Ways to give your immune system a boost this winter

With the colder months fast approaching and winter bugs set to be more prolific than usual this year we look at ways to give our immune systems a much-needed boost.

A healthy immune system goes a long way to help defend our bodies against sickness and there are several changes that we can make that can support better immune function.

Eat more healthily

As more than 70% of the body’s immune cells live in our gut it makes sense to look at ways to improve our diets. Focus on including more whole plant foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds into your diet as these foods are rich in antioxidants and can help decrease inflammation.

Fruit and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, kiwis, cauliflower and broccoli contain vitamin C which contribute to the normal function of the immune system. It is also important to eat enough healthy fats and protein such as lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, peas and soy products.

Stay hydrated

Ensure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and reduce your intake of sugary drinks, fruit juices, caffeine, and alcohol. Alongside water, you may like to top up your fluid intake with green tea which contains flavonoids that function as powerful antioxidants.

Get outside and sleep well

Natural light is a great way boost to your immune system so try and get outside at least once a day.
Exposure to daylight also helps towards setting a healthy circadian rhythm which will help you to sleep better. 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night is vital for good overall physical and mental health. If you are struggling to sleep then try setting a bedtime routine and go to bed at the same time each night.

If you are struggling to sleep then read our tips to improve your sleep.

Manage stress

Stress can be harmful as it can inhibit our immune system and so increase our chances of becoming ill.
While it is impossible to avoid stress completely, we can learn to identify the feelings of stress and try to manage them by employing and incorporating techniques into our day. Just a few minutes of mindfulness can help to boost our mood and our immune system. Yoga, meditation or some simple breathing exercises can all help.

Read here on ways to practice mindful breathing.

Take regular exercise

Regular but moderate exercise is one of the best ways to improve your health. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can stimulate our immune systems and improve our circulation.

Regular exercise can also help to de-stress which in turn can help boost our immune systems.

How much exercise should we be doing over 50?

Supplements may help

Supplements may not prevent you from succumbing to a bad cold or ‘flu but they may make it easier for your body to fight infection.

Try boosting your immunity with supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc.

However, if you think you may have a vitamin deficiency then take advice from your doctor and bear in mind that supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet.

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Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

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