By: George Knowles
Do you dread the end of hot weather? For some people, sunshine and warm temperatures are real motivators. Summer months promote more physical activity, social involvement and overall healthier lifestyles. When temperatures drop, not only are we less active and social, but we spend much more time indoors, an environment where viruses can thrive.
Immunity is a major concern during colder months. If our immune system is not strong, we are more likely to catch a cold or a virus. When the immune system fails to put up with its tasks, the possibilities of more serious health issues can arise. Luckily, there are ways for us to prevent these viruses from arising altogether by boosting our immunity with simple tweaks in our lifestyle.
Research has revealed that our lifestyle is intricately linked with how the immune system performs. Ongoing research continues to explore how lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and work affects the immune system, both in animals and in humans.
Here are 8 crucial lifestyle strategies to adopt in order to help boost your immune system this winter:
1. Get an influenza shot:
Getting an influenza shot is a great way to prepare you in advance, to fight the risk of flu. With a shot of influenza, you can reduce the risk of catching the flu by a whopping 50%-60%. According to medical physicians, everyone, from ages 6 months and older, should roll up their sleeves and get inoculated.
Take the vaccination in either October or November, when the flu season begins. You can inoculate with a quadrivalent, that protects your immune system against four different viruses and offers enhanced protection. It includes a nasal spray version, which is approved for ages 2 to 49. There is also a trivalent shot that protects you against three viruses.
2. Wash your hands and add hand sanitizer to your shopping basket
We all know that frequent hand washing kills germs and prevents bacteria that can actually make you sick. However, you can’t have a sink, soap, and water all the time. Squirting some hand sanitizer can be an alternative. According to a study, people who carry hand sanitizer with them have lesser stomach bugs than nonusers.
Stash a bottle in your purse everytime you go out. Make sure, you have enough gel to make your hands feel damp, even after rubbing.
3. Avoid touching other’s pens
Cold and flu are contagious diseases that spread via hand-to-hand contact, so it is advisable to avoid public objects including the communal pen and other stationary at the bank or office. Stock up your pens and avoid picking others' if you want to keep yourself free from viruses.
4. Reduce stress
When you challenge your physical and mental health, you become hyper alert and your body starts guarding you against enemies, whether it’s a predator or a virus. If you’re leading a stressful life, it can directly affect your immunity and raise your blood pressure and risk of heart disease. On the flip side, if you reduce stress, you are protecting your immunity and overall health.
5. Boost your diet or add a multivitamin
Due to poor diet, our body lacks some essential vitamins like A, B6, B12, C and D, and minerals such as zinc, calcium, folic acid, selenium, and chromium. Boost your diet by including more plant-based foods and meals. If you find this to be tough, try adding a high quality multivitamin to your daily eating habits.
6. Keep moving
Undeniably, it is one of toughest tasks to head outdoors in the freezing mornings. But, if you motivate yourself to keep active, you'll be supporting your health and wellbeing. You can opt for indoor exercises like yoga, brisk walks, climbing the stairs, or any indoor sport to keep you warm as well as healthy.
7. Sleep well
It is essential to get proper sleep during winter months, as during sleep, our body produces some essential flu-fighting antibodies in the blood that offer enhanced protection that even right food, supplements, or vaccinations won't offer. According to the University of Chicago, people who sleep for less than 8 hours, have half the antibodies in their blood as compared to someone who sleeps for 8 hours or more, and thus, tend to have a weak immune system.
Try to limit the use of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, as they have been found to disrupt your sleep pattern. Exercise and stress management will also help improve sleep.
8. Drink lots of water:
During winter, it is common to forget to drink water, as when the temperature drops, our thirst decreases. Water is essential for our body to function properly and we should be drinking approximately 64 ounces of water/liquid every day. If plain water is not what you like, try herbal tea, which is available in many flavours in the market.
Photo Source: Pop Sugar
Editor: Dr. Francesca Vazquez
George Knowles loves to be called “Health Guru” by both his colleagues and friends as he helps his clients with tips to stay healthy and fit. He works as a health and home heating expert at Great Rads. He also an avid blogger specializing in the lifestyle and health niches.