By Lisa Peco
Cold and flu season may be in full swing but that doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down. You can help your body fight off a cold or flu by keeping your immune system strong with these natural immunity boosters.
Keep Stress in Check
Chronic stress has long been known to affect health and make us more susceptible to disease and viruses. Reducing stress doesn’t only help make life more enjoyable, but it can also get your immune system to work more efficiently. There are several ways that you can reduce stress in your life, from prioritizing tasks so you have more free time to taking a walk or talking to a friend.
Get Some Exercise
You don’t need to jump into an intense fitness regime to reap the health benefits of exercise. Making the effort to exercise just 30 minutes a day, a few days a week can go a long way in boosting your immunity and improving your overall health. Exercise improves circulation, lowers your risk of disease, and makes you feel good while lowering stress levels.
Get Enough Hot and Cold Fluids
Hydration is something we tend to not think about in the colder months yet getting enough fluids can actually help you fight off colds and flu. Along with drinking the recommended 8-12 glasses of water each day, drinking hot clear fluids, such as broth and tea, can help your nose move germs out more efficiently and lower your risk of getting sick. A 2008 study published in the medical journal, Rhinology, also found that hot drinks do improve nasal airflow and provide immediate relief of cough, running nose, chills and other cold and flu symptoms.
Add Probiotics to Your Diet
Keeping your gut healthy can be as simple as adding probiotics to your diet which will go a long way in boosting your body’s ability to ward off infection. Cultured foods and fermented beverages can help you restore the balance of healthy bacteria, such as kefir and sauerkraut, which are available in most grocery stores. You can also find probiotic supplements in most health food and drug stores.
Cut Back On Sugar
Consuming high amounts of refined sugar can wreak havoc on your health and even just 75g can suppress your body’s immune response and 100g has been shown to lower your white blood cells ability to fight infection by as much as 40 percent. Read labels when choosing foods and be especially careful when it comes to drinks as many contain higher amounts of sugar than most realize.
Eat Orange-Colored Foods
If you want to boost your immune system while enjoying some tasty foods, choose foods that are orange. Oranges, sweet potato, carrots, and squash are packed with vitamins A, B6, and C—all of which keep the immune system strong. Adding some other richly-colored fruits and veggies, such as spinach, kale, and berries can also help you ward off colds, flu, and disease.
While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of some of the herbal remedies sold in stores for colds and flu, there are some herbs that have been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system. Echinacea is one such herb, which thanks to naturally occurring polysaccharides may increase the number of infection-fighting white blood cells your body produces. It also contains antiviral and antibacterial properties, as does garlic, elderberry, and ginger.
Along with these immunity boosters, you can also help keep colds and flu away with regular handwashing, regularly disinfecting common surfaces, and living a healthy lifestyle.