3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

Cold and flu season seems to be upon us already so, if you want to stay healthy this autumn and winter, it's time to give your immune system a boost.

We all have times when we could use a little extra boost to our immune system and those long winter months of being stuck indoors with central heating on are just that time.

Read on for three simple things you can do daily to strengthen your immune system. Yep, for best results, implement daily.

1. Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables 

Changing your diet for the better is a fast change to make and it will start to show benefits almost immediately.

To make your immune system as robust as possible make your intake of fruit and vegetables as high as possible.

Forget the 5 a day message, you should be aiming for 8-10 portions per day plus.

It may be a cliche, but you really are what you eat.

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to maximise the immune-boosting potential and eat a rainbow of colours every day, as differently coloured veg and fruit contain different combinations of vitamins.

And try to vary your intake of plants as much as possible. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds and pulses is essential.

Recent research has found that people who consume at least 30 different plant-based foods each week have a higher diversity of microbes in their gut.

This diverse gut biome may contribute to improved overall health and well-being.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables will also supply more of the micronutrients we need to keep our immune system running.

With an unhealthy diet, your immune system will be weaker and unable to deal with viruses as efficiently as it might. 

All systems of the body work best when they are properly fed, including the immune system.

Stick to a mainly whole foods based diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to head into virus season strong.

And avoid eating processed foods as much as possible.

It takes a lot of time and effort to digest them and you don’t want to weigh your body down with extra work when that energy could be used to boost your immune system, keep you from getting sick, or help you get well sooner.

Remember that most people in northern climates need a daily vitamin D supplement too.

Top Fruits and Vegetables That Help Your Immune System

We all know eating lots of fruit and vegetables is vital to help us stay as healthy as possible.

They can also help boost your immune system considerably, but which are the best for us?

Hands down the number one boost for your immune system is citrus fruit.

Oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit are a great source of vitamin C and the perfect boost for your immune system.

If you feel like you might be a little under the weather or suspect that you may have come into contact with someone sick, increasing your intake of Vitamin C may help as well.

Eat extra citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and kale and add a high dose supplement too.

Garlic is also a great way to boost health and the chemicals it contains can strengthen your immune system.

Garlic can also help to keep your blood pressure low and your heart healthy.

Peppers (bell peppers) are amazing at giving you additional vitamin C too. In fact, they’ve been found to contain almost double the amount of the vitamin that citrus has!

Eat them raw in a salad or as a snack, or add them cooked to most dishes. Ditto with tomatoes of all shapes and varieties.

Beta-carotene is one of the most important chemicals that your body uses to produce the cells in your body that will go on to fight diseases, so having enough of it is very important.

Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, canteloups, broccoli and spinach are all wonderful sources of it, so incorporate them into your daily diet as often as possible too.

Finally, beans and seeds are great sources of zinc, an element that your body also uses to create white blood cells.

Snack on sunflower or pumpkin seeds or add them to your meals, and prepare lots of dishes based on different types of beans.

2. Get Some Exercise 

In addition to eating well, getting outside for fresh air and regular exercise is crucial.

For best results, work out in the fresh air rather than in a stuffy air conditioned gym.

Gentle exercise such as yoga or jogging can help to boost your immune system, and will also help reduce stress levels and aid relaxation.

Spending some time each day exercising, and some time relaxing, such as with a simple meditation, will have a positive effect on your immune system.

If you can exercise with friends all the better, as people who have close relationships with friends and family have stronger immune systems than loners.

Even something as simple as a daily walk can help you stay well and strengthen your body and your immune system.

Walking also has the added benefit of helping you to de-stress.

You are far more likely to get sick when you are stressed out, so use daily exercise to destress, boost your immune system and stay well.

3. Make Time for Sleep 

Getting enough sleep is essential to give your immune system a big boost.

Make the time to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and make sure you sleep well by practicing good sleep hygiene.

That simply means turning off your phone and other screens a few hours before bed, and keeping your bedroom calm, quiet, and at a temperature that encourages sleep.

