About 70 percent of us get a respiratory infection every year.
It is the most common reason that someone goes to a doctor.
That means trying to prevent you from catching that awful lombardy.
And every time it comes, it is always the same: you clamber to everything to end the boring and uncomfortable illness.
Unlike a tightened muscle or headache, there are no quick solutions: having a pill popped will not mean much to you.
There are, however, some natural methods that you can try.
Here we explain how you can improve your immunity and how you can prevent cough, cold and flu that have a solid scientific basis.
1. Eat an iridescent diet
Eating a diet rich in many different types of fruit and vegetables ensures that you get enough antioxidants in your diet.
The most important immune enhancers are vitamin A, C, D, zinc, selenium and bioflavonoids and they are found in brightly colored and green vegetables.
Vitamin A, C, D, but also zinc and selenium help to make our white blood cells more effective against invaders such as bacteria and viruses and thus contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system, says food physician Ellie Isom.
A clear and colorful diet is often recommended to support and stimulate the immune system
Vitamins A and C can be found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables, while vitamin D, because it is fat-soluble, occurs in foods such as fatty fish, dairy products and eggs. [see #4]. Zinc can also come from these foods, as well as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds [see #10].
Indeed, an overview of 83 clinical trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July of this year has thoroughly examined the amount of evidence on the subject and concluded that high intake of fruit and vegetables has led to a reduction in lead pro-inflammatory biomarkers [which can promote illness] and an improved immune cell profile. & # 39;
A clear and colorful diet is often recommended to support and stimulate the immune system & # 39 ;, says Isom.
The colors within these foods are useful components, as well as their vitamin and mineral content, "she explains.
Particularly useful for immunity are plant pigments such as flavonoids found in rosehip, blueberry and other berries, carotenoids found in foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as rutin and hesperidin naturally found in citrus fruit, and lycopene that occurs naturally in tomatoes. , strawberries and cherries.
& # 39; These nutrients are antioxidant molecules that can prevent damage to cells and tissues and reduce inflammation ,? says Isom.
2. Ensure adequate sleep
You have probably heard of the importance of enough sleep a million times before, but have you ever linked your insomnia problem to that recurrent sore throat?
In a fascinating study published in the journal last year, sleep researchers took blood samples from 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns and found that the twins with shorter sleep duration had a depressed immune system compared to his or her sibling.
"Sleep is the golden opportunity of our body to rest and recover, and a bad night's sleep is a common cause of a weakened immune system", says Isom.
& # 39; Set a normal sleep wake cycle – for example, 10 hours of sleep, & # 39; Wake up at 7 a.m. at night, avoid technology within an hour or so before bedtime and make sure you sleep in a dark room with blackout curtains and an eye mask if necessary, in addition to increasing your intake of soothing nutrients such as magnesium and theanine, can be a great starting point, "she claims.
The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes to name just a few. & # 39; However, for therapeutic levels we would recommend supplementation & # 39 ;.
The best source of theanine is green tea, says Isom. & # 39; However, this may be stimulating for some people to consume before bedtime because of the caffeine levels, in which case they help improve sleep, then we would recommend supplementation again & # 39 ;.
It works for almost everything, but research is often divided on whether movement can improve your immune system.
Some experts believe that exercise can help free up potential pathogens by keeping the lymphatic system in motion, which promotes the detoxification of the body through the lungs and skin through increased breathing capacity and perspiration. Every gym junkie will tell you that they have fewer colds or that they just sweat them out & # 39 ;.
But although it was thought for years that strenuous exercises (the intensity and quantities that top athletes do) can dampen your immune system, a study by the University of Bath published in April of this year in Frontiers in Immunology magazine challenged this idea.
The authors analyzed the available research and reinterpreted it, concluding that intense exercise – instead of dampening immunity – can be beneficial to the health of the immune system instead.
Intense exercise – instead of dampening immunity – can instead be beneficial for immune health, according to a recent study
The authors argued that low numbers of immune cells in the bloodstream in the hours after training – far from being a sign of immune suppression – are in fact a signal that these cells, primed by exercise, work in other parts of the body, which has an immunoprotective effect .
According to the Harvard Medical School: "For the time being, despite the fact that no direct favorable link has been established, it is reasonable to consider moderate regular exercise to be a beneficial arrow in shaking healthy living, a potentially important means of keep your immune system. healthy along with the rest of your body & # 39 ;.
