When the leaves begin to turn vibrant colors and the air becomes crisp and cool it can only mean one thing- cold and flu season has arrived. Because children collect germs like limited edition figurines, parents are especially susceptible to a number of nasty viruses and cold bugs that can sap their strength and make work and home commitments a real chore. Even if you don’t have children, spending more time indoors during the winter and fall months will expose you to more germs that can leave you stuffed up and miserable.
If you’re like most people today, your busy schedule doesn’t allow for any sick time or much needed best rest. Since sending your kids to school or going to work in a germ proof bubble isn’t an option (yet), the best option for preventing an illness is to strengthen your immune system instead. With that in mind, here are seven tips on how to boost your immune system so you stay healthy this cold and flu season.
Boost Immune System Tip # 1: Less the Stress
Believe or not, a little stress can actually be beneficial. Whether it’s providing extra motivation you need to study for a final exam or preparing for a presentation, stress helps to prepare the body for a challenge. However, too much stress can negatively affect your health. Several recent studies have shown that excess stress can actually weaken your immune system, and decrease your body’s ability to fight off illness and disease. So by taking a little extra time to reduce stress, you can stay healthy and relaxed all year.
Boost Immune System Tip # 2: Furry Friend
While it might seem counter intuitive to bring an animal into the house that could potentially carry even more germs with it, studies have shown that owning a pet can have a number of healthy benefits. In addition to offering owners exercise and companionship, studies have also shown that pets can help to reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and improve the health of your heart. One study even found that owning a dog could help to improve the development of a child’s immune system and reduce their risk of developing allergies.
Boost Immune System Tip # 3: Glass Half Full
Even if refusing to believe that you’re sick won’t make you feel better, positive thoughts can provide your immune system a healthy boost, according to researchers. A study of law students found that participants who reported feeling more optimistic about school enjoyed stronger immune systems. While trying to become a more optimistic person may not just be in your nature, try focusing less on the negative, and remember to enjoy the little things that make life worth living.
Boost Immune System Tip # 4: The Best Medicine
Even the connection between laughing and a person’s health is still tenuous at this point, a good belly laugh could be just what the doctor ordered. Researchers who examined a number of studies that linked laughter to how a person’s immune system functioned found that individual who laughed out loud while watching something funny enjoyed higher immune function. While more research still needs to be conducted, laughing a little more each day can certainly reduce stress and help you become a little more optimistic.
Boost Immune System Tip # 5: Healthy Eating
There is a reason why you always hear about the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables; they’re loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants in foods help to protect your body’s cells from molecules that cause cellular damage called free radicals. To get the widest range of free radicals possible, try eating a variety of fruits and vegetables that have different colors. Keep in mind that studies have shown the brighter the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains.
Boost Immune System Tip # 6: One a Day
Even if you try to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, chances are that you still don’t get enough of certain types of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Taking supplements or a multivitamin is a great way to help ensure you get all of the building blocks your immune system needs to stay strong and healthy. Some of the most important nutrients for your immune system include vitamins A, C, D, and E, selenium, magnesium, and zinc.
Boost Immune System Tip # 7: A Goodnight’s Rest
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who get less than seven hours of sleep a night, your immune system probably doesn’t posses the ability to successfully fight off illnesses. The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to stay alert and help the body function optimally. To help yourself get to sleep a little earlier tonight, try to avoid caffeine and alcohol right before bedtime as both can make it difficult for you to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. Other tips for getting a goodnight’s sleep include exercising regularly, sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, and keeping your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.