There are several reasons people get sick more often during winter. Some viruses spread and replicate faster when it’s cold. The heating in our homes makes the air drier, which contributes to viruses entering our nasal passages. And then there’s the issue of our diet. For some reason, we tend to eat stronger and sometimes unhealthier food in winter, which can weaken our immune system. And therein lies the problem. So, check out these five ways of strengthening your immune system today.
Keep your hands clean
The importance of washing your hands regularly cannot be stressed enough. Of course, you’ll wash your hands after visiting the toilet, using the public transport or sneezing into your palm. However, many people seem to forget to wash their hands after, for example, blowing their nose. After all, they used a clean handkerchief. Also, it’s easy to also lose track of what the last thing you touched was and you sometimes scratch or touch your face before washing your hands. All these things can weaken your immune system. So, in order to strengthen it, you have to wash your hands after handling money, door knobs and even being in touch with other people. If you’re outside and can’t wash your hands when you want to, use antibacterial wipes and avoid touching your face, to prevent viruses and bacteria to enter body via your nose and mouth.
It’s a common misconception that there aren’t any fresh seasonal foods in winter. There are and you should base your diet on them as often as you can. The goal is to choose those fruits and vegetables that contain all the vitamins and minerals you need for a strong immune system. For example, Brussels sprouts and buttercup squash are a great choice, since they’re fat-free and loaded with vitamin C, just like leeks, which also contain a fair amount of vitamin A. In addition to vitamins C and A, kale and sweet potatoes are great sources of potassium. Dark leafy greens, bell peppers, kiwi, citruses and other tropical fruit in combination with whole foods, like lean protein, fish, whole grains, various nuts, seeds and legumes will help boost your immune system, due to the nutrients in them. On the other hand, processed food and fried foods, sugary and energy drinks can suppress your immune system, so avoid them. Drink plenty of water, since staying hydrated can be helpful for staying healthy in any season, including winter.
Use herbs and spices
Most grandmas will say that there’s nothing like a cup of hot herbal tea when you catch the flu, and they’ll be right. This is because herbs like hibiscus, elderberry, lemon grass and chamomile are a great way to improve the state of your immune system. Adding garlic to your meals can do wonders for your overall health, since it’s got antibacterial and antifungal properties and will help prevent you from catching a cold or develop a chest infection. Spices like cinnamon and ginger can be added to your tea, along with some honey and lemon, to protect your immune system with their anti-oxidant properties. Similarly, turmeric and its active ingredient, the immune-boosting curcumin, are known for their anti-inflammatory features that can improve your wellness. Plus, using ginseng might improve your respiratory function, while improving your immune system.
Get enough sleep
Losing sleep is never a good idea, especially during winter and the flu season, since it can damage your body’s defense against viruses and impair your immune system. In order to avoid this, you should do your best to have seven or eight hours of sleep every night. Create a bed-time routine you’ll stick to, so that you can fall asleep easily and wake up at about the same time, no matter what day it is. The room you sleep in shouldn’t be too warm and the air in it shouldn’t be too dry. It should be dark, quiet and your bed should be comfortable, so that your sleep is restful enough, without interruptions. Once you manage to do this, not only will it be beneficial for your immune function, but also your brain and mental health.
Being physically active comes more naturally to us during the summer months. The weather is nicer then and it draws us outside, making us move from one place to another and inspiring us to work out and enjoy it. However, in winter we prefer wrapping ourselves in a warm blanket, reading or watching a film in the comfort of our own homes. This is something you should work on, since one way of strengthening your immune system is by being physically active. Don’t be afraid of the cold. Wear warm clothes and spend as much time outside as you can. Go walking or running, and if you don’t want to be outdoors, join a gym or a yoga class. Physical activity will lower your stress levels, improve your overall health and increase your immune function in no time.
The only way to stay healthy is to take responsibility of your body and your health. Once you take things into your own hands and realize it’s all up to you, you’ll boost your immune system and keep all those pesky viruses at bay all through winter.
Last modified: December 4, 2018