Are your colleagues dropping like flies? Sick of nursing man-flu when winter hits each year? Or, are you a frequent flyer prone to a case of the frequent flu? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! Thankfully, there are defensive steps you can take to ensure you put up the toughest shield possible this cold and flu season.
What is the immune system?
The immune system is a network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses, bacteria and foreign substances. On a day to day basis, it plays an integral role in the body, especially during volatile periods like high stress, fatigue or harsh climates. So, from time to time, it does need a little support.
Strengthening your immune system
The first line of defence against low immunity is to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when you lead a healthy life. The below guidelines is a great place to start:
- Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
- Consume alcohol in moderation: Despite what some might tell you, drinking alcohol most definitely does not ward off bugs and kill infectious bacteria!
- Don't smoke
- Adequate sleep and low-stress levels: Ever find a big night or stressful time at work catches up with you? There’s a reason for that: it decreases immunity.
- Good hygiene: Think washing hands regularly, showering daily, disinfecting cooking surfaces and handling meat correctly.
- Supplements to fill in nutritional gaps: hether you’re looking to ramp up your defences during cold and flu season or create long-term immune support to help prevent more serious diseases, supplements can definitely help.
Sidestep illness all winter long with the below immunity boosters:
Undeniably the most widely known of immunity boosters, vitamin C is a great year-round safeguard to ensure optimum health. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick!
Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, capsicum, spinach, kale and broccoli. Adequate daily intake is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it. So, it’s always a good idea to supplement your diet with it in case you aren’t consuming enough.
This wonder mineral can be taken for a myriad of reasons from acne and wound healing to digestion and immunity. Zinc is considered critical for a healthy immune system. The body requires it to develop and activate T-cells—important players in the immune system—and several studies have shown that even mild deficiencies can impair components of the immune system.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, probiotics are one of the most effective supplements for long-term support of the immune and digestive system. They’re particularly effective in treating bugs with symptoms of infectious diarrhoea and/or vomiting because they help to balance out the bacteria in your gut after it’s thrown out of whack.
Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine drug’, is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies seen in adults. With our harsh sun, we tend to over-protect ourselves than under-protect, which can mean we don’t obtain adequate levels of vitamin D. Research has established a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased autoimmunity (where the body attacks itself) as well as increased susceptibility to infection.
It turns out garlic doesn’t just pack a punch at dinnertime but in the body too! In addition to lowering cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease, garlic supplements have been found to combat sickness, including the common cold. Don’t believe us? Let the research speak for itself:
- One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to a placebo.
- The average length of cold symptoms w also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in the placebo group to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.
Garlic supplements are especially recommended for those prone to getting sick.