by Jenna Verhoeven
Winter is well and truly here. It’s dark when many of us leave the house in the morning on our way to work, or classes. Likewise, by the time many of us are wrapping up our last tute, or lecture, the sun has already gone to bed. With the change of seasons, a new round of colds and ‘flu are making themselves known.
Each day when I get on the bus there is a new type of sniffle, or a different cough or splutter among the commuters. So just short of wearing a bio-hazard suit on public transport, or not leaving the house all winter, what can we do to support our immune systems?
Know your symptoms
We all know what it’s like to have a cold, many of us experience colds differently. For some of us, it goes straight for the nose, days of a running, dripping nose, which often leads to post-nasal drip with a cough, or even sinusitis. For others, colds start with a tickle in the throat, and lead us to feeling as though we have swallowed razor blades. Then there are those of us who, the second they get a cold, it drops straight down into the chest and results in weeks of coughing and spluttering. Regardless as to how you experience the cold, there are some tips and tricks to help boost your immune system and try to limit the likelihood of you getting sick in the first place.
Fight back – build your immune system
Here are three of my top tips for staying fighting fit this winter.
C – Vitamin C
Most of us are quick to think of Vitamin C the minute we are feeling a bit under the weather. Vitamin C is essential for immune support as it helps to increase our very own army against infections. Vitamin C helps to increase the activity of our T-cells, natural-killer (NK) cells, and phagocytes. Our T-cells help to round up our defense system, whilst other T-cells help to destroy our infected cells; likewise, with a name like Natural Killer cells, our NK cells will attach themselves to a targeted cell and damage and destroy it. The greater our defense system, the more robust our immune system is, the quicker it can act to prevent, and reduce the impact of pathogens such as colds and ‘flu.
R – rest
I am a major advocate for resting when unwell. Taking a sick day, or lightening your load for a day or two has two benefits. Not only will staying home prevent the spread of your cold or ‘flu to your fellow commuters, colleagues, or classmates, but resting also gives your body the chance to divert all its energy and attention to fighting your lurgy. The more running around you do, the less energy your body can devote to its immune system army.
Z – zinc
One of my favourite minerals for immune support. Zinc is essential for the growth, development, differentiation and death of cells. This includes those that are part of the immune system defense army, our NK cells, neutrophils, and T-lymphocytes. One of our favourite sources of zinc is oysters, but you can also find zinc in lean red meats, pulses, chicken, nuts and seeds, and the winter warmer, ginger!
So hopefully you have a better understand as to why some many people suggest that you “have some orange juice” when you’re coming down with a cold. Don’t forget, if you’re feeling like your immune system needs a bit of a boost, it’s best in implement a support plan BEFORE you get sick. They say prevention is better than a cure, and it is often easier to lay a great immune support foundation, than try to deal with a lurgy after it has set in.