Last Updated on: October 7, 2009 by Ingrid King
With flu season looming, or, if media reports are to be believed, already in full swing, we are all looking for ways to boost our immune system and stay healthy. Nobody wants to catch the dreaded flu. Even a cold can lay us flat for a few days, or at the very least, make us miserable. The media has done a good job to make us afraid of this season’s latest threat, the swine flu (read my post Afraid of the Swine Flu? Don’t Be. for my take on how not to get caught up in fear-based thinking around this issue). So what can we do to stay healthy?
On a physical level, there are many different ways to boost the immune system. Here are some of my favorites:
- Don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting your exercise. Just 30 minutes a day of light aerobic exercise can help keep your immune system healthy.
- Wash your hands frequently. Studies have shown that nothing prevents a cold better than thorough and frequent handwashing. If you can’t get to a faucet, use anti-bacterial gel or wipes.
- Limit your intake of sugar and highly processed foods – both have been shown to depress the immune system.
- Take a good daily multi-vitamin. Do your research and make sure the brand you take has good bio-availability. Most over the counter brands don’t.
- Take extra vitamin C. I take 1000 mg a day, and if I’m around anyone who’s sick, I double that dose.
- New research shows that probiotic supplements contribute to a healthy immune system. As with all supplements, be sure you research the brand you use to make sure it really contains quality ingredients.
- Make sure you get enough vitamin D. While the best way to get your vitamin D is through 15-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure each day, those of us living in the northern hemisphere may find it challenging to get that much during the winter months. If you are taking vitamin D supplements, you may want to get your vitamin D blood levels tested periodically.
- Look into holistic or natural products you can take to prevent colds, or at the early stages of a cold to lessen the duration and the severity. Products containing zinc can be very effective. There are also a number of homeopathic products that work well.
- Eat chocolate! Dark chocolate contains lots of anti-oxidants and is actually good for us (in moderation!).
- Reiki and other energy therapies can help boost your immune system by alleviating the damaging effects of stress. Stress is the major culprit when it comes to weakening our immune system.
But beyond these physical immune boosters, there’s another way to boost your immune system and stay healthy this winter, and it’s available to all of us at no charge. Your mindset plays a major role in your overall health. Cutting edge research by scientists such as cell biologist Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. has shown that our thoughts can actually alter the cells in our bodies, down to the level of changing our genes. So why not use this powerful tool to our advantage rather than disadvantage? Instead of worrying about getting sick, why not focus on being healthy and having lots of energy? Make a conscious choice to be healthy!
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.