We’re now right at the start of the season when winter bugs are going to start biting. Even though it’s pretty much inevitable that we’re all going to give into them at some point, we can reduce the damage we do by taking steps to boost our immune system to give our bodies the best possible chance of fighting off the winter nasties. Here are three ways to go about doing this.
Put the brakes on bad habits
It’s all very well saying that the three pillars of health are good diet, exercise and sleep, but in the real world, life can easily get in the way. This is particularly true in winter when a lot of us feel drawn to comfort food, even when we know it’s bad for us. That’s before we start looking at the effects of festive socializing, which often involves alcohol and treat (read unhealthy) food. It’s also a time when curling up in front of the TV can seem a whole lot more appealing than getting active. In theory we should avoid all these kinds of unhealthy habits, but what’s life without a little fun? The trick is to moderate them. If you want a hot, comforting dessert, have a fruit-based one. If you want alcohol, change to lighter drinks such as shandy instead of beer, spritzer instead of wine and spirits with a lot of mixer in them, or alternate between alcoholic drinks and soft ones. If you can’t be bothered heading to the gym, then get a workout DVD you can use in your own home.
Harness the power of nature
Orange juice is a classic cold remedy and it’s true that the vitamin C can be very helpful. Interestingly, there are actually a number of winter vegetables which are also packed full of vitamin C than oranges, these include potatoes (and sweet potatoes) and many green, leafy, vegetables such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. For extra benefit (and flavour) and herbs and spices which are known for boosting the immune system. Garlic and ginger are both hugely useful here and go well with many dishes, in fact ginger can be used in both savory and sweet foods. If you don’t like the taste of either or both of these, they are also widely available in other forms such as tablets and capsules. Elderberry is another great immunity-boosting food, although it’s more commonly enjoyed as a drink. Again, if you don’t like it, look for tablets or capsules. Echinacea has become almost synonymous with winter since it is just so good at helping to ward off (or fight off) infections. It’s available from health food shops in various forms including soluble tablets for a pleasant-tasting and healthy drink.
Make the most of steam
Steam has all sorts of health benefits all year round but is particularly helpful in the colder months. When temperatures get drop, it’s easy for us to start getting sluggish and actually some of the clothes we wear to protect us against the weather can impact on the circulation, for example tight-fitting thermals can slow down blood flow. Heath-wise, therefore, it’s really important to get the body (and the blood) moving again. Steam is great for this and there’s an added bonus. Viruses tend to have a limited range of temperatures in which they can survive. The heat of steam, therefore, can do them a lot of damage or even vanquish them completely. On top of all this, steam helps to boost the immune system. There are various reasons for this but one of the most important is that steam (and the corresponding heat) encourages total mental and physical relaxation. It therefore combats stress and promotes sleep. Stress is a huge drain on our immune systems, while sleep is vital to them and the hectic pace of the festive season can make it only too easy to end up in poor sleeping patterns.
This article was written by Sam Socorro from Clearwells. She has over 10 years’ experience in writing health related topics and specializes in the health benefits of saunas and hydrotherapy