Five Immunity Boosters for Cold & Flu Season
Is there perhaps a general time of the year when you perhaps eat a little less healthfully than usual? Does it coincide with maybe drinking a little more alcohol than usual? And getting a little less restful sleep than usual? And being among more crowds and attending one or two more parties than usual? And if so, is this also a time you experience slightly more stress and anxiety than usual? Yes, it’s the holidays. But there are some simple things you can do to keep your immune system happy and energetic and still fully enjoy your pumpkin pie and family-related panic attacks.
STAY CLEANThe imminent danger of touching contaminated surfaces is ever present — doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails in any public place, pharmacy, doctor’s office, or restroom. So remember to wash yours hands, and wash them often. Use warm water, scrub for at least 30 seconds, and be thorough — get between your fingers and under your nails. And dry thoroughly too! Survivor germs will thrive on damp hands, which will also sap body heat and force your body to work overtime when it’s already working overtime. And just in case, keep some hand sanitizer close by at all times. There will, of course, be times when you simply don’t think to wash your hands 30 times per day, and that’s fine. Just remember to keep the environments that are under your control clean too. Keep disinfectant wipes at the ready at your desk and at home — especially if you have kids. Read these 10 Worst Germ Hot Spots and keep your sanitizing tools locked and loaded.
STAY RESTEDThere’s nothing controversial about the conclusion that getting less than seven hours of sleep per night will negatively affect your short- and long-term health. Allowing yourself to get into the habit of having a sleep deficit can make you up to three times more likely to get sick. Plus, being all sleepy and fuzzy-headed might result in forgetting to wash your hands, wipe off all those nasty surfaces, and touching your face without those filthy hands. Why is this so? According to the Mayo Clinic:
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. … So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.Not the world’s reigning champion of sleep? You might just be lacking in sleep hygiene. Luckily, the American Sleep Association has listed out the essentials of healthy sleep habits that’ll keep you and your immune system ready for the day every day.
STAY NOURISHEDTo get your immune system battle ready, you have to arm it to the teeth. With your teeth. Garlic is nature’s antibacterial and antiviral, and it comes packed with an immune stimulant called germanium. So start adding garlic to your winter cooking. If you’re really concerned, chop up a clove or two into swallowable chunks and swallow the garlic as you would a pill. If you’re worried this will deter people from getting near you, be comforted by the fact that those people are probably harboring bacteria. Incorporate ginger and turmeric into your routine as well. These can be consumed as teas, recipe ingredients, or nutritional supplements. They help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and alleviate congestion. For more suggestions on immune-boosting foods, refer to an articles online highlighting top foods to fortify your body against infections. And you’re going to have to cut back on sugar. According to WebMD:
Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks. Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc.