5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System As Cold & Flu Season Approaches
NOTHING can completely keep the disease away, but lifestyle adjustments can help. Experts teach Liz Connor how to build your defenses this fall.
Fall can be a tough time for our immune system, with countless insects moving around and cooler temperatures meaning we’re more indoors making it easier for germs to spread.
Busy schedules can also increase stress, which doesn’t help matters and can quickly rob us of the energy we need to get through the day, without having to rely on a constant flow of pumpkin and chocolate lattes. spices.
“Every day we each inhale over 100 million different bacteria,” says Euan MacLennan, medical herbalist and director of herbal remedies at Pukka Herbs (pukkaherbs.com). “To stop infectious invaders, we have about 30 million unique antibodies, each programmed to recognize a single known bacterium, as well as millions of other ‘naive’ antibodies waiting to attack previously unknown bacteria.
“Although our immune system is designed to fight viruses, sometimes it can be helpful to support it against new challenges,” adds MacLennan.
Want to navigate the cold season, without spending all the time coughing into the sleeve of your sweater and blowing your nose? Remember that the best way to stop the spread of insects is to stay on top of things like regular hand washing and to minimize contact with others if you or them are not feeling well, but a way to healthy living can also help support our immune system.
Here are some fall boosters recommended by the experts …
If you’ve neglected your gym membership since the lockout was lifted, here’s a great reason to get back to a regular exercise routine. “Besides protecting our heart, exercise is really important for maintaining a strong immune system,” says Emily Rollason, expert nutritionist for Holland & Barrett (hollandandbarrett.com), “whether it’s a brisk walk to the shops instead of driving, or a swim in the sea, lake or river.
“Research shows that regular exercise increases the flow of white blood cells – the purpose of which is to kill any disease – causing pathogens in the body.”
There is a catch though: if you train too much you can actually weaken your immune system because you are not letting your body recover. Generally speaking, it is quite difficult to really over train, but make sure to schedule regular rest days so that you can reap the full benefits.
2. Think Mediterranean
It’s not just about cutting back on vitamin C supplements when you feel a cold on the way. Filling your daily diet with nutrients and herbs that boost the immune system, especially those with antiviral properties, is a great way to give your body a good chance at staying in great shape.
Dr Jenna Macciochi, a leading immunologist working with Healthspan (healthspan.co.uk), says: “A Mediterranean style anti-inflammatory diet is a great example of a scientifically backed immune diet.
“Rich in fiber, healthy fats like omega 3s, lean protein, and an abundance of colorful plant chemicals, it meets all of our daily nutritional needs, while reducing chronic inflammation and protecting against disease-related diseases.” ‘age.
“Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, is one of my favorite staples for preventing unwanted inflammation and age-related illnesses,” Macciochi adds. “It absorbs oxidative stress in the body and supports your own antioxidant systems.”
3. Follow your instincts
According to Macciochi, around 70% of the immune system is in close contact with our gut microbiota. “These good bugs help train and educate our immune system,” she says.
A varied diet rich in fiber and nutrients is essential for supporting a healthy gut microbiome, but could a supplement help?
Taking care of gut health with a daily probiotic containing clinically researched immune supporting strains, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacterial strains, could be an easy way to improve your health: “It has been clinically proven proven that probiotics reduce the incidence, duration and severity of common infections. ”
Try Healthspan’s Super20 Pro supplement capsules (£ 10.95 for 30 capsules) or Symprove (from £ 79 for a four week pack, Symprove.com).
4. Limit take-out
When we’re busy and stressed, it can be easy to get into the habit of ordering hamburgers or pizzas to go, but MacLennan cautions that “fast processed foods don’t support our immune system at all. Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany have found that an unhealthy diet can cause the immune system to act as if it is responding to bacterial infections, ”he notes.
His best advice? “The next time you go for the take out menu if you’re feeling uncomfortable, think back to the simple and nutritious options you may already have in your home. ”
5. Sleep and de-stress
As the winter months approach, we can be inundated with opportunities for socializing and overworking. While Macciochi says it can be enjoyable in moderation, we need to be aware of the negative impact stress and alcohol have on our health, especially our immune function.
“In the short term, cortisol (a hormone produced by stress) helps fight infection, but when its levels are continuously elevated, it can have a negative effect, suppressing and weakening the immune response against potential infections, delaying the recovery and even increasing the risk. for chronic inflammatory diseases, ”she warns.
“Tackling chronic stress on your body involves creating a toolkit of resources to help you, such as mindfulness and mediation. Personally, I like to take a magnesium bath after a stressful day.
Sleep, she says, is also the basis of good immunity. “Your chance of catching an infection is five and a half times greater if you manage to sleep less than six hours a night,” says Macciochi. “Protect your sleep by ensuring a calm wind every night and work on establishing consistent waking and sleeping times to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep.”