Do you ever get a sinking feeling thinking about the cooler months, knowing they are bound to bring some sort of cold or flu? The immune system is your body’s natural way to defend itself against bugs and prevent illness so by keeping it in top shape you better your chances of remaining flu-free, energised and feeling your best.
Here are our top 10 ways to naturally boost your immune system this winter:
1. Exercise as a family
We know it’s cold outside, but to keep your body functioning optimally, ensure you and your family exercise regularly. Regular activity can increase the amount of ‘killer cells’ in your body which search and attack viruses and bacteria, helping to keep your immune system in functioning at its best, plus it’s a great way to bond and have fun together. Try bike riding, backyard cricket, hiking or even do a fun-run together!
2. Get your 8 hours
Feeling tired and exhausted? Sleep deprivation can decrease the production of cells which work to destroy microbes and fight off illness. Make sure you and your family get the right amount of sleep each night (at least 8 hours) to ensure your body has enough energy to defend itself against illness.
3. Eat probiotic foods
Probiotics are fantastic at keeping your body and digestive system healthy, allowing your immune system to function smoothly. Fight bacteria with bacteria through eating yoghurt and fermented foods.
4. Eat Your Vitamins
Vitamin C, while maintaining a plump, youthful complexion also makes the spread of bacteria or viruses more difficult. The tightening of cells works to strengthen their membranes making sure only the good things can get through. This means your body can destroy the bacteria or virus before it can get any worse.
Vitamin A promotes a healthy mucous function, which helps to stop the entrance of bugs into the body. When this occurs, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to prevent illness.
Stress induces a toll on your body, whether long term or short term, and lowers the body’s ability to fight off illnesses. While some stress triggers are unavoidable, some are often manageable. Does your house become stressful in the mornings, with getting the kids ready for school packing lunches, answering phone calls etc? Take a few minutes the night before to pack bags, lay out clothes and get organised to start your day off on a relaxing note. Same with afternoons, being prepared and having a flexible routine, especially with kids is necessity to remain organised and therefore calm. We understand things don’t always go to plan so if you forget the school bake sale, didn’t respond to that email or burnt dinner – laugh it off! Things happen that don’t always go to plan, so just ask yourself ‘does this really matter?
6. Make friends with healthy fats
Omega 3 fatty acids are just what your body needs to maintain healthy cell membranes. This is important to stop the spread of viruses while working to create resistance to toxins, which may enter the body. It is recommended to eat foods high in omega three fatty acids every day, such as walnuts, chia seeds and salmon.
7. Stay Hydrated
Water enhances the production of lymph, which helps to transport immune cells around your body. Maintaining a smooth lymph function means your body can race to defend itself when viruses or bacteria enter. Try adding some freshly squeezed lemon juice to your water to enhance the flavour and boost your vitamin C intake.
8. Eat foods rich in Zinc
Zinc promotes function of the thymus gland, which helps to control your immune system. By consuming zinc in your diet, it enhances the production and activity of infection fighting cells (also known as white blood cells). This means your body can rush to destroy microbes such as a viruses before begins to show symptoms. High sources of zinc include beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils and spinach. Plus it’s fantastic for maintaing clear skin!
9. Season with garlic
A powerful immune booster, garlic is a rich source of phytonutrients and contains sulphur compounds that help to stimulate the production of white bloods cells as well as containing anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. Add garlic to a variety of dishes including mixed with a salad dressing or marinated over meat to give your immune system a boost.
10. Stay Balanced
The best way to stay healthy and control infection is to minimise stress by eating clean wholefood, exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep and make sure you balance out work, life and play. Recognise when you have met your limits and if you do become unwell to take time to rest and allow your body to recover.
Providing yourself and your family with a healthy lifestyle to ensure overall health and happiness, sets up lifelong healthy habits for your children.
Have you got any more tips, tricks or remedies for winter colds and flus? Share it with us in the comment section below or on our Facebook page!