Top tips to boost your immune system during the winter season
Dr Vicente Mera, head of Genomic Medicine and Healthy Ageing at SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain, offers professional guidance on how to naturally increase immunity and create a foundation for good habits in the next year.
The winter season, which is frequently a hectic time for celebrations and the end of the year, can be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. The likelihood of contracting respiratory diseases and the seasonal flu skyrockets, especially as people start traveling for the holidays. The immune system is put to the test by variables such as cold winds, and lower temperatures, which also make it simpler for germs and viruses to grow.
Dr. Vicente Mera offers five tips to help maintain the body’s natural defences in top conditions and start 2023 in the healthiest possible way:
Acute inflammation is the normal immune response to all kinds of infections and injuries, while chronic inflammation is linked to cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer and can eventually suppress the immune system altogether. To reduce this type of inflammation, eat more whole, plant-based foods because they contain antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and neutralise free radicals, and fibre, which modulates the gut microbiota and boosts resistance to fight pathogens that enter or are activated through the digestive tract.
Healthy fats from fish and plant sources also decrease inflammation, while fermented foods, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir, are rich in probiotics that strengthen the immune system. In addition, being obese or overweight, particularly when it is caused by the consumption of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, significantly increase the risk of illness due to their negative impact on inflammation and the immune system. SHA Wellness Clinic has a number of delicious and easy to follow recipes for those looking to improve their diets.
Moderate physical exercise
Prolonged, intense exercise can suppress the immune system, while consistent, moderate physical exercise reduces inflammation and helps the immune system cells to regularly regenerate. The most beneficial exercises to boost natural immunity include running, walking, swimming and cycling.
Prolonged mental stress promotes inflammation and can even suppress the immune response, particularly in children. So relieving stress and anxiety is essential for good immune health. Meditation, yoga, pranayama breathing techniques and mindfulness disciplines are extremely effective and help to better manage emotions.
Little or poor-quality sleep is associated with increased susceptibility to everything from the common cold to traffic accidents, whereas restful sleep strengthens natural immunity. Therefore, getting 50 hours of sleep a week and maintaining good sleep hygiene is essential for keeping the immune system operating at peak performance.
Some studies suggest that certain supplements may help strengthen the body’s overall immune response, such as vitamins C and D, zinc, garlic, echinacea, green tea, beta-glucans, colostrum and fermented papaya.