Avoid caffeinated drinks for at least three hours before bed and try to create a calming bedtime routine to encourage sleep.

As an added bonus, you’ll feel more energized for everything else you have to do all day!

The Importance of Sleep to Help Your Body Fight Colds and Flu This Season 

Making sure you get plenty of good quality sleep can serve as a sort of insurance policy.

It strengthens your immune system and helps your body fight off any type of infection or threat that comes its way.

In addition, if you get plenty of rest, your body will be able to heal itself faster should you happen come down with something.

That’s why plenty of rest and fluids is recommended when you have a cold.

But why exactly is sleep so important both to boost the immune system to avoid getting sick in the first place - and during the recovery period if you do get sick?

Your immune system uses antibodies to fight an infection.

At the end of the day, it works the same whether you’re preventing an infection from taking hold or fighting one off that’s taken enough of a hold to make you feel unwell.

These antibodies stick to the virus and affect cells, rendering them ineffective.

The virus-antibody combo can then be eliminated, which is why it is important that you drink plenty of fluids. It makes it easier for your body to flush them out.

At the same time, your body produces antibodies more effectively while you sleep. 

While you're asleep, your immune system can work more efficiently at producing antibodies and deploying them throughout the body to fight the infection.

So keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted to burn the candle at both ends, and use it as motivation to stay home and take a nap instead of heading into work when you’re coming down with something.

What’s the Fastest Way to Boost Your Immune System?

Whilst we know we should be maintaining our immune system all the time, many of us wait until things start going wrong or we're facing an onslaught of viruses before we do something about it.

So just how can we get our immune systems up and running as fast as possible?

There are lots of things that you can do in order to boost your immune system quickly, though some of them take some time to make a considerable difference.

There’s not one guaranteed way to get your immune system boosted overnight, but by doing multiple immune boosting things at oncee, it should get the boost you need quickly. 

The first thing that you can do to rapidly improve your immune system is to change your sleep schedule.

This can be done in one night, and the effects of it will come about within a few days of maintaining a good sleep schedule. 

Without proper sleep, your body can’t carry out many of the important functions that it needs to for your immune system.

As we said above, be sure to get around 8 hours of good quality sleep per night in order to keep your immune system running strong.

Another way to swiftly improve your immune system is to reduce your alcohol consumption.

Those who are prone to heavy or consistent drinking have been shown to have seriously compromised immune systems, but the damage done to those immune systems is reversible. 

By cutting back significantly, you can expect to see results in just a day or two.

In addition, remmeber those hygiene practices that were drummed into us a few years ago: wash your hands thoroughly, refraining from touching your face, and keeping surfaces clean is the key to keeping viruses and bacteria out of your body.

By denying them any initial entry to begin with, you can give your immune system less work to do. 

Keep an eye on your stress levels too. Stress can negatively affect your immune system.

Your muscles tense and your heart rate increases with anxiety which makes your body work harder.

Take a deep breath and practice relaxation.

Meditation, both guided and non-guided, can be a great way to monitor and reduce your stress levels.

Listen to your favourite music, practice some self care or a favourite hobby, watch a film or TV show that makes you laugh, or take a nap after lunch.

Be kind to your mind and your body.

The best way to keep your immune system healthy is to consistently maintain these practices.

If you just boost your immune system every time you start to feel sick or start to get worried, you’re likely still going to get infected every now and then. 

Healthy habits are essential to a healthy and happy life. It’s never too late to start them!

Not Just an Old Wives Tale?

Maybe Granny was right! Recent findings suggeest that catching a cold may actually be down to not wrapping up warm.  Well, sort of.

Whilst colds are of course viral, it seems cold viruses may find it easier to bypass the body's natural defence mechanisms in your upper airway if you breathe them in with cold air.

So wearing a scarf over your mouth and nose when it's cold outside could help prevent you from catching colds.

It's a great excuse to wrap up warm and cosy anyway!

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