As we approach that awkward time of the year when temperatures can dip near freezing then jump back up to remind you of Spring, the common cold and flu are making their rounds. These two viruses can quickly take hold of your body, cancelling your weekend plans, forcing you to stay home from work, or even ruining your vacation. The worst part: They are viruses. That means there is no one-shot-and-done medication that will cure them. You essentially have to let them run their course while dealing with all the joys they bring. The key to avoiding these pests altogether, or making them leave sooner, is to boost your immune system. Here are three simple steps you can take to bring your immunity up to speed.
1. Go to bed
Sleep is, hands down, the easiest thing to do on this list. Get comfy and drift off. That’s all there is to it. Sleep plays a crucial role in supporting immune function. Time spent in R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) sleep is your body’s way of repairing, healing, and detoxifying. It’s also the time when your immune system gets a much-needed charge.
As you can see in this study from the European Journal of Physiology, consistent sleeping patterns help to promote positive immune function. Those subjects who were deprived of sleep showed high levels of inflammation and immunodeficiency, or a weak immune system.
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. If you aren’t getting your nightly snooze, you are letting down your guard, giving a number of nasty bacteria the chance to plant whatever sickness they choose in your body. Ideally, you're sleeping between 7 and 9 hours per night, but if you need to skimp on sleep once in awhile, make sure you get no less than 6 hours.
2. Get physical
If one of your goals for the New Year was to spend more time at the gym, then here is yet another reason to grab your sweatband. Exercise has been shown in a variety of studies to significantly boost immune function. When you hit the weights, you improve the function of your T-cells. These little guys play a direct role in supporting your immune system.
One study from the International Society of Exercise and Immunology showed that exercise improved immune function by up to 25%. Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that regular exercise cut the risk of getting a cold in half. What’s more, it showed that physically fit individuals overall get fewer colds. When they do get sick, their symptoms are very mild in comparison to unfit individuals.
Aside from getting an immunity boost, you’ll also be taking that step towards the physique you want. Exercise is the way to reduce body fat, improve metabolism, and increase lean muscle mass.
3. Supplement your system
Supplements are an important part of your diet as they help to fill in the nutritional gaps that your meals miss. They are also a terrific way to improve your immune system in preparation for a cold or to get rid of it faster. Zinc, in particular, has been heralded as one of the most effective immunity boosting supplements, as you can see in this study from the Proceedings Of The Nutrition Society.
CATEGORIES: Fitness, Vitamins & Minerals, Sleep, Immune System, Flu Season