Friday, 5 December 2014

How To | Boost Your Immune System

Have you a tendency to become sick and unwell at this time of year? Coughs, colds, viruses are rampant at the minute. Prevention is key to help you stay on top of your game. I’ve compiled some tips to help keep you sniffle-free all winter long.

You hear people harping on about diet all of the time, and I’m afraid it applies here too. It’s a simple concept; what you put inside is going to affect your body’s output and functionality. Foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats aren’t doing your body any favours. Swapping these for healthier options will strengthen your immune system. Foods high in protein help the growth and repair of cells. If you have a feeling you're ran-down this winter, speak to your pharmacist/GP about the possible use of a tonic. Keeping an eye on your haemoglobin levels is important – remember that Vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron!
Some handy foods you can include in your diet are:

- Yoghurt : Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.
- Garlic : This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
- Shellfish : Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body.
- Mushrooms : Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection

Catch Enough Zzzs?
We underestimate the power of sleep and how important it is to help keep us fighting fit. You’ll often notice you’re more likely to fall ill after of period of lack of sleep. A lab experiment bears this out: When students at the University of Chicago were limited to only 4 hours of sleep a night for 6 nights and then given a flu vaccine, their immune systems made only half the normal number of antibodies. Also, it’s no wonder that this rises our stress levels at the same time. Usually 7-9 hours of sleep a night for an adult is key to good heath. Now for you!

Even a moderate 30 minute walk a day can do the world of good. Exercise boots that feel-good-factor and in turn helps you to sleep better at night. A win-win in my book.

Don’t be stressing:
Stress is unavoidable at times for most of us, but it does a great deal of harm over a long period of time. You’ll often find students “burn out” towards the end of their exams, or anyone who has had a particularly hectic few weeks or months at work. This makes you more vulnerable to illness, colds and some serious illnesses.
While you mightn’t be able to get rid of your stress completely – it’s important that you learn to manage it better:

- Find a hobby/activity that relaxes you
- Take a deep breath and slow down
- Seek advice, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Are you having the LOLs?
Ever hear that laughing is good for you? Well believe it or not, it’s true! It restricts the levels of stress hormones in your body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Don’t believe me? According to one study, men were told 3 days in advance that they were going to watch a funny video. Their levels of stress hormones dropped. So go out and have a laugh once in a while!

Sometimes illness is unavoidable, but prevention is the best cure. This list is not exclusive, and I am sure there are many other handy tips out there. Be sure to wrap up over the next few weeks during the cold snap!

Have you your own tips to avoid coughs and colds?


  1. Great advice, it's hard to do all those things listed, but in the past my mom used to give me some garlic to keep virus and bacteria away. Not sure it worked as I was often ill, maybe not large enough quantities.. :)

    1. Hi Min, sorry I didn't get back to you sooner!

      Haha, maybe! I never tried the garlic myself but I know it's worked for some people. Hope you're keeping well, enjoy the holidays :)

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