For some of us, every season can feel like cold and flu season — and it blows. Literally. Life can seem to be one big wadded up ball of snotty tissue. It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. It’s gross AF.
All hope is not lost, though. If you seem to always be getting sick — or, if you just want to make sure you get sick as little as possible — read on. Here are 5 ways to boost your immune system that actually work.
Like this wasn't going to be on our list! Exercise has been scientifically shown to not only strengthen your muscles and heart, but also your immune system. As little as 20 minutes has an anti-inflammatory effect, and this will bolster your immunities. That's it: 20 minutes. A brisk walk, run or HIIT session will do the trick!
Duh, right? It seems obvious, but so many of us burn the candle at both ends and then wonder why we're getting sick all the time. Again, it seems to come back to inflammation and when we're sleep deprived inflammatory cytokines increase, which can lead to a higher risk of getting the cold or flu.
How much sleep is needed? It seems that the jury is out on the exact number, but 7-9 hours for adults seems to be the consensus among experts.
3. Get Enough of these Vitamins
You think we're going to say vitamin C, right? Well, we are. While there are no convincing studies to support the idea that vitamin C, specifically, can fight the common cold, if in adequate supply before you get sick, it can help bolster your immunities. Vitamin C is found in abundance in most fruits and vegetables, so if you’re eating a healthy diet, you shouldn’t need a supplement unless your doctor advises.
Other vitamins that are real heavy hitters when it comes to fortifying the immune system are vitamin A, which fights against infections; vitamin B6, which supports biochemical reactions in the immune system and vitamin E, which is a known healer.
Find vitamin A in..
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter Squash
- Collard Greens
Find vitamin B6 in…
- Whole grains
- Soya Beans
Find vitamin E in…
- Sunflower Seeds
- Pine Nuts
- Rainbow Trout
- Sweet Red Pepper
Last but not least, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. This is especially important in the winter months when we’re inside more and may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D has been shown to strengthen our immune systems and is one of the vitamins of which many of us do not get enough. 15 minutes outdoors a day is often enough to soak up enough of this important vitamin.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may need to supplement with any of these vitamins.
4. Get Your Zinc
Zinc has not only been shown to boost the immune system, but studies have shown that it can even shorten the lifespan of an infection. Zinc can be found in meat, legumes, seeds, nuts, shellfish, eggs, dairy and whole grains.
5. Get Busy
Need another reason to do it all for the nookie? Turns out that having sex 1-2 times a week results in having a higher concentration of antibodies that protect us against infections. Of course, if you don’t want to get other kinds of infections that are far more serious than the common cold, you need to be practicing safe, socially responsible sex.
Take these tips to heart and put them to practice to have a healthier, happier year, no matter what season it is! Share your own cold and flu busting tips with us in the comments.