Flu season officially kicks off this month. And this year with COVID-19 also spreading in our communities, staying healthy and safe should be a top priority for all of us.
We have you covered with seven ways to boost your immune system this winter. Here are a few tips for starting flu season strong.
Reduce your stress levels.
Stress has various effects on your body, including reducing the effectiveness of your immune system. If you come down with an illness, being stressed can make it last longer than normal. To manage your stress levels, try practicing meditation each day.
Moderate your alcohol intake.
Think twice about having another cocktail. Excess alcohol can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds, flu or other illnesses.
Consume power foods.
Getting your vitamins via vegetable and fruit intake is a great way to boost your immune system. Peppers, garlic, ginger, turmeric and spinach are just a few power foods to try.
Don’t skip the exercise.
Exercise contributes to your health in many ways. Studies show moving accelerates circulation of disease-fighting white blood cells, which are needed to fight illnesses.
Get more sleep.
Aim to get a minimum of eight hours a night. It helps your body recharge which can help you resist viruses.
According to the CDC, smoking harms the immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight against cold and flu viruses. It also puts you in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
Wash your hands.
Avoid infections by regularly washing your hands. This habit helps remove and prevent the spread of germs.
Emily Simpson, MD, a Mercy Health infectious diseases physician, agrees with a whole health approach in order to boost your immune system.
“All the things we can do to keep ourselves healthy – spiritually and emotionally, fueling, eating, hydrating, moving your body, activities to reduce stress levels and maintain emotional health – will absolutely reduce your likelihood of getting sick,” Dr. Simpson says.
While taking a more holistic approach to staying healthy can help, it is still very important to get your flu shot.
“Nothing supplants the role of vaccines,” says Dr. Simpson.
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, which may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or body aches, you should call your primary care provider’s office. You may be encouraged to complete a virtual visit.