As the holidays approach, illness is an inconvenience that no one wants and few can afford. Unfortunately, common holiday foods, habits and activities actually decrease your body’s natural ability to protect you from invading bacteria. By placing an emphasis on your well-being, you can accomplish all you want this winter, without succumbing to the flu. Use these five easy tips to ensure you don’t catch a cold come Christmas time.
- Exercise. It may be colder, but your body still requires the same amount of physical activity. Exercising greatly increases the production of disease-fighting antibodies, as well as the natural killer T cells which are vital to immune function. Luckily, the amount of exercise required to bolster your immune system is less than the amount needed for cardiovascular fitness. You can trim your workout a bit, but make sure you’re still fitting fitness into your routine.
- Actively Manage Stress. Both physical and mental stress take a harsh toll on your body. Stress interferes with the body’s natural hormone responses. It can also disrupt the immune system’s ability to fight off disease. Prayer is an excellent way to confront and cope with the stresses in your life. Meditation, serene walks and concentrated breathing exercises are also effective. Dealing with stress proactively prevents it from accumulating over time.
- Eat Produce. Whole fruits and vegetables are rich in disease-fighting vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables-like broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts-are rich in antioxidants, which help protect your body from invading bacteria. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries and pineapple are known for reducing inflammation throughout the body.
- Avoid Immunity-Lowering Foods. Certain foods are known to suppress the function of your body’s natural disease-fighting response. Sugars, fried meats and highly processed foods are all sources of inflammation, which can lead to the development of disease.
- Supplement Wisely. Nutrients like beta carotene and vitamin D have been shown to boost the body’s ability to fight off illness. Beta carotene has been shown to reduce damage caused by free radicals, while vitamin D can enhance cell replication and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Avoid the flu by monitoring the foods you eat, managing your stress and working a little exercise into your routine. Together, these basic, all-natural steps prepare your body to defend itself from any harmful bacteria it may encounter this winter.