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5 ways to boost immunity during cold and flu season

Published in Family Medicine, For the Health of It, Influenza
  1. Watch the sugar - The holiday season is full of sweet temptations, but beware! Sugar impairs the immune system within 30 minutes of ingestion and lasts for up to 6 hours. In addition, glucose and vitamin C actually compete for insulin to facilitate absorption into our cells. Look for low sugar sources of vitamin C such as berries, red bell peppers and broccoli.
  2. Eat your veggies - Colorful carotene rich foods such as dark leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, yellow and orange squash, red peppers and tomatoes boost our immune system. Carotenes protect the thymus gland which is responsible for many immune system functions.
  3. Get your rest, reduce stress - Many of us already know stress is bad for us. Chronic stress decreases the body’s immune function. Simple choices each day such as taking 5 minutes of quiet time in the morning, planning a regular bedtime or engaging in a relaxing, quiet activity you enjoy can help reduce stress and give your body the rest and recovery it needs to stay healthy.
  4. Fresh Air - Get out of that germ filled office and breathe in some fresh air. Exercise helps the body increase production of immune fighter cells such as natural killer cells and neutrophils. Take a walk in the woods. Studies suggest that trees give off substances called phytoncides which have antimicrobial properties.
  5. Love - Research has shown people suffering with a common cold who experience positive and loving interactions have less severe symptoms, and recover faster. Don’t forget to love yourself! Numerous studies show that increased self-compassion helps boost immune function.

Feel a cold coming on? Make yourself a cup of tea, rest and practice a little self-love. Here is a great tea recipe if you’re feeling under the weather.

  • 1 inch slice of fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ of fresh lemon (juiced)
  • 1 cup of hot water

*If you need a little sweet, raw honey has antiviral properties but be sparing as increased glucose levels inhibit our immune system.