Many people become more susceptible to sickness as the temperature drops ahead of winter due to the dryer air and lower relative humidity, which creates a breeding ground for germs. Here are some immune-boosting tips to help you stay healthy throughout the colder months ahead.
Make Smart Lifestyle Choices
Properly supporting your immune system before winter arrives gives your body a better chance of fighting off illness during this season of sniffles and sneezes. Your immune system functions better when you make lifestyle choices that benefit your entire body, and your most important immune-boosting strategy is to adopt a series of healthy habits throughout the year. These can include:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Avoid unnecessary stress
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a wholesome diet rich in fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats
It’s also important to get regular medical tests and screenings for potential illnesses like blood pressure and cholesterol.
Feast on Immune-Boosting Foods
Making healthy, immunity-boosting food choices before and during winter can keep you healthy. Here are some foods to add to your diet.
- Garlic is one of the most potent infection-fighting foods. It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and contains calcium, vitamin B1, B6 and C, iron, potassium and over 100 sulphuric compounds which help eradicate bacteria and infection.
- Onion is rich in vitamin C and contains quercetin, a nutrient that breaks up mucus and boosts your immune system.
- Mushrooms are low in kilojoules and rich in minerals, mushrooms increase the production of cytokines, which help fight off infection.
- Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits and limes are jam-packed with vitamin C, which helps fight bacteria and viruses. Other fruits high in vitamin C include butternut squash, tomatoes, broccoli, papaya, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and peppers.
- Yoghurt containing the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri specifically help boost the immune system.
- Grains like oats and barley contain fibre that boosts your immunity and speeds up the healing of wounds.
- Seafood contains selenium, which eradicates flu viruses. Omega-3 rich fish like salmon, mackerel and herring help reduce inflammation, increase airflow and protect the body from colds and respiratory infections.
- Avocado supports the adrenal function and keeps your immune system healthy as they contain essential amino acids and antioxidants.
Adequate hydration has a huge impact on your immune system. Drinking water not only helps oxygenate your blood but it also assists the body in expelling harmful toxins. Water also facilitates the production of lymph in the body, which helps circulate white blood cells and nutrients to the body’s tissues. Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water daily.
Green tea is another beverage with immune-boosting benefits because of its powerful antioxidants, known as polyphenols, which are believed to give this tea its infection-fighting properties. A cup of steaming ginger tea is another way to strengthen the body against infection because this powerful root helps break down toxins in the organs, specifically the lungs and sinuses.
Invest In Smart Supplements
Boosting your diet with certain immune-strengthening supplements is another way to help keep you healthy through any season. Here are some supplements to stock up on:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D and vitamin A
- EPA/DHA-rich fish or krill oil
Don’t let getting sick affect your training programme and fitness goals. Take the correct measures to strengthen your body’s immune system and ensure that you enjoy an active and healthy winter season in the months ahead.
To help you do just that, we’ve put together a fitness girl’s winter survival guide in the May/June issue of the magazine. The guide includes tips and advice to help you get through the colder months healthy, fit and strong!
Get your copy in stores nationwide, or get the digital version here.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.