Act now to fight against flu
10 super tips for strengthening your immune system before winter.
Wash your hands!
Hands and surfaces are crawling with germs, with millions of microbes found under your nails, on the telephone, door handles and more.
As washing hands frequently with soap and water or antibacterial liquid (if there’s an epidemic) reduces viruses, it is an effective way of fighting winter infections.
Avoid close and confined environments
We tend to overheat our homes in winter, without refreshing the air. And in an atmosphere like that, it only takes one person with a cold to contaminate everyone else! To protect others, sneeze into a tissue, then throw it away immediately.
Eat balanced meals
To strengthen your immune system, you should follow the rules for healthy living, starting with a balanced and varied diet. It should provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to function properly: fruit and vegetables for vitamins B2, B5 and C and protein for the building of antibodies, for example. Consider the benefits of spices as well – curry, cinnamon and clove are known for their antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Choose natural medicines
Homeopathy, a natural remedy with no side effects, reduces the occurrence of winter infections and relieves symptoms like a blocked nose or sneezing. It is ideal for children and pregnant women, and limits the need for medication.
The more we exercise, the more our bodies resist germs! Adrenaline activates white blood cells, ready to attack the slightest microbe. This genetic heritage goes back to prehistoric man, running from danger or on the hunt. Regular exercise is therefore a great barrier against winter’s onslaught, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of doing too much, which saps your body’s energy.
Echinacea: nature’s immune booster
This North American plant reduces the risk of catching a cold by 58%. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends taking 3 grams a day during winter.
Hydrate with plenty of water
Drinking water (1.5 litres a day) and tisanes will help you stay hydrated and reduce the development of infections. Drinking regularly also keeps body fluids flowing, hot drinks particularly. On the other hand, you should avoid sugary drinks, which slow down your immune system.
Consider a helping hand
When you’re feeling very tired or if you’re convalescing, certain vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended to activate your immune cells: beta carotene, vitamins C and D, selenium and zinc are among these. You might consider a course of probiotics as a way of boosting your intestinal flora, as they too play a role in the proper functioning of your immune system.
Learn to relax!
The lack of light in winter, stress, disturbed sleep or anxiety are all contributing factors to a weak system. Today we know that stress can also influence levels of cortisol, a hormone, which if secreted in large quantities, weakens our immune system. Which is why, to boost the immune system, it’s very important to relax!
Get a good night’s rest to help you keep your energy up, and try to stay positive throughout the day.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco
Tobacco irritates your respiratory system and considerably reduces your levels of vitamin C, as it produces free radicals, damaging to our cells. As if that weren’t enough, it increases the risk of infections and complications linked to colds. As for alcohol, it dehydrates your body and reduces the capacity of your white blood cells to fight infection.
When should you visit the doctor?
Intense fever, headaches, thick nasal secretions, and ear pain – these can happen when a cold, usually benign, leads to a secondary bacterial infection. Mucous membranes, weakened by the virus, can become the site of this secondary infection, leading to ear infections, bronchiolitis in infants, sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia. Prudence is therefore advised, particularly with vulnerable patients like infants, seniors or asthma sufferers. If the patient experiences more extreme cold symptoms, or if the symptoms continue for 15 days, you should visit your doctor immediately.