Boosting your immune system is the best defense to fight colds, flu, and more. According to experts, it’s easier than you think to make improvements that fend off coughs and sneezes.
Here, according to Better Homes and Gardens, are eight simple steps you can take:
- Exercise. Too many folks slack off during the winter months and use the cold weather as an excuse to skip the gym. But studies have shown that exercise strengthens your resistant to illness by causing the immune cells to circulate at a higher rate. Exercise is also a powerful stress reducer and since stress leads to inflammation and illness, you get a double dose of protection. A mere 20 minutes of moderate exercise supplies this anti-inflammatory effect that helps your immune system.
- Protect your gut. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that people who have more healthy bacteria in their gut tend to get sick less often. Their research has shown bacteria from probiotics help strengthen the cells in the immune system.
- Vitamin D. This super vitamin fuels your body’s T cells which ward off bacteria and viruses. Research shows that nearly half of all people have a vitamin D deficiency by the end of winter. Foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish, milk, egg yolks and fortified orange juice.
- Spend time with nature. Tear yourself away from the screen and take your cup of coffee outside. University of Illinois environment and behavior scientist Ming Kuo, Ph.D., says that spending time outdoors helps relax the body and mind and can protect you against a number of health issues.
- Be snack savvy. Colorful vegetables and fruit like berries contain powerful antioxidants that keep the immune system strong by neutralizing damaging free radicals. Research has also found that the soluble fiber found in nuts, fruits, veggies and oats help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system
- Use a humidifier in the bedroom. This helps keep your mucous membranes from drying out and making them more vulnerable to infection.
- Get your sleep. “The functioning of your immune system is intimately tied to the amount and quality of sleep,” says W. Chris Winter, M.D. author of “The Sleep Solution.” The less sleep you get, the more depressed your immune system becomes. Aim for at least seven hours nightly.
- Eat garlic. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative health, garlic is widely recognized as a natural infection fighter. Garlic can also lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries, says cardiologist Dr. Matthew Budoff, who conducted research on the health benefits of aged garlic extract.