Usually, your propensity to catch a cold at this time of year would be no big deal but now, with health top of mind, keeping your immune system in peak condition is a top priority.
Next to the World Health Organisation’s recommended guidelines, there are additional defensive steps you can take to ensure you put up the toughest shield possible this cold and flu season.
What does the immune system actually do?The immune system is a network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses, bacteria and foreign substances. On a day to day basis, it plays an integral role in the body, especially during volatile periods like high stress or burnout. So, from time to time, it does need a little support.
How to strengthen your immune system
The first line of defence against low immunity is to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when you lead a healthy life. The below guidelines are a great place to start:
1. Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants.
2. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Despite wanting to cuddle up with comfort food, winter is the perfect time to get fit and healthy! If time is of the essence or gym isn't an option, try a hard and fast workout at home or secretly exercise at work. If motivation is the problem, then why not try working out with your partner?
3. Consume alcohol in moderation. Despite what some might tell you, drinking alcohol most definitely does not ward off bugs and kill infectious bacteria!
4. Don't smoke.
5. Adequate sleep and low stress levels. Ever find a big night or stressful time at work catches up with you? There’s a reason for that: it decreases immunity. Get a good night's sleep and don't be so hard on yourself—allow yourself a sleep-in on the weekend.
6. Good hygiene. Think washing hands regularly, showering daily, disinfecting cooking surfaces and handling meat correctly.
7. Take supplements to fill in nutritional gaps. Whether you’re looking to ramp up your defences during cold and flu season or create long-term immune support to help prevent more serious diseases, supplements can definitely help.
The best immunity-boosting supplements:
Undeniably the most widely known of immunity boosters, vitamin C is a great year-round safeguard to ensure optimum health. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick! Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, capsicum, spinach, kale and broccoli. Adequate daily intake is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it. So, it’s always a good idea to supplement your diet with it in case you aren’t consuming enough. If you feel yourself coming down with something, we recommend upping your usual dose of vitamin C - don’t worry your body will naturally get rid of any excess that it doesn’t need.
Try: Sanderson Esterplex Vitamin C 1150mg, $19.99
This wonder mineral can be taken for a myriad of reasons, from acne and wound healing to digestion and immunity. Zinc is considered critical for a healthy immune system. The body requires it to develop and activate T-cells—important players in the immune system—and several studies have shown that even mild deficiencies can impair components of the immune system.
Try: Sanderson Triple Zinc FX, $11.99
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, probiotics are one of the most effective supplements for long-term support of the immune and digestive system. They’re particularly effective in treating bugs with symptoms of infectious diarrhoea and/or vomiting because they help to balance out the bacteria in your gut after it’s thrown out of whack.
Try: Sanderson ProbioFX Gut Restore, $6.99
Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine drug’, is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies seen in adults. With our harsh sun, we tend to over-protect ourselves than under-protect, which can mean we don’t obtain adequate levels of vitamin D. Research has established a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased autoimmunity (where the body attacks itself) as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.