With winter in full swing, another season is also upon us – cold and flu season. While cold temperatures alone don’t cause viral infections, a lowered core body temperature can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off illness. Help yourself get healthy and stay healthy with these five immune-balancing strategies.
1. Incorporate immune-balancing herbs into your diet
The best form of defence against cold and flu season is preemptive action to stabilise your immune system. A variety of herbs can help your immune system fight off illness, including:
- Echinacea tea - helps fight off upper respiratory tract infections, including cold and flu viruses.
- Panax ginseng - contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Garlic - doubles as an antibacterial and immune booster.
- Ginger - promotes healthy lung function and may help reduce cholesterol.
- Turmeric - helps protect the liver and adrenal glands from toxins and inflammation.
- Sage - extract helps cleanse mucus from the respiratory tract and alleviates nasty coughs.
Many of these herbs come in common supplements, and can be used in conjunction with a healthy diet to provide all the necessary immune-balancing vitamins and minerals your body needs. However, it’s best to talk to your doctor to determine if dietary supplements are right for you.
2. Reduce your stress with music and mindfulness
While this might be easier said than done, it's good to remember that excess stress weakens your body’s ability to fight off infections with psychological stress, in particular, shown to compromise immune function.
You can reduce your stress levels through exercises such as walking, jogging, yoga and pilates. Incorporate meditation and deep-breathing exercises into your day to flush out stress. Music can also be a powerful stress-relieving tool. Learn to let the little things go, and treat yourself to a nice meal or relaxing bath to help unwind. For more ways to help reduce stress, check out our blog post “9 Natural Stress Management Techniques.”
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep allows the body to repair itself, heal wounds, regulate hormones and refresh the mind. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep weakens the immune system and weakens your defence against cold and flu infections.
To promote healthy sleep, avoid eating or exercising close to bedtime, keep your bedroom well-ventilated, turn screens off at least an hour before you go to bed, and try to go to bed around the same time every day. Other pre-sleep rituals that may help include reading a book, drinking a small glass of warm milk or decaffeinated tea and playing ambient noise – especially if you live in a noisy neighborhood.
4. Detox through diet
A healthy diet is one of your best defenses against illness. Detoxing your diet is the process of cleansing the body of environmental and food-related toxins. To help detox through diet, consider upping your intake of:
- Oregano oil - shown to eradicate bad bacteria living inside the gut.
- Green and leafy vegetables - such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and spinach boost immune function by eliminating toxins from the liver.
- Healthy fats and amino acids - found in foods such as avocado, soybeans, and almonds support a healthy adrenal function, a key component of overall immune health.
In general, when you are trying to detox your diet, try to choose foods high in soluble fiber and antioxidants, which work together to flush out bad cholesterol and free radicals. Smart choices include oatmeal, flax, carrots, blackberries, and navel oranges, as well as plenty of water. For more on eating well to help cleanse your body, try: 9 Detox Foods to Add to Your Diet.
5. Regular Infrared Sauna Use
Spending regular time in an infrared sauna can also help boost the immune system.
Infrared saunas raise your core body temperature, activating heat shock proteins and increasing your white blood cell count to provide an antiviral effect and build your first line of defence. A strong immune system is no longer a short-term focus, rather we require long-term sustained immune health stabilisers and balancers.
Several studies have shown that people who regularly used infrared saunas had significantly fewer episodes of common colds than those who did not. So, if you were looking for an excuse to bring the benefits of Sunlighten infrared saunas to your home, look no further!