It's that time of year again... cold and flu season. The good news is that there are some simple ways that we can boost our immune systems to try to prevent any bugs from attacking us today and in the coming months. Everywhere you look there are advertisements for the flu-shot. But what you don't seem to see in the media (or on the subway, or on signs beside the sidewalk...) are tips on what you can do for yourself to stay cold & flu-free. The choice to get, or not-get, the flu shot is a personal one, and should be made after educating yourself about the pros and cons of the flu shot (that could be a whole other blog post) – contact your primary health care physician, medical or naturopathic, for more information.
Here are my top 5 ways to pump up your immune system for the winter months!
1. Get more sleep. This is a hard one for me, as I'm sure it is for many of you too – there just are not enough hours in the day sometimes. Sleep is when our bodies have a chance to rest, heal, and recover from the day. If presented with a cold of flu bug, a good nights sleep may be the difference between getting sick or not. Try to aim for 7-8 hours per night.
2. Drink more fluids, especially water. Water is literally the conveyor of life! We need it to keep our blood in good health, and our immune system is vastly located amongst our blood cells.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables, with as many colours per day as you can. Fruits and vegetables contain so many good things for our immune system – vitamins B, C and E, zinc, anti-oxidants, flavonoids, and the list goes on. My personal favourites to get a good bang for your buck? Leafy greens like spinach and kale, grapefruit, tomatoes and apples.
4. Exercise. Exercise is wonderful for so many aspects of your health – including your immune system. It helps to promote the good functioning of all of your immune cells. Moderate exercise is the key, like going for a swim, run, or to a gentle class at your local gym. Strenuous, intense, and prolonged exercise actually hinders the ability of your immune system to protect you from basic pathogens, like cold and flu viruses.
5. Cut down on the sugar. Sugars like glucose, fructose and sucrose can not only inhibit the functioning of your immune system cells, but also act as a fuel source for bacteria and viruses – double whammy. Try to limit your intake as much as possible for both cold and flu prevention, but also overall health.
I hope these tips see you through the winter months illness-free!