As winter grows near, we’re looking forward to celebrating holidays with family and friends, and lazy evenings spent cozying up in front of the fire with a good book. What we’re not looking forward to, however, is the worst part of the colder months—cold and flu season.
While there is no magic cure-all to prevent getting sick, the good news is that boosting your immune system is easier than you think. Here are four simple ways to improve your immunity this winter:
Bolstering your immune system requires a well-rounded approach—and getting plenty of exercise is a key aspect of your defense strategy. During physical activity, immune cells circulate more quickly, which improves your body’s ability to kill bacteria and viruses. With moderate daily exercise, your sick days may be reduced by up to 50 per cent.
To see results, you don’t have to train for a marathon. Staying active can start small and be as simple as going for a daily walk or signing up for a hot yoga class. As an added bonus, the meditative aspect of yoga also helps battle to infections—in 2003, researchers from Harvard and the University of Wisconsin found that those who meditated produced more flu-fighting antibodies than those who didn’t.
Similarly, prioritize going to bed at a regular time. Your body relies on regular, good quality sleep to fight off unwarranted intruders. After all, there’s a reason why sleep is our first response when we do get sick.
As funny as it sounds, your diet can determine whether you have to call in sick on Monday. Many foods contain antibacterial or antiviral properties—and there are countless lots of options to choose from. As a start, Harvard Medical School advises seeking out foods rich in Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, D, E and Zinc.
Some of o2Living’s favourites, which we use in our cold-pressed juices, include lemon (high in Vitamin C, it defends against bacterial infections), raw ginger (a powerful antioxidant), carrots(which supports your immune system) and organic leafy green vegetables (which are naturally packed with important vitamins and minerals).
Although germs are contagious, avoiding other people entirely isn’t your best line of defense. When you isolate yourself, you’re actually suppressing the functions of your immune system and its ability to produce antibodies in response to viruses.
So get offline and meet your best girlfriend for a flu-fighting raw food meal. Better yet, call up an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while—in one study, people with more diverse social connections were four times more likely to be able to fight off colds.
When it comes to your health, attitude is everything. Stress levels have long been linked to the functions of the immune system, which is it’s important to focus on being present and the value of practicing gratitude in your everyday life.
Finally, remember that it’s not just a turn of phrase—laughter truly is the best medicine. Studies have demonstrated that it increases immune system activity, making it just what the doctor ordered.