7 tips for boosting your immunity this winter

woman-698964_1920Winter time can sometimes bring us cold after cold, one dribbling nose running into another, that endless cough that won’t go away. You’ve likely got stacks of cough medicine, cough sweets, tablets and other concoctions ready to go to help make you feel better when your head is pounding and your throat is red raw. But what if you could help to strengthen immunity and reduce the number of colds, the severity and the length of cold, as well as other viruses and infections?

Well you can. I’ve put together 7 tips for boosting your immunity to help get your through the winter and help you generally feel healthier:

 

  1. Exercise regularly

Doing regular moderate exercise (e.g. brisk walking, cycling, golf) has shown to increase resistance to upper respiratory tract infections[1] and reduce sick days from work. However, long-term intense exercise can temporarily reduce the immune response, potentially leaving the body susceptible to infections.[2]

  1. Practice yoga and meditation

Regular meditation and yoga can help to increase your ability to deal with stress and therefore the negative IMG_1586impacts of stress on the immune system[3]. Furthermore, meditation can help to mediate some of the short-term stress response to more intense exercise mentioned above[4]. The movements carried out during yoga postures are also thought to help flush out toxins, supporting a healthy immune system[5][6][7].

  1. Add turmeric to your diet

Tumeric (in root or powder form) is an excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant spice. It is particularly powerful at reducing long term low-level inflammation, which is thought to be one of the main causes of many chronic western diseases. Add it to curries, stews and even boiled potatoes.garlic

  1. Eat garlic regularly

It’s not just an old wives tale, studies have shown that the components of garlic can decrease both the severity of colds and flus and number of colds people suffer with[8][9]. Raw garlic has the greatest impact as cooking can break down the active compounds.

  1. Drink plenty of water

Along with keeping your body moving, having plenty of fluid is key for helping deal with toxins, preventing a toxic overload and taking them to where they are processed. It is also important for aiding digestion, getting key nutrients to the parts of the body where they are needed.

  1. Get plenty of vitamins, minerals and balanced nutrition

Malnutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. Protein is essential for production of antibodies and other important substances in immune function, as well as, zinc, iron, vitamins A, C, E, and B-6, and other micronutrients[10]. Make sure you are having a good variety of fruit and veggies a day and minimise processed food, additives and preservatives.

  1. Minimise alcohol and quit smoking

Smoking can lead to upper respiratory tract infections and more frequent and more severe illnesses, so quitting smoking will really help boost your immune system. Furthermore, alcohol has also been shown to lower the initial response to viruses[11] so cutting down what you drink can help prevent illnesses and also your recovery rate.

 

So follow these tips this winter and beyond to feel healthier and hopefully have less of those niggly colds that just won’t go away as well as other illnesses.

Leanne Bird, Founder of BirdSol me@exerciseyourfreedom.com

 

[1] Pedersen, B. K. and Toft, A. D. (2000). Effects of exercise on lymphocytes and cytokines. British Journal of Sports Medicine 34:246-251. [Available online] http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/34/4/246

[2] Nieman, D. C. & Pedersen, B. K. (1999). Exercise and Immune Function. Sports Medicine 27: 73 [Available online] http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-199927020-00001

[3] Davidson, R. J.; Kabat‐Zinn, J.; Schumacher, J.; Rosenkranz, M.; Muller, D.; Santorelli, S.; Urbanowski, F.; Harrington, A.; Bonus, K. and Sheridan, J. (2003). Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine Volume 65 – Issue 4 – p 564–570. [Available online] http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2003/07000/AlterationinBrain%20andImmuneFunctionProduced.14.aspx

[4] Solberg, E.E., Halvorsen, R., Sundgot-Borgen, J., Ingjer, F., Holen, A. Meditation: a modulator of the immune response to physical stress? A brief report. British Journal of Sports Medicine 29:255-257. [Available online] http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/29/4/255.short

[5] Gopal, A., Mondal, S., Gandhi, A, Arora, S, Bhattacharjee, J. Effect of integrated yoga practices on immune responses in examination stress – A preliminary study. International Journey of Yoga. [Available Online] http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2011;volume=4;issue=1;spage=26;epage=32;aulast=Gopal

[6] Arora, S. and Bhattacharjee, J. (2008) Modulation of immune responses in stress by Yoga. [Available Online] http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2008;volume=1;issue=2;spage=45;epage=55;aulast=Arora

[7] Liao, S. and Padera, T. (2013) Lymphatic Function and Immune Regulation in Health and Disease. [Available online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780287/

[8] Josling, B. (2001) Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. [Available online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11697022

[9] Nantz MP1, Rowe CA, Muller CE, Creasy RA, Stanilka JM, Percival SS. (2012) Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. [Available online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22280901

[10] Chandra, R.K. (1997) Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9250133

[11] Coghlan, A. (2011) Too much booze blunts your immune system, New Scientist https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20983-too-much-booze-blunts-your-immune-system/

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