With kids back in school, flu season is top of mind for many parents. The first snowfall combined with the sugar rush of Halloween sets many of us up for a spate of colds and viruses that come and go through the fall and winter months. While you can’t prevent viruses from making their appearance, there are simple strategies to help bolster your immune system.

Here are 5 tips for the whole family to stay healthy this fall.

Focus on healthy eating

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Limiting highly processed foods and consuming a nutrient-rich diet is the key to keeping your immune system in check. A healthy diet is primarily composed of whole foods – think vegetables, nuts, beans, fruits, seeds, whole grains, and additional protein sources. Visit Canada’s Food Guide for recipe ideas and tips on healthy eating for the whole family.

Drink more water

Your body is made up of about 60 percent water. A mere five percent drop in water levels in the body causes a 25 percent loss of energy and can cause your metabolism to slow down. Some effects of dehydration include hunger, poor digestion, bloating, joint pain, high blood pressure and the list goes on. Make sure to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water each day to feel your very best. Kids should be drinking 5-7 glasses of water every day!

Get enough vitamin D

Once thought as the vitamin for strong bones, vitamin D actually does a lot more for your body – including support your immune system. Studies suggest that vitamin D can help prevent respiratory infections or reduce the severity of them, especially if you have a deficiency. When fall arrives, daylight — a major source of vitamin D — is less available. That’s why it’s important to either take a supplement or eat a varied diet in order to maintain appropriate vitamin D levels through the fall and winter months. Fish oil, salmon and tuna are a few ways to get your vitamin D. Talk to your doctor to find out if you should be supplementing with vitamin D to enhance your overall immune response.

Move your body

Being physically active has lots of benefits for the entire family. Physical activity releases endorphins in your body – making you feel calm, less anxious and happier. It also lowers your risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Research shows that when it comes to boosting your immunity, 60 minutes or less of moderate-intensity physical activity each day is best. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week and kids should accumulate at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Even 10 minutes of physical activity each day has been proven to make a difference!

Get enough sleep

Scientific research makes it clear that sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system at any age. The repair of cells and tissues and the balancing of hormones, which are responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system, occurs primarily while sleeping between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, and people over 65 should get 7 to 8 hours per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. If you or a member of your family is having trouble falling or staying asleep, consider talking to a healthcare professional who can assess your sleep and medical history and get you on the right path to better sleep.

Book your virtual doctor visit today

If you would like to speak with an Ontario doctor about your healthcare needs, visit www.tuliphealth.ca. Tulip Health is a virtual, phone-based, walk-in clinic that provides non-emergency related healthcare. Our doctors are also trained to assess mental health concerns and make the appropriate recommendations or referrals to specialists. Tulip Health offers same-day or next-day appointments any day of the week. It’s easy to use and it’s covered by OHIP. To book an appointment, visit www.tuliphealth.ca.