Winter is fast approaching and with the colder temperatures and the darker nights comes the seemingly inevitable coughs and sniffles! But there are a number of ways to boost your immune system and give yourself the best chance of fighting off bugs this winter.
1) Eat Right
The best way to boost your immune system is to ditch the processed foods and switch to eating a variety of natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. And avoid refined sugar – some studies show that it depresses immune activity.
There are also specific foods that are particularly good for boosting your immune system, such as garlic, elderberries, cabbage, mushrooms, broccoli, almonds, grapefruit, spinach and sweet potato. Some spices are also immune-boosting, such as turmeric.
2) Stay Hydrated
For your immune system to work properly (well, for your body to work properly in general!), you need sufficient moisture, so it’s important to stay hydrated. So drink plenty of water!
3) Get Enough Sleep
Your body repairs and rejuvenates itself when you’re asleep, so you need to make sure you’re getting enough of it! Avoiding caffeine or alcohol close to bed time, keeping your bedroom at a comfortable temperature and getting regular exercise can all help to improve sleep. Also, make sure you stop looking at your TV and your smartphone around 40 minutes before you go to bed. They emit ‘blue light’ which disrupts the chemical in the body which promotes sleep.
4) Get Outdoors
It might seem like the last thing you want to do as the temperatures start dropping, but being outside in natural surroundings, like going for a walk in the woods or heading to the coast, is good for our mental wellbeing, which in turn can have a positive impact on our physical health. For example, research suggests that having a positive outlook can help boost your immune system. Exercise also boosts your immune system, so if you can exercise outdoors, you’re on to a winner!
5) Wash Your Hands
One of the easiest ways of preventing the spread of coughs, colds and stomach bugs is through good hand hygiene. Everybody knows that you need to wash your hands after you’ve been to the toilet, though some research suggests that half of all men and a quarter of women don’t! You should also wash your hands before and after eating and when you come back home after an outing (as you will have been touching things a lot of other people have touched like door handles). You also need to wash your hands each time you cough or sneeze. And that doesn’t mean a quick rinse under the tap! You need to wash your hands for around the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice and there is also a technique to it. The World Health Organisation has produced a diagram to show people the best way to wash their hands, so check it out! It’ll boost your own immunity and other people’s too!