Cold and flu season is upon us, but it doesn't mean that you need to spend the season sniffling.
Catching a cold or the flu isn't inevitable as soon as the season hits. It has a lot to do with the strength of your immune system, which can be dependent on a lot of factors.
Some of these factors include:
- Sleep amount and quality
- Stress levels
- Work environment
Sometimes, life can just happen and you end up feeling under the weather (usually thanks to that person who coughed into their hand before grabbing that door handle). But a strong immune system doesn't just keep you from getting sick, it helps you to battle illness more quickly when you do.
1. Pick a bedtime, and stick with it!
Adequate sleep is essential (I repeat, ESSENTIAL) to a strong immune system. When you sleep soundly each night, you let everything rest and rejuvenate. This balances out hormone levels, and keeps your body's energy focused on what really matters: killing off the bad bugs.
2. Skip the orange juice.
Sorry to tell you, but that box of Tropicana that you bought in hopes that you would cure your sniffles? It isn't giving you the Vitamin C like you think it is.
Regular, store-bought orange juice is pasteurized, meaning heat is applied to it during the processing. This heat actually kills off a lot of the usable Vitamin C in the juice, leaving you with mainly sugar.
Choose whole foods rich in Vitamin C, like citrus foods, leafy greens, and berries (which are also high in additional antioxidants).
3. Reach for antioxidant-rich foods
First, antioxidants are important for your body to fight off things called free-radicals. These free radicals cause issues in our bodies as they can attack and change our good cells. This means our body uses energy to try to repair these cells rather than building an immune response to a virus or infection.
Antioxidants include: Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the minerals selenium and zinc.
Here are a few sources of each:
Vitamin A: carrots, squash, spinach and tomatoes.
Vitamin C: citrus fruits, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E: nuts, seeds and whole grains like quinoa and oats.
Selenium: seafood, brazil nuts, and eggs.
Zinc: oysters, red meat, and poultry.
Exercise does more than just make you look great. It helps to get your blood pumping, boosts your energy levels, and helps you to better manage stress. All of these help to boost your immune system and keep you feeling strong.
When you do start feeling under the weather, give yourself permission to relax a little. Maybe swap out for a yoga class, or do some gentle stretching at home! This will help to keep your blood moving and fighting the infection.