Coughs, cold and flu hit us generally in the winter but if you have children, they can hit any time of year. They can also hit when we’re stressed or when we’re exhausted and our body has just had enough. So here are some hints and tips from me on how to boost your immune system so that you stay protected all year round.
1. Exercise Regularly
As hard as it is to exercise and move your body in winter studies show that there is an immune boosting response when you exercise. A 2008 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine studied 1000 athletes and found that those who exercised the most had the least amount of colds. Even when they did catch a cold it was far less severe. The exact science is actually not yet understood but the evidence is definitely there from numerous scientific research so make sure you move your body this winter!
2. Make love more often
Michael Castleman, is the publisher of Great Sex After 40. On his website he discusses that a 2004 study shows that the close contact of lovemaking reduces the risk of colds. Specifically, this study found that college students who had sex once or twice a week had 30 percent more salivary IgA antibody than those who had sex infrequently, helping prevent the common cold.
3. Eat good food
Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds and avoid simple sugars which impair the immune system. Make sure you get a wide range of colours so that you are getting lots of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.
4. Add lucuma to your smoothies or desserts
Lucuma is an exotic fruit from South America that can be used as a natural sweetener. You can buy the powdered form from health shops. It is high in antioxidants and B Vitamins and a great immune booster
Check out this recipe for adding lucuma into a dessert:
5. Hug a dog
Dogs have been shown to boost your immune system! Not only that but they live in the moment and make you appreciate the small things. Expressing gratitude has been shown to make you more optimistic about life and this has a strong correlation to immune function.
6. Eat fermented food
Did you know that over 70% of your immune system is located in your gut?
Adding fermented foods to your diet such as kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut will ensure that your health stays on track this winter.
7. Drink 2-3 cups of Tulsi Tea
Studies show that tulsi tea (known also as holy basil) can boost the immune system, decrease blood sugars and help you adapt to stress. There are various flavours available and you can buy from your local health shop. I drink Organic India (http://www.organicindia.com/)
8. Find a way to relax
Stressing causes your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol. While short term stress can be good (think of adrenaline kicking in when you’re being chased by a lion) long term stress puts a big strain on the immune system. This initially leads to the common cold (as I saw last year) but long-term stress can lead to autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue and much more.
Find out what helps you relax. For me it is running, reading, spending time with my husband and dogs. For others it might be yoga or meditation.
9. Get some Vitamin D
When the sun can be a bit scarce in the winter, I recommend supplementing with Vitamin D (at least 400 units). Studies show that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in autoimmune disease and there has been numerous studies showing a link between low Vitamin D levels and the prevalence of the common cold and flu.
10. Increase your Zinc Intake
Zinc is a mineral which is essential for the immune and digestive systems as well as helping with stress levels (See number 7). Check out this great immune boosting breakfast cereal:
11. Get enough sleep
Sleep is the time when your body goes into repair mode. Sleep deprivation also causes cortisol to increase which as noted in (7) effects the immune system.
12. Take Olive Leaf Extract
Studies have shown that taking olive leaf extract enhances the function of the immune system and aids in the management of the immune system.
For more information refer to here:
13. Use Essential Oils
Good quality essential oils can support the immune system. I use dōTERRA and highly recommend their protective blend for immune support all year round.
For more information on essential oils read here:
Hopefully by following these 13 steps you will lessen your chances of coming down with a cold as often.