Strategies to Strengthen Immunity During Flu Season

Author: Courtney Conner MS, RD, LD

Post date: December 28, 2021

 

Your immune system is a complex network of cells working 24/7 to fight against unknown viruses and bacteria that can make you sick. It is important to fuel your immune system properly so that it is strong and able to fight the cold and flu. Cold and flu season typically lasts from November to February but there is a still a significant chance of catching the cold or flu during other months of the year.1

Get the flu vaccine

Getting the vaccine is the most important way to increase your bodies immunity against the virus. Even if you are healthy and fit, you are still at risk for the flu. Vaccines work by giving you a small dose of the virus so that your body can then produce anti-bodies to fight the virus when it comes back into your body. Getting your flu vaccine is easily accessible as well, with most pharmacies, groceries, and community centers available without appointments.

Get plenty of sleep

Not getting enough sleep as well as poor sleep quality can negatively affect your immune system by not allowing it time to rest and recover. Cytokines are proteins that are released by your body when you sleep. These are important because they play a role in your body’s ability to fight infections.2 Set a sleep schedule and stick to it to ensure that you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Drink water

Drinking water helps filter toxins through the kidney’s and out of the body. Water also helps keep mucus in the respiratory tract thin. When you have the flu or a cold, mucus increases to fight the infection and keeping mucus thin can make it easier for it to be expelled from the body through coughing or a runny nose.

Balanced nutrition

Nutrition is extremely important for overall health and can help protect your body through cold and flu season. Eating a diet rich in whole foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meats, and whole grains is important for a healthy immune system. This is because a large part of your immune system lies in your digestive tract. Keeping your intestinal lining healthy through healthy foods is extremely beneficial for immunity. Specific immunity boosting foods include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, yogurt, almonds, sunflower seeds, turmeric, green tea, papaya, kiwi, poultry, shellfish.3

Regular Exercise

Exercise is not only good for immunity but also for your mental health. Exercise boosts blood flow, which circulates white blood cells around your body. White blood cells are the first line of defense because they travel through your blood looking for foreign invaders like fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Regular exercise also helps with weight management. If you are looking to increase energy and increase blood flow, check out our CardioSupport supplement here.

Manage stress

Easier said than done but managing stress can help people fight germs off. It also helps with better sleep quality. Psychologists who work in the field of psychoneuroimmunology believe that your state of mind can affect your health.4 Strategies to reduce stress include exercise, yoga, walking outside, meditation, eating well, and make time for hobbies and things that you enjoy.

Avoid stimulants

Stimulants include energy drinks, excessively caffeinated sodas, and nicotine. In addition, smoking can depress your immune system by suppressing the antibodies created by your body to fight cold and flu viruses.2 Alcohol and excessive alcohol intake can lead to weight gain, which is also taxing on your immunity. The idea for increased immunity is to only put good things into your body so that your body can repay you by fighting off the bad viruses and infections.

Wash your hands

Most people don’t wash their hands correctly, especially around fingernails and on the back of their hands. Viruses like the flu can survive on surfaces outside the body, meaning you can get infected from shaking a sick person’s hand, or high traffic surfaces like doorknobs, handles, or countertops. Make sure that you spend at least 30 seconds washing thoroughly with soap and warm water, making sure to get in between your fingers, around your fingernails, and on the back of your hands. In addition to washing your hands, you can defend against viruses and bacteria from outside by using mouth wash and gargling it in your throat and mouth. The antiseptic components to it will help kills germs to increase immunity.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm
  2. https://www.findapharmacy.com.au/advice/10-strategies-to-strengthen-your-immune-system-during-cold-and-flu-season
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system
  4. https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune.aspx

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