(GoHealthier.com) – Surviving cold and flu season without catching anything can feel a lot like dodging bullets. Every cough or sniffle nearby could be harboring microscopic terrors looking to invade our airways and knock us on our backsides.
No matter what measures we may take to reduce our exposure, we can’t always avoid catching every bug. Our immune systems are our last line of defense, the final barrier between us and a whole slew of infections — and we may have some control over how well each of ours functions. Here are a few immune-boosting tips to get through the cold and flu season.
A sluggish immune system can leave us more susceptible to colds and influenza, but there are ways to give it a boost. The right foods and supplements, combined with regular exercise, stress reduction and cutting out harmful habits, can go a long way in helping to prevent infections. We have details on these five ways to boost the immune system in the article below.
Here Are 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for Cold and Flu Season.
1. Eat the Right Foods
Every meal or snack choice we make goes into building or maintaining our bodies. Healthy foods provide sturdy, reliable building blocks, while fast food and other sources of empty calories don’t offer many of the nutrients our bodies need to function.
Without the right nutrients, our immune systems can only work so well. Healthline recommends eating these foods to keep the body at its best:
- Citrus fruits are excellent sources of immune-boosting vitamin C.
- Red bell peppers are even higher in vitamin C than citrus.
- Broccoli and other greens have fiber and antioxidants, and they’re packed with vitamins.
- Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that may contribute to the production of T cells. It also has antioxidants.
- Chicken soup made with fresh poultry and stock is high in vitamin B-6, which could help with inflammation. Added veggies can boost the vitamin and antioxidant content.
- Garlic contains sulfur compounds that may benefit immune health.
- Ginger can decrease inflammation, which could have protective effects on the body.
2. Try Supplements
Supplements can give us extra nutrients and provide additional benefits. A few worth trying are:
- Turmeric has serious anti-inflammatory properties, making it a favorite among people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions. Researchers also believe it has antiviral effects as well.
- Zinc tablets can boost T cell production, even in immune-compromised seniors, and it may also reduce the length of time a person is sick.
- Elderberry has proven effects against flu viruses and has long been used as a folk preventative and remedy for upper respiratory infections.
3. Cut Out Unhealthy Behaviors
Sometimes we need to meet Mother Nature halfway. Harvard Health recommends taking measures to reduce any behaviors that could increase illness risks. Smokers and heavy drinkers can improve their immune health by addressing their unhealthy habits, for example. People who don’t get enough sleep might consider adjusting their schedules or finding ways to improve their sleep hygiene.
We all have health factors that are within our control to improve. Every step we take to improve our overall health also improves our chances of getting through cold and flu season unscathed.
Physical activity reduces inflammation and improves overall health. Regular exercise may also boost our immune responses against infections. Studies on the effects of exercise on viral infection risks show staying active may even help reduce a person’s chances of developing severe COVID-19 infections.
5. Manage Stress
Stress can severely impact immune health, so keeping it managed and minimized may also help during cold and flu season. Start by reducing any sources of stress wherever possible and addressing the remaining issues. Adjustments to personal, work and self-care routines might be in order.
Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing, guided meditation or repetitive prayer. Some people benefit from yoga or tai chi. Find whatever works and go with it.
Cold and flu season might make the rounds every year, but that doesn’t mean we all need to suffer on every pass. We may not always avoid as many as we’d like, but we do have the power to keep seasonal infections to a minimum. It all starts with a healthy immune system. See what the above tips can do to help.
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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