4. Take vitamin D
Last year, a large-scale global study in the British Medical Journal suggested that adding more vitamin D to your diet could significantly lower the cost of NHS by reducing the risk of colds, flu and other dangerous respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The study, conducted by Queen Mary University in London, re-analyzed the data from 25 clinical trials involving approximately 11,000 people from 14 countries.
The authors stated that their work solves the question whether an increase in colds and flu in the winter is partly due to a vitamin D deficiency in winter.
The consumption of vitamin D supplements daily or weekly showed an immunity advantage in everyone involved in the research, but especially for those who have low levels, do not get out much, cover themselves against the sun or for religious reasons, or dark skins. have less sunlight.
Because our exposure to the sun during the winter is very limited, it is essential to supplement vitamin D to prevent deficiencies and increase immunity
So what is going on?
De The function of the immune cells is highly dependent on the metabolism of vitamin D, says Ellie Isom. & # 39; A vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections & # 39 ;.
Vitamin D strengthens the immune system's ability to recognize pathogens and respond to them, especially influenza (which causes the flu) and respiratory infections & # 39 ;, says Isom.
& # 39; Because our exposure to the sun during the winter is very limited, it is essential to supplement vitamin D to prevent deficiencies and increase immunity. & # 39;
Despite its importance, vitamin D deficiency is unfortunately very common, especially in the UK, and statistics show that up to 25 percent of the general UK population may have a vitamin D deficiency.
& # 39; This is mainly due to our lack of exposure to sunlight and a low intake through the diet, especially for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, says Isom.
Other factors that further contribute to low vitamin D levels are age, pregnancy and lactation, dark or covered skin, use of sunscreen, obesity and the intake of certain medicines.
Vitamin D can also play a role in bone health and mental health, as well as the aforementioned immune health, so deficiency symptoms can be broad and range from increased susceptibility to infections, slow wound healing, bad mood and fatigue as well as painful joints / bone pain.
& # 39; If you give a supplement, the dose depends on how your levels are to start with & # 39 ;, says Isom.
Vitamin D values can be determined by a blood test from your doctor or can be done through private tests, as well as fingerprint tests that can be ordered online from reputable companies such as BetterYou.
Governmental recommendations for vitamin D are 10 micrograms (600iu) per day to prevent a deficiency, but higher levels can be supplemented, especially during the winter months and in people with a higher risk of a deficiency.
The study suggests that vitamin D in the form of D3 is all the more effective of this nutrient & # 39 ;, says Isom.
In addition, supplementation with an emulsified vitamin D supplement, because it is a fat-soluble nutrient, can further help to maximize absorption, especially for people with digestive problems, & # 39; she suggests. Try BioCare's Nutrisorb Liquid BioMulsion D, which delivers 1000iu of vitamin D a portion.
5. Take vitamin C
Vitamin C has been a cold and flu prevention for decades, but what does science say here?
Last year, a report in the journal Nutrients concluded that: Vitamin C appears to be able to prevent and treat both respiratory and systemic infections by strengthening various immune function functions … at levels of 100-200 mg per day. & # 39;
But in 2013 a Cochrane Review was not that simple. Cochrane Reviews are released by a worldwide network of scientists, medical professionals and other professionals in 130 countries who are looking at the amount of research on a particular subject.
In their 2013 assessment, placebo-controlled studies into vitamin C and the common cold in more than 11,000 subjects were examined.
Vitamin C appears to be able to prevent and treat both respiratory and systemic infections by improving various immune function functions
They concluded that routine supplementation for the prevention of colds did not leave enough evidence.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of stress and especially if you train a lot, the findings suggested that supplementation with vitamin C could halve the risk of colds.
Moreover, when it comes to shortening the duration of colds and flu, the report claimed that supplementing with high-dose vitamin C as soon as you started showing symptoms – in the region around 8000 mg per day – could reduce the severity of your cold reduce and let it disappear faster.
"Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can improve the functioning of immune cells and helps both prevent and fight infection", says Isom. & # 39; Supplementation can reduce the cold duration by 1-1.5 days & # 39 ;.
The best form of vitamin C to supplement is magnesium ascorbate. Isom suggests. This is vitamin C buffered with magnesium, making it less acidic.
& # 39; Dosage suggests that doses of about 1000 mg may be beneficial for supporting the immune system. However, this can be increased during periods of poor health [see above]. & # 39;
6. Put garlic in everywhere
Garlic is a natural antimicrobial (antibacterial and antifungal) and anti-inflammatory substance
Garlic is a natural antimicrobial (antibacterial and antifungal) and anti-inflammatory substance, says Isom.
