Unfortunately, cold and flu season is still upon us and can last as late as March! To avoid catching a cold this season, boost your immune system with these seven simple tips.
1. Eat dark chocolate
The news everyone wants to hear: chocolate is good for you and can help our immunity! Raw cacao – the main raw ingredient used to make chocolate – is high in plant compounds called flavanols. These stimulate our body’s antioxidant defences, helping to protect against those pesky winter colds. To reap the benefits, go dark – nutritionist Cassandra Barns recommends at least 70 percent cacao – and choose raw chocolate.
2. Drink plenty of water
“Your immune system relies on water. It carries nutrients to your cells, carries waste and toxins away from your cells and out of your body, keeps body temperature stable, protects joints and keeps the lining of your mouth hydrated and moist, reducing susceptibility to colds. Drinking plenty of water will also help your body deliver nutrients, flush out waste and dilute mucus, helping eliminate bacteria and viruses that can make you ill,” explains Dr Mailyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist (www.glenvillenutrition.com).
3. Add some garlic
“Add a touch of immune-boosting magic to your diet by using garlic. Garlic has been used for centuries and is known for its protective properties. Acting as a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, garlic boosts natural killer-cell activity. Whilst also increasing the efficiency of antibody productions,” explains Marilyn.
4. Up your heart rate
Exercise helps to reduce the impact of the stress hormones, which can make us more vulnerable to colds and flu. “Normally, when these hormones are released we are in ‘fight or flight’ mode and we are going to spring into action. So, when we are active this actually helps dissipate the stress hormones instead of them building up and causing havoc on the immune function,” explains Marilyn.
5. Eat oats to end the day
As well as being a good way to start the day, oats can be a great way to end the day. Surprisingly, your body requires energy to sleep, as well as to be active. The slow-releasing carbohydrates in oats drip-feed your cells with energy throughout the night and can stop your blood sugar falling too low and waking you up. The carbohydrates can also help the amino acid tryptophan to cross into your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
6. Change your mindset
“Have you ever dragged yourself to the gym when you’ve felt a bit run down because you have a holiday looming? Or eaten a whole cake because you already ruined your diet with sugar in your coffee? Having an ‘all or nothing’ mindset can have detrimental to your health and be a sign of perfectionism. Instead, be compassionate with yourself and listen to your body by allowing yourself to find a happy grey area that you can operate in,” explains Isabella Venour, Mindset & Marketing Coach (www.mind-style.co.uk).
7. Have a cold shower
“A simple way to boost your immunity and mindset is to start the day with a cold shower. In fact, your immune system is stimulated by increasing white blood cells as your body tries to warm itself up from the cold water so that it is better able to deal with bacteria and viruses. By quickly changing the temperature, it can shock the body into increasing the release of the hormone norepinephrine in the blood that has a positive influence on focus, attention and mood,” explains Isabella.