For much of the world, it is getting colder and it is time for cold and flu season. If you are looking for an alternative to a flu shot and want to keep your immunity up by natural means, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to avoid getting sick.
Many of the things your mother told you are true; you can avoid getting sick by staying healthy in the first place. You may not need to bundle up with layers of layers of sweaters, the taking care of yourself is an important initial step.
Who Gets Sick?
Most people catch a cold, flu or infection from time to time, but is important to know who is the most vulnerable to being under the weather. The very young and the elderly are susceptible to microbes and should be treated with extra care.
Babies have not yet developed their immune system properly and don’t yet have the antibodies to fight off germs. As people get older, their immune system slows down gradually and it takes them longer to battle invading cells. This is why it is a good idea to implement a healthy lifestyle early and maintain it into old age.
The Stress Factor
Working long hours at the office may be great for your bank account, but it may not do wonders for your health. Not only will the extra work cut into your sleep and encourage you to eat fast food, but the stress itself can compromise your body’s ability to deal with microbes.
Short-term stress can be a positive because it let your body release hormones that can enhance performance and give you a surge of energy. Prolonged stress, however, can wear the body down and result in elevated cortisol levels.
These cortisol levels can negatively affect the immune system. In addition, people who suffer from stress and depression may be more vulnerable to inflammatory conditions.
Stress can also be linked to autoimmune conditions which occur when the body attacks its own cells. Common examples of autoimmune conditions are lupus, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
It may not seem easy at first to reduce stress in your life, but this doesn’t necessarily mean cutting back on work. Having a more relaxed attitude while at the office may go a long way to tame your stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises can make you feel more focused and less likely to fly off the handle. In addition, finding some time for exercise can improve your general health and reduce stress.
If you have difficulty coping with stress, you may want to consider going to a professional about possible depression or anxiety, for which you may want treatment. Scientists are developing cutting-edge treatments to deal with anxiety and other issues.
Feeding Your Immune System
You may have heard the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Since apples have antioxidants, the expression may be true. Your mother might have suggested that you eat more fruits and vegetables if you don’t want to get sick, and this is true at least concerning those plant foods that have antioxidants which are beta-carotene or vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Nature has given a significant clue to spotting antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, because the ones with the brightest colors have these nutrients. You can find them and broccoli, greens, pumpkin, red pepper strawberries, and tomatoes.
Less colorful foods that are rich in antioxidants are onions, apples, prunes, and beans. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals from the body. Free radicals build up because of stress, pollution, and other factors, and can damage the body cells including the immune system. Eating these foods and taking antioxidant supplements can help you stay well this winter and feel your best.
Get Your Sleep
Another thing you mom might have told you that is essential for your health is to go to bed. If you have ever come down with a cold or flu after spending a few nights tossing and turning, you may be correct to blame your lack of sleep and over tiredness for getting sick.
Some studies show that the T cells are less effective without sufficient sleep and the risk of inflammation increases. In addition, sleep deprivation can interfere with your sense of well-being and can keep you from feeling your best mentally as well as physically.
The Best Defense
As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense, and that goes for your health as well as sports. The amount of time off you have to take from work and your impaired ability to function are the price that many people have to pay for seasonal illnesses.
Paying attention to your diet, exercise and sleep habits can help boost your immunity and improve your general health. Consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants and replacing junk food with fruits and vegetables are small ways that can have a major impact on your wellness.