Eating a diet full of lots of delicious fruit and vegetables is good advice all-year round, and even more so in winter when our body is lacking in nutrients. According to Health Navigator, by eating five-plus a day, you’ll get lots of extra vitamins, minerals and other goodness to help bolster your defences.
Yes, easier said than done (especially if some of your bugs are coming from small children!). But getting sufficient sleep really does seem to make a difference to your immunity.
A study by the Sleep Foundation found a direct link between quality of sleep and compromised immunity. When people suffered a “sleep shock” their bodies reacted as if they were trying to battle an infection – which doesn’t leave much protection for when a real virus arrives.
Naturopath Deanna Copland writes that vitamin D and zinc, as well as selenium, can help your body ward off infection. You might also want to add a bit more garlic to your diet – some people swear by raw garlic at the first sign of a cold.
If you’d rather get the goodness from food, you can find zinc in beef, poultry, nuts and oysters. And vitamin C – another immune superhero – is in good supply in capsicum, citrus fruits and broccoli.
Maybe it’s time to book in a coffee with a friend? There’s some evidence that a good laugh also gives you an immune lift – boosting your antibodies and the cells that fight off illness.
If you needed another reason to give up the cigarettes, here it is. Smoking lowers your immunity and, if you have children, it can increase their risk of diseases like bronchitis and pneumonia. Children of smokers are more likely to catch colds, the Ministry of Health says.
Getting the right amount of exercise can really help. Personal trainer Andrew Cate writes that while excessive exercise can negatively affect your immunity, regular moderate exercise helps stimulate the recirculation of cells from the immune system and decrease your risk of infection.
It can sometimes feel hard to avoid, but cutting down on stress could help to boost your immunity, too. The Nutrition Foundation says there is growing evidence that chronic stress can wear down your ability to ward off infection. Try to take some time out, and add some mindfulness in your day to reduce your stress levels.
Covid-19 gave many of us a refresher on how to keep ourselves healthy when a virus is circulating. Brush up on the rules around washing your hands regularly, keep away from sick people (and keep away from others if you’re sick) and mask up if you’re in a situation where one is recommended.
Here’s to a healthy winter.
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