10 Top Tips to Boost Your Winter Immunity
Your immune system is what allows your body to fight infections and diseases. It consists of a complex network of cells, tissues and organs – and the substances they make – which are constantly hard at work to keep you feeling well and functioning normally.
The immune system works around the clock and all throughout the year, but during the winter it tends to be tested more due to increased exposure to a greater range of seasonal illnesses – particularly colds and flu.
Additionally, winter weather itself brings with it more cold, damp air and less warm sunshine which makes us feel tempted to stay indoors, sheltered from the elements.
A strong, healthy immune system is your first line of defence against winter illness. There are multiple ways you can build and protect your winter immunity. Here are our 10 Top Tips to get you off to a great start:
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
There is a strong and immediate bond between enough sleep and immunity. Poor quality sleep is linked to being more vulnerable to illness. Not getting enough sleep also increases cortisol levels which raises your stress levels which, in turn, will adversely affect your immune system.
Adults should aim to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. Teenagers need between 8-10 hours, while younger children and infants should be getting up to 14 hours.
2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants. The role of antioxidants is to fight unstable compounds in your body, known as free radicals. It is these free radicals that cause inflammation and lead to sicknesses.
Diets that consist mostly of processed foods do not provide the full spectrum of nutrients required for maintaining a healthy immune system or a healthy and balanced gut.
Fibres in plant-based foods help increase and maintain the healthy bacteria in your gut. Good gut health is essential to a strong immune system. Taking steps like introducing more fibre into your diet can improve your immunity by preventing harmful pathogens (microorganisms or viruses which cause diseases) from entering your body.
When your gut is in good health your stomach acid more easily rids the body of harmful pathogens. Your gut really is the starting point for feeling a general sense of wellness while staving off illness.
Learn more about how improved nutrition and hydration can keep your immune system strong: 14 Tips for Better Nutrition and Hydration
3. Eat Healthy Fats
Not all fats are bad for you! Healthy fats, such as those found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, nuts (almonds and walnuts), seeds (chia and flax), avocados and naturally fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines) will also help in the fight against pathogens.
Both Olive Oil and the Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish are anti-inflammatory. These anti-inflammatory foods help keep chronic inflammation from weakening your body’s immune system.
Inflammatory food includes:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Margarine and animal fat
- Red meat
- Fried foods
4. Avoid Sugar
Sugar is by far the most inflammatory food and avoiding it can do wonders for your immune system. Added sugars and refined carbohydrates are linked to becoming overweight which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Dangerous enough in themselves, these conditions will also weaken your immune system.
5. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important to maintaining your health. If you become dehydrated it can cause headaches and impair your focus, mood, digestion and the function of your kidneys and heart.
To prevent dehydration, you should drink a small amount of water at regular intervals throughout the day. Of course, if you are exercising you will need to drink more. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, by this time your body is already beginning to be dehydrated.
As a basic guide, your urine should be a pale yellow colour to suggest you have a good level of hydration. If you have been struggling to maintain proper hydration levels a Hydration IV Drip could get you back on track.
6. Take Moderate Exercise Everyday
Moderate exercise helps to reduce inflammation within your body as well as to boost the regeneration of your immune cells. Studies have revealed that moderate exercise boosts the effectiveness of vaccines in people whose immune systems are compromised.
Moderate exercise can include swimming, jogging, brisk walking and steady cycling, as well as other activities that leave you feeling warmer and a little out of breath.
If you are new to exercise, it is always sensible to consult your GP before starting a new activity.
If you join a gym, your induction programme should involve a detailed questionnaire and a face-to-face meeting before you are introduced to any new programme. Start sensibly and gradually build up your tolerance. You will enjoy it more, notice the difference it is having on your body (and immune system) and you’ll also avoid being one of the many who “drop out” after a few weeks of fevered activity!
7. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying excessive weight puts stress on your body. It not only affects your joints, causing pain and limiting your ability to move, but it also increases breathlessness and puts a greater strain on your internal organs, especially your heart.
These stresses will take their toll on your immune system, too. All combined, being overweight increases your chances of being sick and developing serious diseases.
Prioritise a weight management programme and seek help from a GP or weight loss support group if you need encouragement and guidance.
8. Take Vitamin D
A healthy immune system relies on vitamin D. In the summer, exposure to sunshine helps enormously. However, between October and March, the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough to bring this health benefit. Instead, take a daily supplement of Vitamin D, easily obtainable from pharmacists, to help you maintain a healthy level.
Learn more by reading our article: How to Increase Vitamin D Levels Quickly and Effectively
9. Do Regular Meditation or Yoga
Both meditation and yoga have a decidedly calming effect on your body and mind. They have the power to reduce stress levels which would otherwise weaken your body’s immune system.
You can learn the basics by joining a class so you can get the right technique and support. You don’t need any special equipment, just loose, comfortable clothing which won’t restrict your ability to stretch. You can even look up some yoga and meditation techniques online if you’re not ready to commit to a class.
Having understood the key moves, you may like to download an App or two to help you find inner peace in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
Learn more on how you can reduce inflammation by reducing oxidative stress: Oxidative Stress: What Is It? And How Do We Tackle It?
10. Take Vitamin Supplements Targetting Improved Immunity
Simply taking tablets is not an answer on its own. However, if they truly ‘supplement’ the other good practices they can have a beneficial effect.
The following have been linked to strengthening your body’s immune response.
Alongside vitamin D, key ones include Vitamin C, Echinacea and Zinc supplements – all believed to reduce the duration of a cold.
A high-quality garlic supplement could also reduce your chances of catching a common cold, while elderberry is considered a good defence against viral upper respiratory infections.
An Extra Boost
If you’re feeling particularly under the weather or “catch everything going around” you might like to kickstart your winter immunity with an IV shot or drip.
Our IV Boost clinics in Wimpole Street and Berkhamsted offer immunity boosters in the form of intravenous vitamin drips to ensure that the body is fully supported to function effectively.
You will enjoy a full consultation before a drip is created to suit your needs but, typically, it will include vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Zinc, Glutathione, Cysteine and Arginine.
All are designed to boost your immune system and keep you fighting fit this winter!