1. To prevent colds, flu and gastroenteritis, strengthen your immune system.
Do you have repeated or chronic colds? Do you get the flu more often than most people? Do you come down with gastroenteritis (also known as gastro or stomach flu) every holiday season? Fight back with a strong, healthy immune system.
Your immune system defends your body against harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses.
Here are 5 basic tips on boosting your immune system.
1-Eat a healthy diet.
- Stay away from sugar, and sugary drinks and food which affects the immune system’s white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infections.
- Watch your alcohol intake. If you drink, drink in moderation. Alcohol weakens the white blood cells’ ability to defend against attacks from foreign invaders, undermining your body’s resistance to infections.
- Eat more:
– Dark green, red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, which are bursting with antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and beta carotene; these antioxidants help activate the immune system.
– Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, calf’s liver, lean ground beef, chicken (dark meat) and legumes (pulses). Zinc is an essential trace element that stimulates white blood cell production and hinders viruses’ ability to multiply.
– Foods rich in immunity-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, trout, Arctic charr, sardines, mackerel), flaxseeds and nuts.
– Mushrooms like shiitake, reishi and maitake, which help to stimulate your immune defenses so that they are better able to fight infection.
– Garlic, onions and shallots, for their antimicrobial properties.
2-Engage in moderate-intensity physical activity.
- A daily 30-minute walk, for example, aids in stimulating circulation; this facilitates the movement of the white blood cells around the body, making them more effective in fighting infection.
- Getting too much exercise is as bad as not getting enough. Did you know that overtraining may be linked to an increased incidence of upper respiratory tract infections such as colds and flu?
3-Sleep 7 to 9 hours a night.
- Getting enough restorative sleep is associated with increased resistance to infectious diseases.
- However, a lack of sleep increases our levels of stress hormones, weakening the immune system.
- Stress triggers the release of hormones, particularly cortisol and adrenaline. Although these hormones are useful in the short term, when produced for extended periods, they prevent the immune system from functioning properly.
- Methods for managing your stress:- Try to determine what is causing your stress and, instead of ignoring it, find ways to better cope with it such as slowing down, getting some exercise or meditating, and, if necessary, consult a medical professional.- Don’t neglect your friends and your social life. Build a strong social network: people with a good social support system have stronger immune systems than those who don’t.
5- Laugh—it’s good for your immune system!
- Cultivate your sense of humour. Laughing lowers stress hormone levels in the body and stimulates infection-fighting white blood cells.
Good to know: Smoking or the use of recreational drugs such as cannabis weakens the immune system and significantly increases your risk of contracting certain infections.
2. To ease joint pain, keep warm!
Do the cold and damp play havoc with your joints? Do you wonder why certain weather seems to aggravate your aches and pains?
Although scientists have yet to produce a firm explanation for this phenomenon, here is one possibility.
- The joints, which are protected by cartilage, must be constantly lubricated with synovial fluid, which is secreted by the body. Cold temperatures seem to decrease synovial fluid production.
- In addition, the cold causes the small blood vessels to constrict, hindering blood circulation, which in turn deprives the muscles and joints of oxygen so that they become stiff and painful.
Here are a few practical tips for preventing and relieving joint pain.
- At home :
– During the day, wear multiple layers of clothing, as well as warm socks and gloves if needed.- At night, make sure you have plenty of covers. If necessary, use an electric blanket.
– Indulge in a warm shower or bath to soothe your aching joints.
– Give yourself a little massage with essential oils, which can activate your circulation and lessen pain.
– Do not stress your joints needlessly. For example, instead of trying to lift a heavy object yourself, ask someone else to do it.
- When you are outdoors:
– Wear warm clothes, and don’t forget your gloves, scarf, hat (or tuque), and warm socks and footwear.
- Exercise; the following types of exercise are recommended:
– Yoga, swimming or any other form of low-impact exercise with minimal impact on the joints, to protect your joints and strengthen your muscles and bones.
– Gentle flexibility and stretching exercises, particularly before outdoor exercise.
Boosting your immune system
with Adrien Gagnon
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