5 tips for boosting your immune system
The nights are drawing in and the annual household debate of when to put the heating on has started, letting us know that autumn is definitely here. Whilst we many of us think of crunchy leaves and pumpkin spiced lattes at this time of year, it is also the ideal time to start giving your immune system that extra boost to help you through the winter.
Of course it is important to keep the immune system healthy all year round, but with spending more time inside giving cold and flu viruses the chance to run rife, including these tips into your daily routine may really help keep the illnesses at bay during the colder months.
Likely to be the most common vitamin known for boosting the immune system, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps strengthen the body’s natural defences by protecting cells from free radicals. It also increases the production of white blood cells, which help to protect the body from infection. Citrus fruits, red peppers, blackcurrants and broccoli are all good sources of vitamin C.
There is reason why we sleep more when we are ill; studies have found that sleep improves immune cells called T cells. These fight against virus-infected cells, such as flu cells, by attaching themselves to the infected cells and killing them. Researchers compared the T cells from healthy volunteers who either slept or stayed awake all night; they found that those who slept all night showed higher levels of T cell integrin activation than those who stayed awake. Therefore sleeping more when we are ill helps to kill infected cells quicker, and getting a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night can keep these infections at bay.
Exercising isn’t just for improving your physical appearance and mental health, it can also boost your immune system. When the body is moving it helps to improve circulation, making it easier for immune cells to travel through the body. Studies show that as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can stimulate the immune system, these activities can include riding a bike, dancing or even gardening activities such a mowing the lawn.
Take a break
Many people don’t realise that stress does not only effect your mental health, but your physical health too. Long term stress can suppress the immune system, so looking after your wellbeing and taking a break when you need it is vital. ‘Taking a break’ can look different to each individual, whether it be meditation, a walk or a good book, taking some time out is really beneficial.
Eat the rainbow
You don’t need us to tell you that fruit and veg is good for you, however you might need reminding that eating a variety is important. Eating a balanced diet full of all the important nutrients is necessary for keeping the immune system healthy. So whilst eating your 5 a day is good, making sure that 5 a day includes some greens, reds, yellows and even blues is equally as important.