We have been misled to believe that there are times of the year when getting run down or sick is inevitable. It’s common belief that there is a ‘season’ where people are plagued by blocked noses and coughs and there is not a lot we can do about it. Our only hope is to keep our fingers crossed and prey we don’t catch anything. Is this really true? Do the viruses that cause cold and flu suddenly come out of hiding and attack?
The viruses that cause colds and flus are actually present throughout the year and are always being transmitted between people. The problem is, the way we behave at certain times of the year weakens our immune system. SO the cold and flus don’t suddenly rise up and go on a rampage, we just become more susceptible to catching them.
Here are some tips to naturally prevent colds and flus this winter:
- Supplement with Vitamin D
A deficiency in this vitamin is linked to increased susceptibility to infection. We’re more at risk of deficiency in vitamin D in the winter as the solar intensity is too low to make enough vitamin D from sunlight. So it’s super important to dose up of vit D up in these months.
- Keep your gut happy
80% of our immune system is located in our gut and it is the largest barrier between us and the viruses trying to get in and infect us. Over consumption of pro inflammatory, highly processed, sugary foods will damage your gut and can cause it to become leaky. This allows bugs and viruses to sneak through. So keep your gut as healthy as possible by giving it foods it loves – plenty of veg, quality animal products and a good probiotic are a great place to start.
- Get enough sleep
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night – chronic sleep deprivation can significantly reduce immune function. This time of year, with all the Christmas do’s and celebrations it’s easy to get less z’s then we need so try to prioritise early night and lay ins where you can.
- Manage your stress levels
Being chronically stressed leads to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, this can supress the normal immune system function. A lot of people get stressed this time of year, Christmas can bring with it many worries. So it’s really important to participate in healthy habits that manage stress – things like walking in nature, deep breathing, yoga and meditation are all great options.
- Limit your alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol intake slows your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Even people who drink heavily on just one occasion will affect their immunity. The holiday season is a period of excess but try not to overdo it if you wish to avoid catching a cold or the flu.
- Stay active
The shorter days and colder weather may put you off staying as active as you do in the summer, but getting plenty of regular exercise is essential for good immune function. Moderate exercise can help to reduce stress levels, we already know that too much stress is bad news for the immune system. Exercise and movement has a positive effect on every system in the body and the immune system is no exception.
I hope the above tips will help you to stay happy and healthy especially over the festive period!