It’s that time of year again; when the office is full of coughing employees, and the work environment sounds more like a doctor’s waiting room than a place of business. We can thank the various strains of influenza, common colds, multiple stomach bugs, and all of the many other viruses that rapidly spread during the winter months for this unpleasant phenomenon.
Every year during this season, we know illness is coming, and while many of us get our vaccinations hoping to avoid catching the flu, sometimes shots just aren’t enough. Fortunately, there are many things every person can do to bolster the immune system and decrease the chances of catching a virus.
Below are 6 recommended ways to boost the immune system:
1. Wondrous Water—
In order for all of the systems in the body to perform at top strength, they need to be adequately hydrated. Think of water as the oil for every engine in your body, because without it, nothing can run smoothly.
Dehydration weakens the immune system by forcing the body to spend too much energy on inadequately hydrated and inefficiently running internal systems, stealing valuable virus-fighting resources.
Most experts recommend at least 8 glasses a day, but if you want to drink more, go right ahead. Your body will thank you by removing toxins faster to fight off disease.
2. Splendid Sleep—
Everyone is different: some people can function on 6 hours of sleep, and others are worthless without a solid 8 or 9 hours. You can tell how much rest you need by how you feel, so be sure to make sufficient sleep a top priority during flu season.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, experts recommend cutting out all caffeine by 2 p.m. every day, turning off screens and bright lights 1-2 hours before bedtime, and if needed, a melatonin supplement can help the body realize it’s time for bed.
3. Stress Less—
Stress drastically reduces the immune system’s ability to ward off illnesses, making it crucial to find ways to relax.
For some, stress relievers like a walk, warm bath or meditation can help, but if home remedies aren’t cutting it, be sure to get professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist. There’s no point in going through life feeling anxious, and if untreated, chronic stress can adversely affect overall health.
Stress hormones like cortisol can also trigger negative reactions like weight gain, so the less of these negative substances produced by the body, the better – especially when contagious viruses are spreading amongst the general population
4. Excellent Exercise—
Great for reducing stress and promoting good sleep, exercise also helps keep us strong by improving cardiovascular health, releasing positive mood endorphins and controlling weight.
Exercise strengthens the immune system by increasing circulation, which allows immune system cells to move through the entire body to perform more efficiently.
5. Protective Probiotics—
Our intestines contain bad and good bacteria that can hinder or promote certain biological processes. If you’ve ever taken antibiotics, you’ve eliminated all of the bacteria—both good and bad—making it extremely important to replace the good bacteria (called probiotics).
Probiotics are the helpful intestinal flora generally delivered in yogurt, kefir, fermented food or supplement form that assist in bodily functions like digestion, calcium absorption and brain function.
Probiotics have also been shown to reduce allergies and enhance the immune system, so replenishing the good bacteria in your digestive tract can be a powerful way to keep the illnesses away.
6. Fighting Foods—
It’s important to eat a nutritious diet all year long, as this has been proven to help us stay healthy, but some foods are believed to be immune system-boosters as well.
Garlic, for example, is known for having natural antimicrobial properties that fight infection, with studies showing those who frequently include garlic in their diets catch fewer contagious illnesses.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known for reducing inflammation, fighting infection and boosting immune function. Fish, walnuts and flaxseed are a few common foods high in Omega-3s, but supplements are also available.
Antioxidant-rich foods and beverages like berries, dark chocolate and green tea are well known for creating a powerful immune system, so be sure to ingest extra antioxidants daily during peak flu season.
A weakened immune system can lead to more illnesses, allergies and sicknesses, making it important to keep it in tip-top shape no matter what the season. Use the helpful tips above to boost your immune system so you can stay healthy all year long and avoid catching viruses like the flu.