5 ways to boost your immunity this winter
You've heard it before and you'll hear it again: prevention is better than cure.
Whether that's in relation to common sexually transmitted infections, smoking-induced lung cancer or the run-of-the-mill cold and flu that pops up every Winter, the fact remains the same.
No one likes to be struck down by sore throats, headaches, coughs and the like, so you should prep your body to fight off any infections that circulate via your work's air-conditioning system/general life.
Luckily for all of us, it's really easy to give our immune systems a bit of support, and it won't make a difference to your daily habits. Keep reading for five quick tips...
1. Increase your garlic consumption
Sure, you'll have to take an extra swig of mouthwash (no one likes next-day garlic breath) but it's worth it if you manage to bypass the sniffles all your workmates are contending with.
According to WebMD, garlic is jam-packed with sulfuric compounds, which are excellent at fighting off infections and viruses.
As is the case with most nutritional foods, it's best eaten raw (cooking can diminish nutritional properties) but you'll still reap the benefits if you cook it.
Slice it very finely and add it raw to a salad, or up the dosage in your stir-frys, pasta dishes and marinades. Bonus: it's delicious.
2. Get into olive leaf extract
We're talking from personal experience here: olive leaf extract is seriously impressive. One ArmaForce every day during Winter last year and it's first time we've gotten through the season without a cold. You need to speak to a naturopath before you take it, but it's worth putting in the effort to get your hands on it.
You can take olive leaf extract in liquid form or as a capsule; either way it's packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, both of which work to power down viruses and the like, and it's it's got antibacterial properties to keep your insides clean.
3. Dose up on vitamin D
The more research that goes into it, the more vitamin D is coming up trumps. From MS to cancer to depression, it's slowly proving to be a crucial vitamin that we all need in our system.
According to researcher Adit Ginde for Fitness Magazine, a lack of vitamin D directly relates to an increase in colds and the flu.
"Without adequate levels of vitamin D, immune cells produce fewer antibacterial proteins and are less efficient at killing viruses and bacteria," he says.
The best thing about the vitamin? It's free! Vitamin D comes from sunlight, so getting outside on a sunny Winter's day is going to go a long way in boosting your immunity.
It's hard to recommend an exact length of time necessary for adequate intake, but the Cancer Council has a great guide to refer to. For example, in months June and July the Cancer Council suggests the average person needs 30-40 minutes in the sun. Just remember your sunscreen!
4. Power up your juices and smoothies
Spirulina and echinacea are most definitely worthy of a turn in the spotlight.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is considered a superfood for its high levels of iron and selenium, and while its disease-fighting properties aren't set in stone (more research is needed), it's long been thought of as an immunity-boosting, cancer-fighting supplement.
Echinacea is a plant, but it's also a highly-regarded herbal remedy for the common cold. It's efficiency is still up for debate among scientists, but various studies have shown that consumption of the plant stimulates immune cells in the body.
Both spirulina and echinacea come in powder form - all you need to do it add a teaspoon of one or the other two your smoothies and juices. Echinacea is tough to find, so you might prefer to crush up a tablet and mix that in instead.
5. Add more ginger - to everything
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and it helps in keeping your immune system in tip-top shape.
The antioxidant properties in ginger also take on free radicals, which gives your body more than a fighting chance when it's faced with bacteria and viruses.
Add it to your stir-frys, salads and marinades or drink it with lemon and hot water - and thank yourself when you're feeling f-i-n-e this cold season.