It’s that time of year when everyone is coming down with cold-like systems and the flu and no matter how hard you try to avoid people with it you end up catching it. Once this happens you search high and low for ways to try get rid of it and feel better as quickly as possible.
Ever heard of the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? The exact same thing applies to you catching illnesses.
If you don’t think anything can be done to prevent a cold or flu, think again.
You catch colds due to having a weak or a drop in your immune system.
Having a weakened immune system can come down to not looking after your health from things such as; poor quality nutrition, stress, dehydration, lack of sleep and a lack of exercise.
If you want to keep illness at bay you need to respect your immune system and take care of it, if you don't then you will more than likely catch every virus that comes your way.
Your immune system is your body's main defence to fight off viruses and illnesses. It is made up of cells and proteins that recognise the cells that make up your body and will tackle any that are unfamiliar.
If you are not nourishing your body correctly, keeping it in a constant state of stress, over-working it or not giving it sufficient rest you will weaken your bodies defence system.
Most people take their bodies for granted, whether it’s under nourishing it or overworking it. Only once they’re ill do they try to get rid of the virus by drinking more water, taking medication, getting fresh air, keeping warm, and resting.
Taking care of your body year-round by staying hydrated, resting adequately, getting fresh air, exercising, and eating nutritious food can prevent it from ever happening.
Leaving all of this stuff until your ill is too late, the virus has already set in and you’ll have to ride it out until your immune system has fought it off.
I feel like I am going to massively jinx myself by writing this but here it goes, I actually can’t remember the last time I caught a cold or virus but it has been well over a year.
I am in close proximity with people every day and I have lost count of the number of people I have come into contact with who have caught a cold or virus. Lots of people close to me have had colds too and despite being in contact with them I haven’t caught anything.
(You wait I will probably be poorly this Christmas now haha.)
But the reason being is that I have had the healthiest diet I have ever had and I am not overdoing things in the gym, I am resting more when I feel I need to and I stay as far away as I can from stress.
My clients also have an easier time fighting off illnesses because they’re taking care of their bodies more than they ever have.
Before you picture healthy meaning I just eat salad, broccoli, rice, and chicken all day you’re wrong, that is not a healthy diet.
My diet is healthy because I eat a wide variety of foods.
A varied diet is the healthiest way of eating because not all foods contain every nutrient so by eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, beans, dairy, and carbs you ensure your body is getting everything it needs.
If you want to improve your immune system and prevent catching colds and viruses then here are 6 things you can start doing to help.
1. Start eating a more varied diet, eat lots of colourful veg and fruit, different types of beans, and protein sources to ensure you are providing your body with lot’s of different nutrients such as:
Zinc - Needed for the immune system and helps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells. (1)
Vitamin B6 - helps aid sleep, mood (stress) and appetite. (2)
Vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant and helps to neutralise unstable molecules that can damage cells. (3)
2. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
Mild dehydration is linked to chronic diseases and morbidities. (4)
The kidneys require water for the filtration of waste from the bloodstream and excretion via urine. Not removing waste can be detrimental to health. (5)
Your heart function, blood volume, blood pressure, and heart rate are affected by dehydration. (6)
Not only does all this lead to more toxins in your body but also places your body under a lot of stress and both are linked to poor immunity.
3. Focus on getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is when our bodies are repairing and is also when our T-cells (which play a vital role in immune response) peak and our adaptive immune response is initiated. (7)
4. Exercise for at least 30-45 minutes 3-4 times per week. When exercising you pump more blood around your body, your blood contains white blood cells that help fight off bad bacteria. When your blood circulates more the white blood cells find the bad bacteria quicker. Exercise also slows down the release of hormones that are linked to stress and as you know stress can weaken your immune system.
5. Use a multivitamin daily. Sometimes it’s hard to get all your vitamins in through the food we eat so taking a multivitamin daily is a sure way to ensure you do get enough vitamins in. Think of this as an insurance policy for your immune system.
6. Supplement with around 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day in the winter. Evidence has found that a deficiency of vitamin D may also increase the risk of autoimmune diseases and non-skeletal chronic diseases. (8)
Bonus tip. Don’t forget to wash your hands!!
I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it helpful.
Thank you for reading :)
References: (1) Aquilani R, Baiardi P, Scocchi M, Iadarola P, Verri M, Sessarego P, Boschi F, Pasini E, Pastoris O, Viglio S.
(2) Collaboration HLT. Lowering blood homocysteine with folic acid based supplements:
(3) Traber, M. G., & Atkinson, J. (2007).
(4,5,6) Nutr Rev. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 Aug 1.
(7) Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jan; 463(1): 121–137.
(8) WILLIS, K. S.; PETERSON, N. J.; LARSON-MEYER, D. E.