Most of us are likely to get at least 2-3 colds a year, with these primarily taking place in the winter or early spring. The winter months are a hotbed of seasonal flu and colds, even outside of the current pandemic. Lack of fresh air and the changing weather are just some of the reasons for an increased chance of catching a cold. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can stay safe this winter. The Talk Health Partnership shares advice on how to boost your immune system during the winter months.
‘Taking vitamin supplements during the winter can boost your immune system up a few notches’.
Pharmacist Stuart Gale from Oxford Online Pharmacy tells talkhealthpartnership.com. “Supplements can help provide some of the vitamins we are deficient in over the winter, like Vitamin D, which we normally get from the sun”
Vitamin C supplements can also help boost the immune system when it is more vulnerable, and Vitamin B can support overall cell health.
The winter months can dehydrate the body, with extra layers, cold weather and central heating sapping the skin of moisture. A recommended intake of 8-10 cups of water a day will keep your body hydrated and functioning at full capacity. Water helps boost the immune system by regulating body temperature, helping joints move, and helping the body flush out toxins. Staying hydrated will help you combat the winter colds and seasonal flu.
Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
While we do not need any extra sleep in the winter, maintaining at least eight hours of sleep a night is essential for supporting the immune system. Ditch the late-night parties and get yourself some shut-eye. However, make sure you don’t hibernate for the winter months as oversleeping can affect your brain activity and lead to long term health conditions like diabetes.
The colder weather makes us want to stay indoors snuggled up under a blanket. But regular exercise will help boost your immune system. Studies support that regular exercise helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses, regulates metabolism, and directly reduces the chance of illness. It’s worth remembering that too much exercise puts additional stress on the body, so be gentle with yourself this winter. Getting exercise outside will also help get you exposure to Vitamin D from the sun.
Eat A Balanced Diet
Over the winter, we all tend to eat more chocolate, drink more alcohol and overindulge – and there’s no reason we shouldn’t treat ourselves. But eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables will help us with natural vitamins like Vitamin C, D and E, which help boost our immune system. Iron supplements are a good alternative if you don’t eat meat over the winter months, as an iron deficiency can weaken the immune system.
Aerate Your Home
More so than ever we’ve all been at home over the past few winters, which increases the chance of dust particles and germ build-up. There’s even discussions of how carbon dioxide build-up in small spaces can affect concentration and the immune system. Allergies can be triggered in an unventilated home, which is why opening windows can help avoid allergic reactions, which weaken your immune system over time.
Wrap Up Warm
While being cold doesn’t directly make you sick, it weakens your body as it has to invest energy in keeping you warm. The body makes you shiver to generate more heat, which costs the body vital energy. If the body gets cold, it has to expend energy in maintaining your body temperature, which takes away from energy that could be directed to the body’s immune system. The cold also narrows blood vessels, which might make it harder for white blood cells to travel and fight off germs or infection. Wrap in layers that you can take off if you get too hot.
Eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vitamins, and combining this with vitamin supplements is the best way to boost your immune system. Staying hydrated will help regulate the body’s natural functions and remove toxins from the body. Exercising regularly in the fresh air will help strengthen the body’s defenses, but be sure to wrap up warm where possible. If you are spending a lot of time indoors, keep your home ventilated to ensure you have access to fresh air, and reduce the chance of germs or allergens gathering in your home.