As we smack on into the cold and flu season, building your immunity becomes more important than ever. Here are 7 interesting ways experts say you can protect your health during the winter holiday season - By Colette Bouchez Winter is almost officially here andit’s not just Santa Claus who’s comin’ to town. Cold and flu season is hitching a ride and on it's way too!
In a perfect world, your immune system goes to work as soon as those germs make a landing, producing powerful killer cells to attack that cold or flu and keep you from getting sick.
But many factors in our life and our lifestyle - including our age - can sometimes compromise that immunity, making it harder to fight germs and stay healthy, particularly during the winter season.
While some studies show taking herbs like Echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus can help -and a flu vaccine offers important protection too – there are also a variety of things you can do to boost your immune power during the winter season – and get the optimal protection you need to greet the New Year with good health as well as good cheer!
To help get you started, here 7 fun and unique ways experts say you can boost your immunity and stay healthier throughout the holiday season.
1. Eat more yogurt -Few folks realize that a good deal of our immune protection begins in the gut, where one of the first germ-fighting battles begins. To help give your body the ammunition it needs to fight, add more yogurt to your diet, say Jacob Teitlebaum, MD, Medical Director of the nationwide Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. Why? Teitlebaum says yogurt is a great source of “probiotics” – the “friendly “ bacteria that help your tummy fend off germs and bacteria – and can help you fight off a cold or flu.
2. Eat less sugar- What’s a holiday season with out sweets, right? A little bit is okay – but eat too much and you could end up not only adding on a few pounds but also increasing your risk of getting sick. Why? According to preventive medicine specialist Mark Moyad, MD, Director of Preventive & Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, “The sugar in just one can of soda can decrease immune function by up to 30% for three hours - it mmobilizes immune cells and impacts their ability to surround bacteria and destroy it.”
3. Donate Blood- Not only will you help someone else, but you’ll also get a “feel good “ boost to your immune system which can help you fight off germs. But more important, Moyad says that giving blood reduces your overall iron content – and since bacteria feed on iron reducing levels can help “starve” germs so they can’t multiply as quickly or attack as hard.
4. Drink Matcha Tea– The key here is powerful levels of antioxidants – nutrients that help increase your resistance to infection. According to pharmacist Suzy Cohen RPh, nothing beats the antioxidant power of Matcha tea – a powdered form of ground up green tea leaves sold under many brand names and available online and in most health food stores. Cohen says that just one cup of Matcha tea nets you the antioxidant power found in up to 10 cups of regular green tea – and up to 100 times the antioxidant power of vitamins C and E.
5. Watch The Wine– While wine is good for your heart and your overall health, drink too much and Moyad says you depress your immune system. Too much wine, says Moyad, can reduce the nutritional content in your blood stream, dropping levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin C – both important for fight off germs, he says. Moreover, if you want to prevent those “travel colds “ that seem to pop up after a plane trip, don’t drink in flight. Moyad says this can help reduce your risk of picking up a cold or flu germ present in the plane or at the airport.
6. Smile!- According to studies published by Loma Linda University in California brain chemicals linked to immunity increase when we laugh – or even think about something funny. So rent a funny movie, watch your favorite sit com or just think about people that make you smile – all of it can help you stay healthier through the season!
7. Have more Sex- A study from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania found that men and women who had one to two sexual encounters per week had a 30% increase in IgA – antigens that are found in saliva and in the mucous membranes and are considered the first line of defense against cold and flu viruses. Exactly how or why sexual activity causes an increase is not well understood but … do you really need a reason? :)