How can you boost your immune system this winter?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal influenza viruses are in full swing. The CDC states that while the exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, most of the activity peaks in February and can last as late as May in certain parts of the country. Meanwhile, the CDC's most recent weekly Influenza Surveillance Report found that while flu activity decreased slightly from the week before, the numbers are still elevated.
Essentially, you aren't out the woods quite yet when it comes to avoiding influenza-like illnesses. While you can run out and get a flu shot or stay away from your sick friends and family, you want to do more to stay healthy this winter. To help protect yourself and boost your immune system this season, consider these five lifestyle suggestions:
1. Eat nutrient-rich foods
If you want to boost your immunity this winter, focus on eating nutrient-rich foods, such as vitamins A, B, C, D and E, along with foods with beneficial minerals. Essentially, eat out less and consume whole, non-processed meals and ingredients. Consider integrating antioxidant, anti-inflammatory foods such as blueberries, beets, spinach, broccoli, ginger, onions, whole grains and seeds.
2. Exercise regularly
As much of a hassle as it can be to go out for a run or to the gym, most experts recommend exercise as a way to tackle most of our body's problems. From depression to weight loss to improved immune function, regular exercise is known to have positive affects on your mental and physical well-being. While it doesn't always how you work out, a 2013 study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that people should get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Avoid the temptation to go without the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep a night. You might have a lot to get done during the week, but there are numerous studies directly linking a lack of sleep without lowered immune systems and sickness. If you want to avoid contracting everything from the common cold to reactivating old viruses in your body, you need to make an effort to get plenty of rest each night. If you have trouble getting to sleep earlier, turn off all your electronics 30 minutes or more prior to sleeping and consider meditating or stretching before getting into bed.
4. Drink green tea
Green tea offers numerous benefits for the immune system, particularly due to its many anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Some research even suggests that the antioxidant offerings of green tea have led to significant reductions in risk for developing breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. Other studies indicate that regular consumption of green tea lowers total cholesterol levels and promotes healthy weight loss.
5. Consume seaweed
Eating seaweed regularly can have positive effects on your body's immune system. One reason is because seaweed contains the complex carbohydrate fucoidan, which is known to reduce inflammation. Some research even found that fucoidan caused early death for cancerous cells. Some studies show that fucoidan from brown seaweed boosts the immune system, fights off infections and lowers blood pressure levels.
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