Your health is one of the most valuable things you have — if not the most important.
This time of year, cold and flu season seems to run rampant with the shifts in weather and cooler temperatures. As people are often looking for additional ways to stay healthy and strong, we've compiled 5 simple and common-sense things you can do to keep your immune system strong:
1. Find A Way To Say No To Stress
If you want to stay healthy, then stress has got to go. You may not be surprised to learn that stress can devastate your immune system. The presence of stress can reduce the effectiveness of T-cells, which are responsible for invading infected cells in the body. Also, it can often lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms and lifestyle choices that further weaken your immunity.
Whatever it looks like for you, find ways to be intentional about relaxation. If you’re strapped for ideas, then go back to the basics: diet, exercise, meditation, and spending time with friends that will build you up. Also, if you want some quick inspiration, check out this article here, which lists 13 effective stress-busting techniques. You will find plenty of ideas to get your wheels turning.
2. Bypass Crowded Areas
Everyone has to do the basics—grocery shopping, filling up the car with gas, post office, etc—and that usually means droves of people. But if you can avoid it, try to steer clear of places where you have to be surrounded by others in close quarters. If you do end up in a big crowd, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands if you have to touch things like handrails, doorknobs, etc. One of the best preventative measures you can take against sickness is to avoid physical contact with people who may be contagious.
3. Get On The Mediterranean Diet
Rather than being a strict diet, the Mediterranean diet is more of a set of ingredient guidelines. It is based on the traditional dishes of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea: France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Morocco. Various studies have indicated that the Mediterranean diet supports brain, heart, joint health and may even help with weight loss.
Here are some simple guidelines to remember when choosing Mediterranean-friendly foods:
- Regularly: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
- In Moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
- Rarely: Red meat.
- Don’t Have: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, refined grains, refined oils and other processed foods.
4. Take Supplements for Immune Health
Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, recommends using the following supplements to keep the immune system functioning at its best:
- Vitamin C — May help prevent viral, bacterial and other infections by shortening the duration of colds and acting as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
- Vitamin D — Is one of the most important immune system-strengthening nutrients that can reduce the risk of colds and flu; this should be taken on a regular basis.
- Vitamin A — Can help support the body's ability to fight infections, especially with respiratory infections.
- Zinc — Can help reduce the number of infections and the duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.
- Selenium — Is a key nutrient for immune function and is easily obtained from foods like the Brazil nut. Selenium is also an antioxidant, which strengthens the body's defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells.
- Raw Honey — Is good at relieving minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes, like nose and mouth, and has antioxidant properties and some microbial effects; it is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to tea or hot water with lemon.
- Garlic & Garlic Supplements — May reduce the severity of upper viral respiratory infections and function in preventing viral infections of the common cold.
- Probiotics — Contain "good bacteria" that both support gut health and influence the function and regulation of the immune system. They also can decrease the number of respiratory infections, especially in children.
5. Keep your House Spick & Span
We often don’t realize how many germs can cover the surfaces of our homes. Here’s a fun fact for you: your cell phone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat! But your phone isn’t the only culprit: dinner tables, doorknobs or anything you handle on a regular basis can be a place where germs thrive. Be sure to load up on disinfectant wipes that you can run across these places. Also! If you regularly share a space with others, whether at home or the office, you could be extra vigilant about cleaning those surfaces. Think about computers, keypads, your mouse, and any other objects that others might be using. These may all need to be cleaned in order to safeguard yourself against the spread of germs.
A Healthy Lifestyle Goes a Long Way
If you’ve been sick in the last year, then you know how important a strong immune system is to your overall health. In addition to the 5 tips above, restorative Sleep and regular Exercise should be key components to your personal health system. To learn more, click here.