With the onset of winter, the cold weather usually means flu season. The stressful day-to-day lives that we lead with very little down time, eating on the go and trying to exercise in-between, our bodies seem to get worn down in the colder weather and our immune systems tend to be lower. It is better to be proactive about staying healthy instead of just curing the illness once we have been inflicted. Step we can take to boost our immune systems and help ward off unwanted viruses include eating correctly, taking supplements and making some lifestyle changes. However, if you are unfortunate to contract an illness, having a stronger immune system can shorten its duration and speed up the recovery time. Below is a list of immune system boosters to help you get started.
Vitamin C is important to boost the immune system, among other benefits. It can be found in fruits and vegetables, although boosting your strength with a supplement is recommended during the winter months. Citrus fruits, peppers, guavas, kale, kiwi, papaya, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes are some of the fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C.
There has been a lot of evidence pointing to Vitamin D playing a role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. Low Vitamin D levels have resulted in an impaired immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, flu and other respiratory infections. In a randomized control study of 430 children ages 6-15, half were given 1,200 IUs of Vitamin D daily and the other half a placebo. The children were monitored for three months, during which time 18 children who took Vitamin D contracted influenza compared with 31 in the placebo group. If you can’t get your Vitamin D fill from the sun, take supplements to boost your system.
Dark chocolate has been touted as having a number of health benefits, including cardiovascular and stress reducing properties, which impacts your immune system. This refers to chocolate with a high cacao count of at least 70% and a low sugar content. The darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao volume and the more bitter but healthier it is. Try and avoid chocolate that is high in sugar and fat, such as milk chocolate which is delicious to eat but is no more beneficial to you than drinking a soda.
Getting that first cup of coffee boost may be necessary to jump start your day, but after that initial cup switch to drinking green tea for the rest of the day. It is packed with anti-oxidants that can help keep the flu infection away and maintain a healthy immune system. Strong immune systems are better at fighting infections than a compromised system.
Tumeric contains curcumin which gives the spice a bold yellow color and contains antioxidant properties. It has been shown to boost the immune system, helping to prevent the onset of illnesses such as flu. It is also a well known anti-inflammatory and acts as a pain reliever, especially with regards to arthritis. Turmeric can be added to your food or taken as a supplement.
There is an idea that as long as you do not become intoxicated very often, drinking in moderation is healthy for you. Alcohol can weaken your immune defenses, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Women should not drink more than one alcoholic drink a day and men no more than two.
Besides the harmful effects of smoke from smoking cigarettes, nicotine is a harmful substance that diminishes the positive effects of Vitamin C and suppresses the immune system by depressing antibodies and cells that protect against foreign invaders. There is also an association between smoking and upper respiratory infections. It takes longer for a smoker to recover from infections such as influenza, as opposed to non-smokers. The good news is that quitting smoking can reverse some of the negative effects on your health and it is worth the struggle to stop.
Our immune systems are designed to protect us and keep out foreign invaders. However, if we do not get adequate rest, our immune systems cannot function properly and do the job of protecting us from illnesses. The strength of our immune system is not only important in warding off illnesses, including colds and influenza, but how well our body is able to fight the disease and recover. If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from insomnia, take action to improve your sleep habits and help strengthen your immune system.
One of the mainstays of good health is to exercise. Exercise helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways which could reduce your risk of catching a cold or flu. It also benefits your body overall; from improving cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure and reducing obesity, to slowing down the release of stress hormones which could help reduce the risk of contracting certain illnesses.
There is no doubt that various lifestyle changes, reducing stress, exercising and eating the correct diet all go hand in hand to strengthen your body and reduce your risk of getting sick. Especially in the winter, it is important to stay on top of our health and take the necessary precautions to prevent ourselves from succumbing to an illness rather than trying to build our immune systems up once we are already sick. Take note and take action, in the long run, it is definitely worth it.