adrenaline levels. These fluctuations can significantly impact your immune function. Instead, opt for an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, greens, sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, onions, and mushrooms, as well as vibrant, deeply colored fruits and root vegetables. Include a healthy source of animal protein and prioritize good fats like coconut oil and avocado oil. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, especially salmon and deep-water fish, are also immune-supporting powerhouses.

Connect with Nature

Even as the weather cools, spending time outdoors remains vital. Nature offers a rejuvenating environment that supports your overall well-being. Fresh air and sunlight, when available, can invigorate your immune system. Whether it’s a brisk walk in the park or a leisurely stroll through a forest, reconnecting with nature benefits both your physical and mental health.


Hydration plays a crucial role in supporting your immune system. Mucosal immunity, a significant part of your body’s defense, relies on proper hydration. The mucous membranes in your body are primarily composed of water, making adequate hydration essential. A well-hydrated body helps maintain healthy mucous membranes, reducing the risk of pathogens finding entry through dry or compromised pathways.

Mind Your Alcohol and Sugar Intake

The upcoming winter season often brings with it indulgent treats and alcohol. While it’s tempting to overindulge, it’s essential to exercise restraint. Excessive alcohol and sugar intake can suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses. Be mindful of your consumption, especially when you’re around people you don’t regularly interact with during the holiday season. Remember that moderation is key to supporting your immune system.

Supplements for Added Protection

In addition to these lifestyle strategies, consider incorporating supplements known to enhance immunity. High-quality vitamin C and vitamin D are essential, with the latter’s dosage determined by individual needs, often assessed through lab tests. Vitamin A is also crucial for immune health.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement worth considering. It provides cysteine, a building block for glutathione, a vital anti-inflammatory substance for your cells. Additionally, NAC exhibits an affinity for the lungs and can help break up excess mucus, further supporting respiratory health.

Also, Omega-3 fatty acids, obtainable through fish oil supplements, offer anti-inflammatory benefits for your entire system. Likewise, Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, has demonstrated effectiveness against certain viruses, making it a valuable addition to your supplement regimen.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

A thriving gut microbiome is a cornerstone of a robust immune system. While probiotic supplements have their merits, consider integrating probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi are excellent choices. Coconut-based yogurts can also provide probiotics without the dairy concerns associated with traditional yogurt.

To nourish your probiotics, consume prebiotic-rich foods such as onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and jicama. These foods support the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, reinforcing your immune defenses.

As winter approaches, these strategies can help you bolster your immune system, ensuring you enter the season with confidence. Your health and well-being are paramount, and by implementing these practices, you empower yourself to stay resilient in the face of seasonal challenges. Stay informed, make conscious choices, and embrace the winter season with a fortified immune system. Keep it real, and prioritize your health this winter.


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N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)


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