There's not much that catches you as off-guard as the humbling experience of getting sick. One day you’re living life to the fullest, feeling energetic, happy, and alive. And then—wham! You're turned into a pitiful creature, sniffling, sneezing, and wishing someone would bring you chicken soup and nurse you back to health (preferably instantly).
Because, as you've no doubt heard, there's no cure for the common cold, we're focusing on ways to avoid getting sick in the first place. Keep reading to arm yourself with powerful immunity tips for surviving cold and flu season.
Alcohol lowers sleep quality and interferes with the most restorative type of sleep there is: REM sleep. If you drink before bed, you wake up more times throughout the night and sleep worse. The Mayo Clinic reports that people who don’t get quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus like the common cold.
Consuming enough protein is critical to a high-functioning immune system. The amino acids from protein sources are building blocks of the body’s cells, including the white blood cells that fight off pathogens. If you aren’t consuming enough protein, you’ll make fewer white blood cells, which means a less powerful army to battle away bacteria and viruses. Reach for lean protein sources, like boneless and skinless chicken breast, fish, beans, and eggs.
Research has shown that zinc can interfere with a virus's ability to attack healthy cells. What's more, zinc deficiency inhibits the functioning of T-cells and other immune cells, so make sure you're getting the appropriate daily amount of the nutrient (15-25 mg). Good dietary sources of zinc include whole grains, chicken, beans, nuts, dairy products, and oysters.
Your phone is teeming with germs—as in more germs than what's on a toilet seat. Disinfect your device regularly with an antibacterial wipe, especially after placing it down on any public tables or counters.
There are endless reasons why exercising is good for you and, unsurprisingly, immunity is one of them. Exercise increases blood flow, which is an important factor in immune response, as our blood is what carries virus-fighting cells to any potentially compromising pathogens that have entered our system. Studies have shown that those who exercise even moderately (i.e. you don’t have to run marathons) are 25 percent less likely to develop a cold compared with those who rarely exercise.
Occasional use of a neti pots can help keep nasal passages hydrated and healthy. Though the idea of rinsing your nose with salt water might seem intimidating, it’s an easy way to maintain clear sinuses during cold and flu season. You can purchase plastic neti pots with saline packets (to mix with boiled water) at pharmacies. Just make sure to wait until the water has cooled before you use it.
Probiotics contain healthy, good-for-you bacteria that basically act like positives to sick-causing negatives. They colonize your gastrointestinal tract with good bacteria to keep the bad guys at bay, and stimulate immunity cell production there as well.
Keeping a pen in your purse is one of the easiest ways to limit direct contact with flu and cold-causing germs. Especially at pharmacies, where sick people go to pick up prescriptions, bringing your own pen will prevent you from having to use the public one that many an infected finger has touched.
When you’re sleep deprived, your immune system decreases production of infection-fighting antibodies and proteins called cytokines. Lack of sleep not only makes you more susceptible to the common cold, it affects how quickly you recover if you do get sick. So make sure to get the requisite seven to nine hours needed for your immune system to properly function.
What are your tricks for not getting sick? Share your immunity-boosting tips below!