Cold and flu season is upon us, but you don’t have to hide away from the outside world to ward off infection – not when there are some truly strange (but simple) ways to boost your immunity. So take a look at our selection and see what suits you…
Woodland walks can lower blood pressure
As any rambler worth their salt will tell you, walking in the woods is great for soothing the soul.The even better news is that various studies have also highlighted its benefits for the body. Wandering in forests was found to decrease levels of cortisol and lower the pulse rate and blood pressure when compared to city strolling, in a Japanese study. And research on women who ‘forest bathed’ for two hours a day for two days (a term for mindful time in the woods) found subjects had an increase in infection-fighting white blood cells for up to seven days.
Singing in the shower lowers stress levels
Shampoo-bottle microphone at the ready – it turns out that singing or listening to music for half an hour will lower your cortisol levels (high cortisol can stop your immune system from working properly). Music has also been shown to increase production of both white blood cells and immunoglobulin A, an antibody that fights bacterial and viral infections.
Chewing properly is good for your immune system
Most of us are guilty of it, but if you’re not chewing your food properly you could be putting your health at risk. A specific type of immune cell – the Th17 – can be stimulated in your mouth when you chew, according to a study from the University of Manchester last year. These cells are useful for protecting against bacterial and fungal infections. take a look at poorly people This is a weird tip, but it’s been proven that looking at photos of people coughing, sneezing and generally looking poorly can make your immune system perk up.
Cuddle your dog for health benefits!
Yet more proof that dogs are a woman’s best friend – stroking a four-legged friend was found to have a beneficial impact on college students’ immune systems and overall health, in a study from Wilkes University in America. If you don’t have your own pooch, you could consider walking a friend’s dog or volunteering at your local shelter.
Skip the antiperspirant for healthy bacteria
While your friends may not thank you(!) giving your antiperspirant a miss when you’re feeling run down could offer your immune system a helping hand. There’s a suggestion, based on a small study of just 18 people, that deodorant users have fewer bacteria living in their armpits. Scientists are starting to look into the idea that a range of bacteria living in and on your body might be related to keeping your immune system healthy. Plus there’s some speculation that antiperspirant might block the lymph nodes, which are a vital part of your immune system.
Protein snacks boost immunity
Swap your afternoon digestive biccies for a snack that’s rich in protein to help your body build immune cells. Diets that are low in protein have been shown to negatively affect immunity, so stock up on unsalted nuts, seeds or houmous. Boiled eggs are a particularly smart snack, as the yolk is high in zinc, which helps balance your immune response, as well as vitamin D, which has been proven to reduce your flu risk.
- Bacteria in your nose alter how you react to colds
Having sex boosts antibodies
As well as reducing stress and helping your heart stay healthy, having sex once or twice a week was shown to increase defence against germs and viruses by boosting antibodies, according to a Pennsylvanian study. Get in the right mood with some oysters. These have the added bonus that they provide a dose of white blood cell-boosting zinc.
Turn down music to help gut health
If you’ve ever felt your hackles rise on entering a noisy restaurant, or sitting next to someone with music blaring on the bus, your instincts could be trying to protect you. Intrusive noise can speed up your heart rate and even cause tummy troubles, and if it continues in the long term it can lower your immune function and raise your blood pressure, according to a study carried out by Cornell University. Take charge of your health by asking people to keep it down if that’s possible, or else investing in some noise-cancelling headphones.
A cup of tea can strengthen immunity
It’s a British tradition that a cup of tea is the answer to everything, and when it comes to bugs and colds this might have some truth in it. Alkylamines are naturally-occurring chemicals in your cuppa, that work to strengthen your immune system.
Think kind thoughts for your own health!
There’s one more reason to behave kindly – it can actually help you stay healthy. Students at Harvard University watched a 50-minute video of Mother Theresa performing kind acts, and through testing their saliva it was found that their levels of salivary immunoglobulin (the first point of defence against viruses, bacteria or other pathogens that reach your mouth) were increased and remained high an hour later.
Go organic to avoid colds
Upgrading some of the items in your shopping trolley to organic could mean an increase of between 18 and 69 per cent in antioxidants, as well as more vitamins and minerals, according to the British Journal of Nutrition.
Plan ahead for a strong immune system
Book up that comedy gig or schedule in a date with a friend who cracks you up. Not only will laughing help you stay healthy, but even the thought of an upcoming positive event can decrease stress hormones, according to a Californian study. As stress weakens your immunity, anything you can do to get endorphins flowing and lower cortisol will help you stay fighting fit.