7 ways to boost your immune system

Your immune system is your body’s defence mechanism. It works tirelessly to fight off bugs and viruses and help you stay healthy. But as you get older your immunity naturally becomes weaker – unless you do all you can to protect yourself. Thankfully just a few little lifestyle tricks are all you need to reinforce your armoury, so follow our seven easy steps to a healthy glow.

1. Lower your stress levels

Getting stressed could change the levels of protective bacteria that live in your gut, say US researchers. This could impact your immunity by leaving more room in your intestines for unhealthy bacteria. Finding ways to relax every day could help to reduce the impact of stress on your body.

Choose something that works for you – whether it’s a walk in the fresh air, a warm bath or half an hour with a good book. Taking a daily dose of probiotics might help, too.

2. Get moving

A daily walk or a simple exercise routine a few times a week could help you fight off colds. Exercise is thought to help your immune system fight off simple bacterial and viral infections – but scientists still haven’t quite established why.

It could be that aerobic exercise helps to flush bacteria from your lungs and through sweat. Other experts believe it increases antibodies and protective white blood cells, and that the increase in your body temperature helps to fight off infections. They all agree that it works though, so try to get some exercise every day.

3. Vitamin boost

Try taking 25mg of Vitamin D every day as a supplement. Research has shown that Vitamin D could help to bolster your immunity  by helping your body make the T-cells that fight infection. The researchers found people with low Vitamin D levels are more susceptible to bugs.

You make Vitamin D in your skin when it comes into contact with sunshine, and during the winter months this is generally in short supply, so the NHS recommends everyone over 65 take a daily Vitamin D supplement.

4. An apple a day

Snack on an apple and you’ll be increasing the number of immune-boosting proteins in your body. It’s the pectin in apples that gives you the benefits – and this can also be found in pears and citrus fruits.

Scientists say that eating pectin-rich fruits also helps to shorten the duration of a cold, too.

5. Stay warm

Getting chilly in itself might not give you a cold – but it could weaken your defences. If you’re already carrying a cold virus then getting cold or wet may increase the risk of it taking hold.

Researchers from the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff think that getting chilled causes the blood vessels in your nose to constrict, which makes it easier for a virus to replicate. Wrap up warm on brisk days and be sure to keep the room you sit and sleep in heated. The World Health Organisation suggests that your heating should be set to a minimum of 16°C for good health.

6. Think positive

Jolly, glass-half-full people are more likely to have strong immune systems. US scientists found that positive people seemed to have better defences to common bugs – and that the more up-beat they were the stronger their immunity was.

The experts aren’t exactly sure how being optimistic improves your immunity, but it could be that positive people find looking after themselves and fighting off immune-dampening stress easier.

7. Try Echinacea

Have you ever thought about using a herbal remedy if you succumb to colds and flu this winter? Why not try Echinaforce Echinacea drops and tablets (£9.15 RRP/50ml or 120 tabs) – licensed traditional herbal remedies for the symptomatic relief of colds and flu.

Echinaforce helps the body to fight the symptoms of these infections by supporting the immune system. Available from health stores, pharmacies and larger Boots stores.

For more information visit www.avogel.co.uk or call the helpline on 0845 608 5858. Always read the leaflet.

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