Top tips to boost your immune system

Winter woes be gone!

Winter usually brings with it loads of sniffles and sneezes, coughs and other assorted flu aches. But there’s no need to succumb to winter well-being woes… A healthy immune system will ensure that you and your family are healthy enough to battle the onslaught of winter bugs.

Here are some of the top tips we’ve found to help you boost your immune system, naturally.

Don’t skimp on ZZZZ’s

Sleeping and your immune system go hand in hand.  Whilst sleep won’t keep you from getting sick it will aid in building your immune system. In a study of 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours were less sick than those who got less sleep.
Adults should aim to get 7 hours of sleep, whilst teens need to get between 8 and 10 hours and children between 10 and 12 hours of sleep.

To sleep better, you need to make sleep ‘n priority. Decide on a sleep schedule and stick to it, even during the weekend. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual to help your body, and brain, to start switching off and make sure your room is dark and the ideal temperature. Alcohol and caffeine are known as the silent sleep thieves, so avoid these a few hours before you hit the sack.

Crush those stress levels

Prolonged mental and physical stress suppress the immune response and promotes inflammation as well as cause an imbalance in the immune cell function.  So it reduces the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens.
Stress, however, has a way to silently creep up on you, for this reason, it is best to build activities into your day that help you manage your stress before it gets too bad.

High-intensity exercise. Add a 30-minute moderate exercise routine into your mornings.
Relaxing exercise. Add a 20-minute Yoga, stretching and breathing exercise routine to your bedtime routine.
Write what you are grateful for, memories and even your worries in your journal daily.

Share your woes with a friend. A burden shared is a burden halved. Often times we just need to hear ourselves talking and we need to be heard by someone else. It is not about finding advice or solutions, but to be heard.

Visit a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeing a professional councillor or therapist, you might just benefit immensely from it.

Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise can boost your immune system, it reduces inflammation and helps your immune cells regenerate regularly. However, be careful not to overdo it as prolonged intense exercise again suppresses the immune system.

So get out there, get your heart rate up and break a sweat. According to the Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S adults should move more and sit less.

Aim for at least 150-minutes of moderate exercise per week. Moderate exercise includes running, swimming, hiking, brisk walking, bicycling and moderate aerobic exercise.

Reduce simple carbs and sugars

Sugar and simple carbs are the culprits behind many chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity and heart disease. If this is not enough reason for you to reduce your sugars and simple carb intake, sugar has further been proven to negatively affect the body’s ability to fight off viruses or other infections in the body.

Studies have further shown that sugar interferes with Vitamin C absorption. Sugar and Vitamin C has a similar molecular structure. When you consume both together, your body will choose the sugar over the Vitamin C. Your body needs a good dose of Vitamin C to fight off free radicles and build your immune system. 

Reducing your sugar and simple carb intake may decrease inflammation and help you lose weight.

The US dietary guidelines advise limiting your sugar intake to less than 10% of your kilojoule intake. This equals about 12.5 teaspoons for a person eating a healthy, balanced diet and that leads a moderately active lifestyle.

Maximise your nutritional intake

Every meal is an opportunity to nourish your body with the nutrients that it needs to function optimally. Your body needs a range of vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system. Amongst these are Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D and good fats, which helps to reduce inflammation.

Nuts, dried fruit and seeds are amongst nature's richest and healthiest food. Apart from being filled with vitamins and minerals, they also contain high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs), the so-called “good fats” that are essential for good health.

No one should tackle winter without a good dose of Vitamin C. It’s a potent antioxidant and a vital protector of cells. Vitamin C has mild antihistamine effects, so it strengthens immunity and helps to minimise the severity of colds. Find it in: Montagu’s Fruit Flakes or Fruit Swirls hazel- and Brazil nuts.

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) helps with the production of immune cells to fight infection and also helps to transport oxygen to your body’s cells, just what you need to build up your immune system. Find it in: almonds, cashews and hazelnuts.

Vitamin B6 performs over 100 valuable functions for the body. It is believed to play a vital role in disease prevention and treatment. Find it in: prunes, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, linseed, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts.

Zinc helps your body to sustain a strong immune system to fight colds and flu. It increases the production of various immune cells involved in the body’s response to viruses. Find it in: Almonds, pecan nuts, cashew nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseed, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts.

Add probiotics to your diet

Did you know that your gut and your immune system is linked?  Your gut health and keeping a delicate balance is critical for your body’s healthy.
Probiotics may help support your immune system by regulating bacterial populations. With 70% of your immune system being in your gut, this can create an optimal environment for your immune system to function by enhancing cellular responses to simulated viral challenges and helping modulate your immune responses.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto. If you do not regularly eat fermented foods you can try Montagu’s new Mango Bites range with added probiotics or invest in a quality supplement.
The bottom line is that building your immune system naturally and living a healthy, balanced lifestyle goes hand-in-hand. But this doesn’t mean that you’ll never get sick.  Nasty bugs are still going around, which is why it is always advisable to stay at home when you have flu-like symptoms and to follow the correct health and hygiene practices.
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