No doubt you know at least one person who manages to stay healthy, even when everyone around them is coughing, sneezing, and feeling miserable. If you’ve ever wondered what they’re doing that you’re not, you’re about to find out. We reveal top tips to help you dodge colds, flu, and other common ailments. Read on to pick up some healthy immune boosting habits…
Get plenty of sleep: Getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night is key. Sleep experts agree that getting plenty of shut-eye is vital for a strong immune system. In fact, research shows that people who sleep only 5 to 6 hours a night have a 30% chance of catching a cold when exposed to the virus; those who get more than 7 hours reduce their risk to 17%.
Control stress: It’s been proven to weaken the immune system, yet it’s impossible to avoid. So your goal should be to manage stress in a healthy way. Work hard on controlling your responses to stressors through exercise, daily meditation, visualisations, and affirmations. Our Mindful Yoga sessions are a great place to start – join Jenny on Tuesday’s at 11am.
Honey, lemon and ginger: If you are starting to feel achy and stuffy, try this traditional remedy to help you get back on track. High in vitamin C, lemon keeps the immune system strong and neutralises the free radicals in your body which helps reduce the inflammation and swelling. Ginger helps you sweat out the toxins in your body, which is helpful when you have a cold or flu. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats. Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an effective and natural cough suppressant. This improves the body’s ability to fight infection and decreases the risk of fevers. The natural sweetness of honey also balances the tartness of the lemon and the ginger’s spice, giving honey, lemon and ginger tea its soothing flavor. Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg or cardamom at the end for a warm spice flavor.
Regular exercise: Want extra cold and flu protection? Lace up your sneakers. Regular exercise strengthens the immune system and makes you less likely to catch upper respiratory infections, according to a study in the Journal of Sport and Health Science. Regular moderate exercise can raise your protection against colds by as much as a third, but strenuous exercise may have the opposite effect – so don’t overdo it. A brisk, daily 20-minute walk may be all you need to stay sniffle free this winter. The reason your sweat session keeps colds at bay hinges on special immune cells called Natural Killers, which fight viral infections. During moderate bouts of exercise, your body produces more of these special immunity cells.
Know when to power down: Try to nip illness in the bud. If you suspect that something might be coming on, don’t won’t work late and make sure you get more rest and sleep. All it takes is one day and you could be back to normal. A lot of people have a ‘I’ll fight through it’ mentality, and all that does is exacerbate it.
Fuel yourself with the right food: Eggs are rich in zinc, an immune system booster that can zap cold symptoms. Research shows that zinc taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms can shorten the duration of colds. Mushrooms, from button to shitake, are immune powerhouses. Mushrooms increase the effectiveness of white blood cells, the front liners of our immune system. Probiotics, which you’ll find in yogurt, are a cold sufferer’s best friend because they reduce the body’s inflammatory response. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the beneficial bacteria shortened the duration of a cold by two days and made symptoms 34% less severe. Eating a tub of yoghurt daily can reduce the chance of catching a cold by 25%. Sweet potatoes are also great as they are packed with vitamin A, an immune-boosting nutrient that helps the body produce virus-fighting white blood cells. Vitamin E and Selenium are two other immune boosting micronutrients you should include in your diet. Broccoli, brussel sprouts and almonds are all good sources of vitamin E and meat and poultry are rich in selenium.
Get a massage: Most studies show that massage can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate – and lowering these is likely to cause your stress level to drop, one key to building immunity. So go on, treat yourself!
Stay positive: In one study, participants who had heightened activity in a region of the brain associated with a positive attitude produced greater amounts of flu antibodies. Researchers aren’t clear on the connection, but they do know the brain communicates with the immune system, and vice versa. So try to always think positively, or at least learn to be less negative. Don’t dwell on your symptoms when you do get sick, and try not to assume the worst like telling yourself, “I always get sick this time of year.”