With winter cold and flu season upon us, it is a good time to nail down immune boosting habits to ward off the ills of winter-time germs. The following tips can help keep you free of illness throughout the coming season. Here are 10 Ways To Boost Your Immune System:
1) Handy hygiene: Washing hands regularly is a great first step to beating the flu season. Beyond keeping hands clean, good hand hygiene habits include reducing hand contact with others (i.e. hand shakes) and avoiding unnecessarily touching your mouth, eyes and nose.
2) Stay Hydrated: Ensure you are taking in enough water and fluids to maintain hydration status. Dehydration can increase susceptibility to illness and infection and increasing fluid intake with early symptoms of infection can help shorten the course of illness.
3) Layer up: Keep core body temperatures warm by dressing appropriately for the weather as overexposure to cold can reduce immunity.
4) Sleep tight: Ensure you are getting adequate sleep. Most of us require 6 to 8 hours nightly. Sleep deprivation and insomnia have been associated with increased risk of infection.
5) Stress less: Put in place a well honed stress management system to keep daily life stressors at bay. While there is no magic bullet to eliminate stress, integrating stress reducing techniques like mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing can help you better cope. High perceived stress levels are associated with reduced immunity and increased risk of infection and disease.
6) Clear the passage: Chronic congestion of facial sinuses and nose may require additional drainage efforts throughout wintertime flu season to prevent flares. Sinus rinses and nasal sprays are available without a prescription and work by flushing out and hydrating the sinuses and nasal cavities to reduce infection.
7) Eat Colourfully well: The food colour wheel is used to represent fruits and vegetables across the colour spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, purple, blue, white) that offer a full range of phytonutrients. Many of these colour rich fruits and vegetables such as kale, kiwis, bell peppers, papayas, and tomatoes provide more vitamin C than oranges and offer up phytonutrients that work in a complimentary fashion to support immune function and reduce inflammation.
8) Smart Supplements: While a colourful diet may be the foundation of good health, the fork may not always be enough. Several immune boosting nutrients are not readily available in the diet and when taken as a supplement can bolster immunity. These nutrients include zinc, selenium, omega 3 and vitamins A B C and D and herbal immune extracts such as astragalus, rhodiola, quercetin, turmeric, ginseng, and green tea can further help ward off infection and shorten the course of illness if flu symptoms are setting in.
9) Get moving: Regular aerobic exercise can help to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage lowering risk of infection. Facials and lymphatic drainage massage can stimulate blood flow and get lymphatics moving.
10) Vaccinate: The flu vaccine is one of the most potent ways to reduce the likelihood of having severe symptoms. It needs to be repeated annually as the formulation is updated to protect from the most prevalent strains each year. For those who are considered to be high risk or are over 65 years of age, a pneumonia vaccine is recommended.
These ten immune bolstering tips are intended to arm you to beat out the flu this season and stay healthy and vibrant. And despite the many ways lifestyle can impact immunity, it is important to get vaccinated and seek medical care if flu-like symptoms are persisting or bogging you down.