By Hannah E. Whitcombe
It’s that time of year again and it seems that ‘something is going around’ and everyone is shamelessly passing on their germs to one another. But why do some people become infected while others exposed to the same virus seem to dodge the bullet?
Though there is no fool-proof way to avoid the common cold (usually caused by the rhinovirus), there are things we can do to strengthen our immune systems and improve our chances of self-defence!
Here are my top five tips to help you stay happy & healthy this winter!
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep really does help when it comes to fighting off illness. Conserving energy allows the immune system to focus inwards and fight off any lurking virus or bacteria.
Aim for about 7-9 hours sleep per night, or slightly more if you feel you may be at the onset of a cold or flu.
2. Stay hydrated
Increasing your water intake is one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective ways to improve your overall health! Keeping your mucous membranes moist will enable the nasties to pass through without taking hold and making you sick! It will also ensure that nutrients can reach your cells and do their thing to keep you well and healthy.
Aim for about 1-2 litres of pure water per day! If you feel that this is unachievable in the colder months, try hot water with lemon or herbal tea for a more comforting alternative.
3. Stay active
Staying active all year round will keep you strong as well as delivering fresh blood to the tissues, which helps to support your overall immunity. Again, this is an amazingly simple and cost effective way to boost your overall health. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking for 45 minutes per day may be all you need to reap the rewards.
Consistency is key, and it has been found that brisk walking for 45 minutes 5 times a week can reduce your chances of developing a cold by a third!
4. Maintain a healthy diet
Maintain a healthy diet! A diet lacking proper nutrition is likely to result in more frequent illness. So, here is another plug for a whole-food diet rich in whole grains, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables and all of those good fats that we keep banging on about.
This is because certain nutrients are directly responsible for the work and activities of a healthy immune system. Mother nature has done the hard work for us by providing us with a range of healthful foods that really can be considered as medicine. Top foods to support a healthy immune system include;
Garlic and ginger for their antiviral and antibacterial properties
Mushrooms are immune powerhouses. They are able to destroy microbes and balance the immune system. Further they are a fair source of vitamin D which can further help to boost overall immunity
Lemons for their high content of vitamin C and their antiviral and antibacterial properties. In addition, lemons help to cleanse the liver and kidneys, particularly important during times of illness
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables to provide the body with immune-building vitamin C and antioxidants
A range of herbs and spices to help fight infection, inflammation and free radicals
Organic honey to support the mucous membranes and help fight infection
Fermented foods such as yoghurt, tempeh and sauerkraut to provide the body with probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria, which help to balance a healthy immune system. They actively destroy pathogens and fight bad bacteria.