They say that cold weather brings out the worst in people. Well, the same can be said of viruses! When temperatures drop, viruses become more active and take advantage of the opportunity to spread, leading to a rise in infections during fall and winter seasons. But there’s no need to worry – here are some simple steps you can take to boost your immune system and stay healthy all season long!
Immune system health.. the password for disease prevention
The immune system is in charge of protecting the body against infections and diseases that are caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses.
There are simple things we can do to improve our immune system, and in turn, resist diseases say doctors. Some of the most effective ways to do this are:
Regular exercise not only helps improve your overall health, but it also makes you less likely to catch a cold.
A 2011 study exploring the effects of lifestyle on upper respiratory infections followed 1,000 adults in North Carolina for three months. The researchers recorded information such as daily habits (diet, exercise, etc.), stress levels, previous infection history and current severity of symptoms for each participant.
The researchers’ discoveries show that the number one reason for people’s increased susceptibility to these diseases is a sedentary lifestyle.
Those who exercised at least once a week had better respiratory health overall, even if it was just for 20 minutes. In comparison, those who did no exercise fared the worst out of all groups.
The researchers explained that when you work out, it activates your immune cells which then go on the lookout for viral infections. This helps to identify and get rid of them before they can cause any damage.
Just a few minutes of moderate exercise per week is optimal for spreading immune cells throughout the body, they added.
2- The effect of “rest” on the immune system
However, we must remember that too much exercise can wear out the body and lower immunity, increasing the chances of getting sick.
If you’re noticing that recent workouts are starting to feel more difficult than they used to or you general don’t feel well, it might be time for a break. Experts say there’s no one definitive answer when it comes to how often we should work out, but if easy exercises have become harder, this is a red flag.
Did you know that skimping on sleep can do more than just make you feel groggy? It can also impair your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infection and disease.
Dr. Cathy Hefner, a professor of nursing and psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that research has also shown that every person needs a different amount of sleep generally varying from 6 to 8 hours each night.
According to her, not only does getting enough restful sleep help reduce stress, but it also allows the body to respond better to vaccines and injuries. She continued on by saying that when stress is chronic, it decreases the immune system’s response and may even increase inflammation. All of this makes us more susceptible to colds and other diseases.” Even daily hassles can negatively affect our immunity if we let them,” she added in conclusion.
To put it another way, taking breaks is vital to fortifying and aiding the immune system.
3- Eat healthy foods
The foods you choose to eat daily also affect the health of your immune system. Doctors advise eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables – such as berries, citrus fruits, red cabbage and kale – because they are great sources of flavonoids, chemical compounds found in plants that help the body fight infections and diseases.
It is important to note that tea, coffee, raw chocolate and some grains such as buckwheat are also excellent sources of flavonoids.
A 2011 study found that adults who ate at least three servings of fruit a day were less likely to get upper respiratory tract infections than those who did not eat as much fruit.
4- Additional tips for maintaining a healthy immune system
The coronavirus pandemic proved how vital personal hygiene truly is. Although the gravity of a potential coronavirus infection has lessened according to The New York Times, it is still crucial to practice hand-washing and social distancing when cold symptoms appear.
Did you know that drinking water not only helps to keep you hydrated, but also aids in the production of lymph? Lymph is a clear fluid that carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. So, by drinking lots of water, you can help to keep your immune system healthy.
To keep your immune system functioning optimally, it’s important to steer clear of over-the-counter medications and antibiotics, unless advised by a doctor.
5- Vitamins you should take
Make sure you’re getting enough zinc — 15 to 30 mg per day. Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, and it also acts as an antioxidant by fighting free radicals.
Vitamin D: You can obtain this vitamin from fortified foods and sunlight, though our current way of living doesn’t let us spend much time outside. Additionally, many adults have a deficiency in Vitamin D, which lessens the strength of their immune system.
This vitamin is key in both preventing and treating autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin C: 1500 mg daily. This vitamin is essential for a strong immune system- studies have shown that those who are deficient in Vitamin C are more likely to succumb to colds and other illnesses. Not only does it fortify the body against infection, but Vitamin C has also been linked with a overall decline in immunity.