The winter months can be real mood killers. There’s a lack of daylight, the nights are cold and the weather is depressing. However, we shouldn’t just look at enhancing our moods this season. Winter can be a real issue for our immune system, too. So, what can we do to ensure we keep it high? Here, with vegetable seeds suppliers, Suttons, we look at what your immune system actually is and what the best ways are to minimize illness and keep you fighting fit.
What is your immune system?
Your immune system is simply a system. It’s not one single entity that you can pinpoint. It’s a network of cells, organs and tissues that work in unison to protect you. This ‘barrier’ helps destroy germs and parasites by trying to get rid of any unfamiliar bodies. If your immune system is healthy, then your body can fight off any harmful bacteria.
To give yourself the best chance of staying fit and healthy over the winter months, it may be worth having certain immunizations. For those who are most at risk during the winter months, such as the elderly, you will be entitled to free flu jabs. Some workforces also offer this service to their staff to try to restrict sick days. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, you can still pay for the immunization at selected pharmacies. While the NHS recommends that you get your flu jab in October or November, you can still have the injection at any point of the winter.
Stop the habits
If you drink or smoke a lot they can play a big part in your health. Did you know that smoking makes your immune system less effective due to the high levels of toxins in cigarettes? There are a few good ways to fight the addiction and to help you stop such as the stop smoking chewing gum and lozenges.
It’s essential to eat correctly and include enough fruit and vegetables into your diet. Your immune system is like any fighting force and needs good nourishment to perform well. You should stock your daily diets full of foods enriched in vitamins to give yourself the necessary requirements throughout the year, not just in winter.
Certain micronutrient deficiencies, including zinc, folic acid and iron, have been found to alter our immune systems. Therefore, you must make sure you’re doing your utmost to eat foods rich in these nutrients. Items you should be adding to your shopping basket over the coming months include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, poultry and sunflower seeds. Each is packed full of nutrients to help keep your immune system in good condition.
If you find yourself struggling to get enough vitamins into your everyday diet through food, health supplements can be a great boost for your body. There are many vitamins in tablet and liquid form that can help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Sometimes in the winter period, it can be hard to obtain the required levels of vitamin D through your diet alone. Temperatures and a lack of sunshine mean that we don’t receive our natural dosage of the vitamin via the sun’s rays and need to receive our intake elsewhere.
One of the biggest immune system boosters that is available to us is vitamin C. If you don’t receive enough of this vitamin form in your diet — kale and oranges are two nutrient-rich foods — be sure to take a supplement to help keep your levels high. After all, if you lack in this vitamin, you’ll be more prone to getting sick.
It’s vital that you aren’t always relying on supplements instead of eating correctly, however. It’s much more beneficial for your body if you get these nutrients through a food source as it’s easier to absorb.
Exercise can seem a chore when you see the dull, dark and cold skies outside. You may feel more inclined to curl up in front of the fire, but this isn’t necessarily the best option. Exercising can help reduce your chances of getting a cold, flu or other illness as it can help flush bacteria from your lungs and airways.
The change in temperature in your body can help you avoid illness. This is because the rise during and straight after exercise can prevent bacteria from growing and ultimately fight any infection in a similar way it would if you had a fever.
While it’s certainly something that’s easier said than done, you must try to remain relaxed to stay in peak health. This can include monitoring your stress levels. This is an area in which scientists are actively working to discover the exact link as it can be difficult to pin down exactly what a stressful situation means to a certain individual. However, stress has been found to have a strain on your immune system as well as your personal or work life.
It’s not only cutting stressful situations either. You must make sure you get enough sleep. Without this, you will find yourself being run down, leaving your body susceptible to catching the common cold. During sleep, your immune system releases cytokines proteins. Some of these proteins can aid your sleep, while others can fight off infections and inflammation, meaning it’s crucial to get a good sleep if you are to properly protect your body. It’s recommended that you aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
Give yourself the best chance of keeping right this winter. It can be a long slog before we reach the bright summer nights once again, but by keeping your immune system working, you won’t feel worse due to illness.