Boost your immune system with these healthy tips
THE downside to ageing is our immune system tends to struggle with winter ills such as respiratory tract infections.
Just having an annual flu injection isn't enough. It's a misconception that this jab will cover you for all respiratory illnesses, Gold Coast holistic GP specialist Dr Cris Beer says. "It just covers you for influenza," she said. "It's one of the thousands of respiratory viruses we can contract during the winter months, in particular, because we are indoors more and in closer contact with other humans.
"It does protect you against the flu in most cases, but it's not fail-proof because it mutates so quickly. By the time we get the flu injection and then by the time the flu strain is out and about, which is this time of year, the virus has mutated quite a bit so the influenza vaccine may not cover you completely," Dr Beer added.
So, it's important to look after your whole immune system all the time. You can start by using Blackmore's online two-minute Immune Health Check at www.immunehealthcheck.com.au to test your immune health.
Then you can boost your immune system using the following six tips from Dr Beer.
Fuel your body with a healthy dose of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and fibre-rich foods to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy in winter. Include powerful antioxidants and foods which contain vitamin C and zinc. Good food choices include oranges, berries, kiwifruit, and natural sources of prebiotics like yoghurt, garlic, kefir, kimchi, onions and leeks.
Water, water, water - drink at least eight cups a day to help flush away unwanted toxins. Caffeinated drinks like coffee can be dehydrating, so balance intake with clear water. Herbal tea or hot lemon water can also be the perfect addition.
Restorative, good quality sleep is vital for winter wellness, as it's when your body has the chance to rest and repair. If your body is rundown, you can become more susceptible. Establish regular sleeping patterns and aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night.
A healthy and strong body can work wonders for supporting your immune system so get moving with regular, moderate exercise. "Getting out for a brisk walk three mornings or afternoons a week of 20 to 30 minutes duration is enough to boost immune systems," Dr Beer said.
While you might be frightened about skin cancer, you still need to get a daily dose of natural Vitamin D. Step outside for a short while and enjoy a few warm rays, but avoid the hottest time of the day. It's also worth asking your GP to check your Vitamin D levels. "It doesn't just affect bones," Dr Beer said. "We now know it also affects your immune system."
Be vigilant with washing your hands regularly, especially before handling food or touching your eyes, mouth or nose.