As winter rolls round and the cold weather sets in, you may have noticed that it seems like everyone around you is getting sick one way or another. While no one can be totally immune to illness, there are some people that are more susceptible than others – usually due to something causing their immune system to weaken.
Keep reading to learn what can weaken an immune system, and how to avoid them to stay healthy this winter.
When we’re stressed our bodies release a surge of two hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. When these hormones are released they reduce the body’s level of white blood cells called phagocytes and lymphocytes, a deficiency in these white blood cells can make it difficult for the body to fight off viral and bacterial antigens.
Learning stress management techniques and knowing when to say no are vital for protecting your physical and mental health. Ensuring you take some time out of each day to do something you enjoy, whether it be spending time in nature, with friends or even simply watching your favourite TV show can do wonders to reducing stress levels and in turn reduce the chances of deficiency in those important white blood cells.
Not eating enough fibre
Fibre helps to keep the immune system healthy by providing nourishment to the billions of good bacteria in the gut which support the immune system.
Eating a diet rich in beans, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables can ensure you are getting enough fibre to keep your immune system healthy.
Lack of sleep
Most of us know the importance of a good night sleep, from increasing energy to improving mood, we know that getting those eight hours is vital for setting us up for a good day ahead. However how many of us knew it also has an impact on the immune system? Studies show that rest helps to energise the T cells in the body, which are immune cells that help to fight against intracellular pathogens – virus infected cells such as HIV, cancer cells and the flu. These cells work by latching onto infected cells and killing them, and their stickiness grows stronger when we are resting.
Practising a good night time routine can help to ensure you are well rested and getting enough sleep. Avoid screens an hour before bed, no caffeine after midday and creating a restful environment can all help in getting a good night’s sleep.
Spending too much time inside
You may think that staying inside when it is cold is the best thing for your immune system, however staying cooped up inside can actually have the opposite effect. Warm, enclosed spaces are the perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria, especially if you are sharing the space with other people.
Try wrapping up warm and getting outside for a walk at least once a day, preferably around midday when the sun is at its peak for the added vitamin D benefit.