Let’s face it… changes of seasons can be pleasant, but they can also throw various monkey wrenches at our bodily systems, particularly with mood and immunity. We may experience a change in energy level, various allergic responses, and/or a shift in feelings of well-being.
A brief synopsis of some ongoing research relating to seasonal changes and our physiology include the following;
- Evaluation of brain activation by season, such as attention and memory (Meyer, et al, 2016).
- Assessment of DNA activity and changing biochemistry across different seasons with regards inflammatory and immune responses, particularly pending cold and flu which tends to follow seasonal patterns (Dopico, et al, 2015).
- Supportive research for a seasonally based change in the way our metabolism mechanizes, particularly in late summer to early fall when winter is pending. This facet is detailed by Betul Hatipoglu, MD in this Cleveland Clinic article (2015).
Bottom line, the immune system performs a pretty important job and, to keep immune responses up to par and favorable, there is an array of sequential tasks being carried out within the body on a regular basis. While researchers are still studying these various facets of human biochemistry with respect to seasonal changes, there is general support for maintaining a proactive healthful lifestyle approach that favorably boosts the immune system which can mediate severity of these varied responses.
Lifestyle focus is, of course, appropriate nutrition supportive for seasonal changes. In addition to adequate intake of healthful fats, like a tasty Good Fat Bar, and Omega-3’s, one easy opportunity is the phytonutrient smorgasbord available via fall farmers’ markets. (There is also value in the well-being oriented experience of attending them!)
Inadequate nutrient intake can actually suppress the immune system and lead to improper antibody levels (Maggini, Wintergerst, Beveridge, & Hornig, 2007). Micronutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc maintain a healthful immune system (Merz, 2016). In addition, antioxidants, through anti-inflammatory properties, regulate immune cell processes to help ensure optimal functionality. For a more extensive view of the role of nutritional elements and the immune system, go to Micronutrients and the immune system post.
As we shift into a new season, it’s quite relevant to place emphasis on nutrient intake. Look for colorful options across purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues when food shopping. Specific fall options can be found in this guide from the spruce Eats. Also be sure to fill in with other healthful options such as well-sourced seafood, nuts, and seeds.
Finally, other tips for a healthful immune system are to keep up a good level of daily movement, get some fresh air, maintain awareness for various psychological responses, and ensure adequate rest and sleep.
Ashley runs a lifestyle health coaching service centered on evidence-based behavioral change and systematized approaches from integrative health services and healthcare. She includes functional health assessment tools that support setting more clear, realistic goals that are tailored to each client. She appreciates the products and mission of Good Fat Company due to the emphasis on whole-food, nutrition-rich products without processed additives or fillers. Also, that the product line is applicable across dietary spectrums from vegan to paleo and most anywhere in between. Further information can be found at www.ashleylarnold.com.
Dopico, X.C., et al. (2015, May 12). Widespread Seasonal Gene Expression Reveals Annual Differences in Human Immunity and Physiology. Nature Communications 6(7000).
Hatipoglu, B. (2015, Dec 10). Hibernation Mode Slows Metabolism During Fall and Winter Seasons. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/12/10/hibernation-mode-slows-metabolism-during-fall-and-winter-seasons.
Maggini, S., Wintergerst, E.S., Beveridge, S., & Hornig, D.S. (2007, Oct). Selected Vitamins and Trace Elements Support Immune Function by Strengthening Epithelial Barriers and Cellular and Humoral Immune Responses. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(Suppl 1), S29-35.
Merz, B. (2016, Sep). Micronutrients Have a Major Impact on Health, Foods to Boost Your Immune System and Increase Vitamin and Mineral Intake. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/micronutrients-have-major-impact-on-health.
Meyer, C., et al. (2016, Mar 15). Seasonality in Human Cognitive Brain Response. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(11), 3066-3071.
Nutri-facts (2014, Feb 1). Micronutrients and the Immune System. Retrieved from https://www.nutri-facts.org/en_US/news/micronutrients-and-the-immune-system.html.
Watson, M. (2018, Jun 8). What’s In Season In Fall? Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/fall-fruits-and-vegetables-2217704.