You have probably heard the old saying “prevention is the best medicine” and this is definitely true when talking about viral infections. Although your doctor can help you recover faster, it is important to have a good immune system in order to stay healthy during the cold and flu season, especially in winter. And here’s how to achieve that:
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP
The balancing of the hormones as well as the regeneration of cells, which are crucial for the immune system, both happen while you sleep. Moreover, the physical repair of body tissues it most efficient between 11 pm and 2 am.
Research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation has the same effects on the immune system as a mental/physical stress. So imagine what would the immune system of a stressed person who is not getting enough sleep looks like.
- AVOID FOOD YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO
When you ingest food that you are sensitive to, your immune system is alarmed. And if you regularly consume this food, your immune system becomes constantly active and is too busy dealing with the sensitive food in the guts instead of paying enough attention to the real pathogens in the body, such as the cold and the flu virus.
Do not confuse food sensitivity with allergy. Allergies usually cause an immediate anaphylactic reaction and require antihistamine medications while food sensitivity has more delayed effects and is not that symptomatic. Consult your doctor if you are not sure about your problem.
- LIMIT THE INTAKE OF SUGAR
You have probably already heard that too much sugar is bad for your health for many reasons. Concerning the immune system, it is not good to consume too much sugar because:
1) It will increase the levels of the hormone insulin, which as time goes by will contribute to systemic inflammation and cause immune system depression.
2) By limiting the intake of sugar, you are also limiting the growth of bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that actually thrives on sugar and negatively affect the immune system.
It is never too late to make changes in your lifestyles, especially ones that are good for your health. So don’t hesitate and replace sugary foods with something healthier.
- BE ACTIVE
Regular physical activity is very important for a healthy immune system. Although it can be pretty difficult to start, think of the positive side- you will improve your immune system and lose weight at the same time!
- KEEP STRESS IN CHECK
You have probably noticed that people usually get sick after the peak of a stressful time, such as a hard week at work, exam period or family obligations. This happens because when the body is under extreme stress, it responds by increasing the levels of the hormone cortisol.
And although in the short term this is normal, in the long term it can suppress the immune system and make your body susceptible to cold and flu pathogens.
So, how to keep the levels of stress in check? Try to avoid stressful situations and encounters as much as you can and follow the above-mentioned points – sleep well, eat well and exercise!