Our immune system is made up of all the different things our body uses to fight off illnesses and infections: cells, antibodies, and all these other amazing things which work to keep us healthy. Generally speaking, our immune system does a fantastic job of working alongside the harmless germs, which also live in our bodies, while making sure to eliminate any more harmful germs and bugs that can cause illness.
Common illnesses, such as the vomiting bug and cold and flu, are more prevalent in the winter months. It can be hard to avoid catching these illnesses, and it is likely that many of us will pick them up over the course of the winter months.
There are so many different strains of the viruses which cause these illnesses – over 200 – which means it is hard to eradicate and avoid them completely. They are easily spread from person to person via tiny droplets which are coughed or sneezed into the air or by picking up mucus droplets which find their way onto hands and surfaces. If you want to minimise your chances of picking up a bug this winter, then here are 5 top tips for boosting your immune system and put it in a better position for fighting off any illnesses you do pick up.
Practice Good Hygiene
After the COVID-19 outbreak, we should all be washing our hands more and practising good hygiene on a much more regular basis. Coming into contact with a surface which has been contaminated with bacteria and germs, or even in direct contact with a person who is sick, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can lead to you picking up whatever illness it is they have.
Regular hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from picking up any bugs or illnesses and is vital for avoiding cross-contamination. Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds, with soap and warm water, and be sure to dry your hands thoroughly afterwards – wet hands can help bacteria to spread.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
It has been proven that getting a good night’s sleep will help you to fight off infections. Lack of sleep can cause your immune system to go into overdrive, very much in the same way that stress affects our bodies. Stress and lack of sleep have an impact on the production of your body’s lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells that help to fight off infection. If you have low levels of lymphocytes in your body, then you are more susceptible to picking up bugs and illnesses, including cold sores and the cold and flu virus. Here are some recommended tips to help you sleep better at night. Be sure to read them.
Eating A Balanced Diet
During the winter months, be sure to stock up on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, even though it may be tempting to eat stodgier and unhealthy foods. Making sure that your body gets all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that it needs will help make sure you are not putting additional stress on your body and your immune system, especially if you do get ill.
Eating vitamin-c rich foods, such as kiwis and oranges, can help the way your body protects itself, especially over winter. Whilst the effectiveness of vitamin C is not yet proven to have an effect on your immune system, it is believed that it increases the production of white blood cells, which are key for the way your body fights infections. Vitamin C is also an effective antioxidant, and, as our bodies don’t produce this naturally, it is important to find a natural way you can add it to your daily diet.
Protecting Children & Family
Children always seem to pick up more bugs and illnesses over the winter, especially if they are at pre-school or school age. Our immune systems need to learn and build up tolerance, so thankfully, as children age, they are less likely to pick up as many nasty bugs and germs as our bodies remember how to fight them off before they become an issue. Teaching your children about basic, general hygiene is a great way to minimise the risk of them picking anything up, but ensuring they eat a healthy diet and plenty of sleep will also help them.
Making sure that your family are also eating healthy during the winter months is important, too. Whether you’ve got weaning babies or stubborn older relatives, ensuring that you’re all eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to protect all of you. Now is a great time to introduce new foods to your baby if they are weaning (just be sure to invest in a weaning bib to minimise the mess!), as a lot of winter-ripe fruits and vegetables are great textures and tastes for babies to get used to. If you have children that are fussy eaters, blending fruits into smoothies and adding secret vegetables into meals, such as soups or pasta sauces, is a good way to make sure they are eating their 5 a day.
Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the easiest ways to make sure your body is primed to fight off any illnesses or infections. Making sure you get some exercise every day is not only making sure that your body is fit but your mind too. Cut down on smoking and alcohol consumption, if it applies, and make sure you are getting fresh air for at least 30 minutes a day, especially during the darker winter months.