Flu and cold symptoms are more prevalent at this time of year when the cold winter weather allows viruses to flourish.
Protecting yourself is even more important this year with the deadly Aussie flu making its way to the northern hemisphere.
One way to protect yourself is by ensuring your immune system is working properly.
The immune system is the network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend the body.
Here are eight ways to boost your immunity.
“Add a touch of immune-boosting magic to your diet by using garlic,” said Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.
“Garlic has been used for centuries and is known for its protective properties.
“Acting as a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, garlic boosts natural killer-cell activity and increases the efficiency of antibody production.”
Switch shower temperature
“Change the temperature of the water in your shower to either hot or cold every two minutes,” explained Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK (superfooduk.com).
“This helps to boost your immunity by increasing two types of white blood cells called Monocytes and Lymphocytes.
“The immune system is stimulated by your body trying to warm itself up from the cold water, while switching to hot water every now and then stimulates your body’s detoxification system.
“The fewer toxins we have in our body, the more your immune system is better able to deal with bacteria and viruses.”
“Your immune system relies on water,” advised Dr Glenville.
The water in our body carries nutrients to your cells, carries waste and toxins away from your cells and out of your body, keeps body temperature stable, protects joints and keeps the lining of your mouth hydrated and moist, reducing susceptibility to colds.
Drinking plenty of water will also help your body deliver nutrients, flush out waste and dilute mucus, helping to eliminate bacteria and viruses that can make you ill.”
Ditch the dairy
“Try to avoid dairy if you want to get better quicker and stay healthy, because as comforting as that warm milky drink is, it is a mucous forming and inflammatory product,” warned Alix Woods, nutritionist for Quest Nutra Pharma (qnutrapharma.com).
“If you have too much dairy it may take longer for you to shake off that bout of sinus or flu.”
Get enough sleep
“Poor sleep can affect the immune system so it’s crucial that you’re getting enough shut-eye,” said nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
“Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, so can help you fall into a peaceful sleep.
“Try and include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables.
“For a daily dose of magnesium I would also recommend Natures Plus Kalm Assure Magnesium Powder, available in an orange and pink lemonade flavour (£24.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk).”
Avoid sweet treats
“Another way to support our immunity is to ensure that we are not overloading our systems with too many anti-nutrient, low-nutrient culprit foods, like sugar,” explained Woods.
“It can have an inflammatory effect and feeds the yeasts and bacteria in our body, which can prolong a condition or illness.”
“A rub, a hug, and a passing touch can all help to decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body,” explained Wilkinson.
“Cortisol decreases your immune response, so snuggle up to a loved one and enjoy the immune boosting properties of an embrace.”
Get enough vitamin C
“Remember to eat five to eight portions of organic citrus, berry fruits, papaya, kiwi, peppers, broccoli or brussel sprouts everyday, as they are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C,” said Woods.
“Taking a vitamin C supplement is another effective way of supporting our immunity and making sure you’re getting enough of this nutrient.
“Vitamin C increases the body’s resistance to viruses, aids the recovery of muscles after exercise, helps with wound healing, bone strengthening and has energy giving properties.”