• Various garlic preparations have been shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against parasitic bacteria such as Escherichia, Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Clostridium to name but a few, & # 39; she says. But they are all complicated creatures. It means that garlic can help to support the immune system by supporting the microbial balance in the gut & # 39 ;.
In fact, the majority of research on garlic and the immune system relates to its antibacterial properties, Isom points out.
& # 39; There is very limited research that exists on the use of garlic as an antiviral agent, & # 39; Isom says. & # 39; Therefore, the use of garlic for the direct prevention of colds, which is viral, is questionable.
However, some studies indicate that garlic can increase the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells involved in the prevention and control of viral infections. Consuming garlic may therefore be beneficial, but may not be the first point of call for cold prevention because of the lack of research & # 39;
7. Get to know probiotics
Your stomach is now referred to by experts as the & # 39; second immune system & # 39; from the body.
That's because the intestinal immune system contains 70-80 percent of the immune cells of the body and can be the main gateway for infections, Isom explains.
"An imbalance in our gut microflora has been linked to an increased presence of infections, as well as autoimmune diseases," she says.
• Supporting the intestinal health with live bacteria or probiotics can really be beneficial for supporting the immune system & # 39;
Our modern, highly processed diets and stressed lifestyles can have a negative impact on our gut bacteria, especially during the winter period and with the abandonment of Christmas.
In another Cochrane Systematic Review published in 2011, authors looked at 14 randomized clinical trials and concluded that the use of probiotics was better than placebo to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and reduce the need for antibiotics.
Our modern, highly processed diets and stressed lifestyles can have a negative impact on our gut bacteria, especially during the winter and with Christmas indulgences such as alcohol and minced pies.
So supporting our gut microbiome is especially important at this time of the year, Isom says.
& # 39; This can be done through supplementation or use of fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha.
8. Load beta glucans in mushrooms and oats
Beta-lucans are a type of carbohydrates that are present in the cell walls of certain fungi, such as mushrooms, and in the cell walls of foods such as whole oats.
These are able to stimulate our immune system and can help reduce the occurrence, symptoms and duration of infections of the upper respiratory tract and colds, thus increasing our intake via food and supplements at this time of the year. come in handy & # 39; advises Isom.
People who consumed beta-glucans in a recent study had a 25 percent lower risk of symptomatic cold and flu infections
In fact, in 2013, a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study published in the Journal of European Nutrition found that supplementation with beta-glucans (obtained in the Brewer & # 39; s Yeast study) is the number of symptomatic colds and flu infections in subjects with 25 percent.
Other rich sources of beta-glucans are barley, wheat, rye and seaweed.
9. Wash your hands all the time!
According to the Global Handwashing Partnership, hand washing can help prevent up to 21 percent of the colds and infections of the upper respiratory tract – pretty good for something that's completely free.
This is how it works. Germs live on all our hands, whether we like it or not. According to the Center for Disease Control in the US, people touch their face, nose, mouth and eyes without even realizing that germs enter the body through these areas and make us sick.
If you do not wash your hands when you step out of that infected train and inevitably touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you are infected
Suppose you are on a full tube and one person sneezes and that person has a cold. These germ particles literally end up in that tube everywhere, so the next thing that you touch, for example the newspaper you grab behind the insulting niezer, might be infected with those germs.
If you do not wash your hands when you step out of that infected tube and inevitably touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you are infected.
This is also the reason why the person who sneezes has to catch his sneezing sounds – along with the coughing and yawning – in a tissue that they then throw away.
It speaks for itself, but we say it anyway – use three soap pumps and wash them with warm water, so they foam well! View the NHS video here.
10. Take zinc
Zinc is known as a common cold and in 2014 a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which looked into the evidence for colds, concluded that taking 10-15 mg zinc sulfate was probably beneficial in preventing colds, especially in children .
In one of the studies in the report, the proportion of children without colds during the study period was 33 percent in the zinc group versus 14 percent in the control group.
Zinc supplements are best taken an hour before a meal, or 2-3 hours after a meal
According to the NHS, the recommended daily amount of zinc for women is 7 mg and 9.5 mg for men (aged 19-64 years). It is a bit different for children. 1-3 year olds must use 5 mg, 4-6 years old must have 6.5 mg, 7-10 year olds must have 7 mg and 11-14 years old must have 9 mg.
Zinc supplements are best taken an hour before a meal, or 2-3 hours after a meal.
Although the evidence for cold prevention with zinc comes from studies involving only children, there is no biological reason why zinc would only work in children and not in adults, the authors conclude.
- This article was originally published by Healthista