How to strengthen your immune system (in time for flu season)
Our immune system is a pretty incredible thing, doing a top job at keeping us protected from potential infection each and every day, pretty much on its own! As we head into cold and flu season, you might be looking for ways to strengthen your immune system and keep any pesky sicknesses at bay. And while this idea is alluring, it’s much easier said than done.
That said, there are some basic ways we can improve your overall health, which scientists reckon is likely to have a positive impact on our immunity, too. Here’s what you need to know.
The best way to avoid getting sick…
The best way to stay healthy and keep that immune system in tip top shape? A healthy lifestyle! Your whole body functions at its best when you’re getting plenty of sleep, eating plenty of whole foods (with lots of veggies), exercising most days, laying off the booze and kicking the smokes.
It's also super effective to take steps that help you avoid infection in the first place: things like washing your hands regularly, keeping cuts and blemishes clean and bandaged, cooking and storing food safely and in the case of COVID-19, social distancing.
You also want to keep up with any relevant vaccinations, which basically give your immune system licence to kill any baddies that come your way.
Manage that stress!
One intriguing area of study in this area is the effect of stress on the immune system. While the science is still developing, it appears that chronic stress (which let’s be honest, we ALL experience these days), is linked to a supressed immune response. This means the more stressed we become and the longer it goes on, the more susceptible we become to infections.
Take time to identify and try to reduce your stressors, and try some easy relaxation techniques like deep breathing, mediation or yoga to help reduce those nasty side effects.
On herbs and supplements
Sorry team: there just doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet vitamin that will boost immunity and stave off sickness.
While there are countless studies in this field, most don’t really turn up any significant evidence to support the use of herbs and supplements in the treatment of colds, flus and other illnesses. One of the more promising studies involving vitamin C showed it could reduce the duration of a cold by around 8% in adults, but it didn’t prevent the cold to begin with.
That said, if you reckon your C, Zinc, Garlic or Echinacea is doing you good, there also isn’t any harm in taking it at the recommended dosage!
What IS really important to note here that no supplement, diet, or lifestyle can protect us from COVID-19. Our best defence against this virus is social distancing, good hygiene and, when we can, getting vaccinated.