Maximise your Chances of a Bug Free Winter!
Alas, autumn is now officially here and our thoughts are starting to turn to new knitwear, crispier mornings and Hallowe’en. Unless you’re planning to lock yourself indoors and shun all human contact for the next few months, there’s a chance you could fall prey to a bug or two. Coughs, colds, the dreaded winter vomiting virus and winter flu are all just waiting in the wings.
If you’re busy with your career and/or parenting or you’re keen on being as fit and healthy as possible, then any one of these nasties is going to set you back.
However, here’s how you can boost your immune system and build up your own health firewall:
Eat Germ-Busting Foods
Garlic doesn’t just ward away vampires. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties, so it’ll give a cold a good run for its money. Add a couple of cloves to stir-fries, curries, stews and even your roast potatoes. Ginger and turmeric are also great. Both are fiery and help protect against bugs by having anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C helps too, by strengthening the immune system, so eat plenty of kiwi fruits, oranges and strawberries. Make sure you eat colourful veg too, as each different coloured food contains different immune-boosting ‘phytonutrients’. Try red and yellow peppers, aubergines, sweet potatoes and plenty of dark leafy greens.
Don’t Forget to Rest
This is a nice one to do which involves hardly any effort – except learning to say “no” more often. Stress and lack of sleep depletes our immunity so try to avoid staying up late to finish off that power point presentation (or scrolling through social media). Aim to get at least seven hours sleep, preferably eight, each night. When we’re asleep, our cells, tissues and organs repair themselves, so sleep really is restorative.
Keep Up with the Exercise – Even if it’s Cold!
It’s tempting to stay indoors with a book or a box set when the weather gets chilly. Sure, go ahead and do so, we’re not total killjoys. But make sure you get your usual runs in, or your sessions at the gym. View every exercise session as a way of building up your loyal army of immunity-protecting antioxidants.
Drink Plenty of Water
This one always appears on healthy checklists, but it’s an easy one to forget when it’s not hot. There may not be much sun around in winter but drinking enough water is about more than staying hydrated. Water actually helps with the transportation of white blood cells and other immune system goodies in the fight against germs and baddies.
Boost your Good Bacteria
You can boost the bad bug busting good bacteria in your stomach by eating high fibre and fermented foods such as kimchi (a Korean delicacy of pickled vegetables) and avoiding too much sugar. But you can give it a helping hand with a probiotic supplement too. The more good bugs, the less space for those diarrhoea and vomiting bad bugs!
You’ve no doubt heard the expression “laughter is the best medicine”, and indeed it’s true. Laughing really does boost the immune system by getting rid of built up stress hormones and, at the same time, increasing the strength of immune cells and antibodies. It’s as effective as sleep, and just as pleasurable. So indulge in your favourite sitcom or invite your funniest friends over for dinner!
Know your Genes
Understanding your personal genetics will also help you to take steps to build up your immunity by optimising your diet, energy metabolism and vitamin absorption. If you’d like to know more, ladies come this way, and gents come this way. We also have an Immune Health DNA Test Kit, that can provide information on the right diet for your immune system to help increase your resistance to bugs and infections.