With changing seasons and the onset of winter, our greatest concern is to stay protected and avoid falling sick, which is not only disturbing, but can take away the happiness and fun of the holiday season.
It is therefore important to strengthen your immunity to prevent infection. Warm winter clothes definitely help us fight the bitter winter, but are not the only way to ensure that our hands and feet are warm and our immunity is the strongest. In fact, no single supplement, diet or lifestyle, can help to boost your immunity, it has to be a combination of lifestyle changes and healthy habits.
Some very easy ways to boost your immunity this winter –
- Keep Clean
The COVID – 19 pandemic taught us that one of the best ways to ward off the virus was by keeping clean. Practise the habit of washing hands frequently to wash away harmful bacteria and viruses that may cause an infection. India is again reporting cases of COVID- 19 with a new variant JN.1 resulting in a spurt of infections. It may be a good idea to start wearing masks and maintain a healthy distance to keep yourself protected.
- Regular Exercise
A healthy heart, lungs and body requires regular exercise. Physical activity keeps the body healthy and better prepared to fight disease and infection. It also improves blood circulation and helps to promote the production of immune cells like macrophages and antibodies, so that the body is better geared to fight infections. Interestingly, exercise also promotes the production of the hormone Endorphin which helps to reduce stress
- Sleep and Immunity
Sleep and immunity have a direct connection. Researchers from the University of California showed that people who slept less than five hours at night had four times higher risk of catching a cold, than those who slept for seven hours at night. It is not surprising then, that those who party late, several hours at a stretch, often come down with a viral infection. One must aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. Develop healthy sleep hygiene habits such as minimizing screen time before bed and following a regular sleep schedule.
It is a well-known fact that if you want to flush out the toxins from the body, you must consume at least three litres of water in a day. Water not only removes all the harmful substances from the body, but it also promotes the flow of blood and lymph, both of which carry immune cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. Older adults feel less thirsty and often do not consume enough fluids. It is important to prompt them to stay hydrated.
- Colour your Plate
A healthy plant – based diet rich in fruits and vegetables and loaded with antioxidants like Vitamins A, B and C and minerals like zinc, iron and folic acid can most certainly boost your immune system. The antioxidants in these foods can help decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of infections. The body is then in the best shape and form to fight infection.
- Protein Rich Diet
White blood cells (WBC’s) aid in the body’s defence against foreign substances and the battle against illnesses. Protein is needed for maintaining WBC’s in the body. Make sure you are getting enough protein from foods like lentils, dairy products, eggs, chicken, and fish. Since Indian food is high in carbohydrates, it is very important to include proteins in the diet.
- Sunshine in winters
It is an old belief that we tend to catch more infections in the winter months because we get less exposure to the sun and therefore less Vitamin D. Recent studies have actually shown that people with low levels of Vitamin D are at greater risk of infections.
- Healthy fats
Consuming healthy fats like that found in avocado and olive oil help boost your immunity. Most healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties that can help the body’s immune system fight infection.
- Go for Probiotics
One of the most crucial determinants and yet the most neglected when it comes to immunity is the Gut. This is because more than half the body’s immune system is located in the gut. It is also called the largest immune organ of the body. An excellent way of keeping the gut healthy is by including a probiotic food as a part of your daily diet.
Probiotics provide good bacteria that help maintain the balance of the gut flora. People who usually experience digestive issues and have frequent infections can benefit by consuming readily available probiotic foods as a part of their daily diet.
Coupling a balanced diet, with regular exercise, keeping yourself warm and feeding on warm liquids may help you to enjoy your winter. And that daily probiotic could make it even better!!!