11 Ways To Boost Your Immune System and Prevent Getting Sick This Winter

No one likes getting a cold, it slows you down and makes you feel rubbish. But before you garlicrun to the pharmacy to pick up a concoction of paracetamol, ibuprofen, anti-histamines, decongestants and codeine check out the list of things you can do at home to help boost your immune system, prevent the common cold and they may even help you get better faster.

  1. Eat Manuka Honey! Manuka honey comes from my neck of the woods in New Zealand and has been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Having a small spoonful for a sore throat is loved by everyone in the family, or you can try my favourite of adding a heaped teaspoon to the juice of a lemon and hot water mmmmm…. nothing better for a cold!
  2. Get In The Herb Garden. You may be surprised to know that many of your favourite culinary herbs have antimicrobial effects. Herbs such as sage, thyme, ginger and rosemary help to kill microbes and stimulate circulation. Make them into teas, gargles and use them in all your cooking.
  3. Get Garlic Breath! Fresh, local garlic has the most amazing antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions, two things you definitely need if you’re staring head on at a cold. Garlic also has an expectorant action, making it useful for those with a cough. Add garlic to all your meals for its numerous health properties. Chop it up raw into vinaigrettes for salads and steamed vegetables.
  4. Avoid Sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system and causes inflammation in the body, this is a recipe for a cold. It is good to stay away from processed sugary foods (not fruit) at all times, but make sure it’s out of the house whenever you or a family member is feeling under the weather.
  5. Eat Chicken Soup. Soups are full of vegetables, good protein, liquid for hydration and you can add all the beautiful herbs mentioned above. There are some studies suggesting chicken soup is more than just a wives tale and may actually help relieve some symptoms of a cold.
  6. Drink Herbal Teas. Ginger and lemon, peppermint, and Echinacea help to ensure you stay hydrated, offer immune stimulating and circulatory effects, and help keep your body temperature a bit higher making it a less favourable environment for bugs.
  7. Avoid Mucus Forming Foods. These are dairy, gluten and any foods you are intolerant to. Avoiding these while you’re sick will help to reduce your mucus load.
  8. Drink Water. Staying hydrated is extremely important in the winter months with all the air conditioning. Our mucus membranes in the respiratory tract are one of the first lines of defence against pathogens, this defence system is less efficient when it’s dry and dehydrated.
  9. Rest! Generally the hardest thing for people to do. A day of rest at the first signs of a cold may knock it on the head. When you rest you allow your body to repair and recover and you are therefore giving your immune system its best chance at doing its job. So although you may want to power through, a day off work early may save three or four days off later.
  10. Eat Fruits and Vegetables. Ensuring you’re getting plenty of vitamin C through fruits and vegetables is important for preventing and in helping you to recover quickly. This is a simple and easy thing that you can do every day to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Try those that are in season such as citrus fruits and kiwi fruit!
  11. Eat Warming Spices. Spices such as chilli, cayenne pepper and turmeric help to improve circulation and have also shown to have antimicrobial action. Curries and soups are a great way to get these in in winter.

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