As winter’s cold and flu season approaches, I try to be conscious of doing things to help boost my immune system and stay healthy. Here are four easy steps you can take to help boost your immune system this season.
1. Take a Cold Shower
Something I’ve done for years is to end each shower with a blast of cold water. Studies have shown that ending your shower with 30-seconds of cold water helps to boost your immune system. I’m sure some of you are saying “yikes! I can’t do that!” And admittedly, it was a bit hard to get used to at first, but after a couple of showers it’s really not bad at all. You don’t have to put your head under the cold water, just your torso/body. A blast of cold water also has the added benefit of constricting surface blood vessels which helps you to retain body heat in the winter.
2. Eat Foods High in Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a great immune booster and also has excellent anti-viral properties as well. Vitamin A is found in beta-carotene, the yellow-orange pigment that gives carrots, red/orange peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and apricots their color. Dark-leafy greens are also high in Vitamin A. The current daily recommended value for Vitamin A is 5000 IU. If I feel like I’m getting sick I take a supplement of 10,000 UI/day for a week. Note that it’s not recommended to take that high a dose for more than about a week as you can build up too much of this fat-soluble vitamin.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Most people need somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep a night, often times more in the dark, winter months. Did you know that your body takes advantage of your sleep-time to rebuild the immune system (among other things it repairs while you are sleeping)? Without enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t have the time to re-build, and can get over-taxed and run down. An added benefit of getting enough sleep is that it can aid in weight loss. Recent studies have shown that just ensuring you get at least 8-hours of sleep a night can actually help you lose weight.
4. Wash Your Hands
To help avoid those nasty cold/flu germs, I make sure to wash my hands after touching door handles, using a shopping cart, ATM machine, someone else’s pen, or even shaking someone’s hand — after all, do you know where their hand has been?
It’s the friction of washing your hands that actually kills germs — so be sure to rub your hands together quickly for at least 20 seconds. I also keep a small bottle of Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Defence Hand Spray or my home-made Thieves Oil hand sanitizer in my car and purse for those times when a sink and soapy water isn’t available.
I don’t believe in using antibacterial soaps or hand cleaners. Overuse of antibacterial “everything”, is creating super-bugs that are antibiotic resistant. And in fact the USFDA is banning antibacterial soaps. Research also shows that antibacterial soaps can mess with your immune system too… but that’s a topic for another post.