Winter is coming… It’s that time of the year where you start to notice people sniffling, sneezing, coughing and blowing their noses. The colder weather always seems to bring with it an influx of cold and flu outbreaks doesn’t it?!
Well, the main reason for this is because your immune system isn’t quite firing on all cylinders, which means (particularly for the elderly and the very young) it cannot keep the nasties at bay like it could if it was fighting fit!
We’ve outlined five things you can start to incorporate in your daily life to help get your immune system strong, so you can avoid time lost running around with the grandkids, playing for your team, or going to work… Yes, you DO love to work!
1. EAT PLENTY OF NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS: It seems an obvious statement, but it really is that simple. Fill out your diet with foods rich in antioxidants (specifically those rich in vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals zinc and selenium).
They help your body fight off those cell-damaging ‘free radicals’ that naturally occur in the body as a result of the body using oxygen to function. Examples of antioxidant-rich foods include fruit and vegetables (such as carrots, citrus fruits, capsicum, broccoli), almonds and brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, meat, shellfish and legumes.
2. GO GREEN: No, we aren’t talking politics, we are referring to your choice of tea (a much less stressful choice don’t you think?!). Green tea is packed full of antioxidants called ‘catechins’ which have been shown to improve immune function.
Green tea is steamed rather than fermented (like black tea) and so retains a higher antioxidant content than its black sibling. Green all the way!
3. EXERCISE REGULARLY: It has been shown that regular, moderate-intensity exercise can help to strengthen your immune system by improving the circulation of immune cells, allowing them to work more efficiently.
But, too much high-intensity exercise can have the opposite effect. So we suggest regularly going for a jog, swim, or gym session (whatever you love doing), but everything in moderation!
4. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP: It has happened to all of us. Early mornings, late nights, chaotic lifestyles, not enough hours in the day! The daily grind continues and then BOOM – you’re hit with a terrible cold.
Your body needs sleep to recover, repair and strengthen. If you aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis, your immune system may weaken, leaving you unable to fight off those horrible germs. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of good sleep, every night.
5. ALWAYS FIND TIME TO LAUGH: When you laugh, your ‘happy’ hormones are released and you ultimately feel good, providing a great way to escape daily stress. Prolonged stress can lead to your immune system becoming depressed and weakened, leaving you open to an array of health issues.
We recommend at least 1000 laughs a day… Yeah OK, we’re joking, but how about regularly taking in a comedy show? Or find other ways to de-stress, such as meditation, yoga and practising mindfulness.
We hope we’ve helped you to see how important it is to have a high-flying immune system. Keep it strong and there’ll be nothing stopping you from leading an active, fulfilling life.
Whatever your goal is, being able to look after the grandkids every week, or playing 80 minutes on the footy pitch, your physio will be able to advise you on ways to stay healthy, whatever the issue!
- Webster-Gandy, J., Madden, A., Holdsworth, M. eds. 2012. Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Healthline. 2019. 15 Foods That Boost the Immune System. [Online]. [Accessed 02 May 2019]. Available from here.
- Simpson, RJ. et al. 2015. Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions. In: Bouchard, C. ed. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science. Burlington: Academic Press.
- Harvard Health Publishing. 2018. How to Boost Your Immune System. [Online]. [Accessed 02 May 2019]. Available from here.
- Healthline. 2016. Fun Facts About the Immune System. [Online]. [Accessed 04 May 2019]. Available from here.