Cases of influenza are on the rise this fall with health professionals warning that the worst is still to come. Take heart in knowing that you are not powerless to protect yourself against the flu. Here are seven ways that you can give your immune system a boost heading into the peak of the flu season.
Get a Flu Vaccine
The best line of defense against influenza is the flu vaccine. Not only do you lower the risk that you get the flu but you also help to stop the community from spreading because of the power of herd immunity. It is easier than ever to get the flu vaccine in a number of pharmacies and medical facilities. While it does not offer 100% protection, this vaccine will provide much-needed assistance to your immune system heading into the heights of the germy season.
Practice Good Personal Hygiene
The cornerstone of healthy living is good personal hygiene practices. The simple act of washing your hands frequently can go a long way in helping to ward off illness. The best strategy is to wash your hands before eating, after visiting the restroom, and when out in public places. Be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using warm water and lathering soap. Do not neglect to scrub the back of your hands and between the fingers where bacteria and other germs can take up residence.
Load Up on Vitamin C
It may sound cliche but there is no doubt that vitamin C is a powerful tool in your arsenal of ways to boost your immune system. Being diligent about taking your daily vitamin C tablets will improve immune function, helping to keep the flu at bay. There is no easier way to help the body's immune system function at optimal levels than by leveraging the benefits of a vitamin C supplement.
Get Plenty of Sleep
You may have noticed that you are more likely to get sick if you are feeling run down and lethargic. This is because the body's immune system functions best when you are getting plenty of rest. There is no substitute for a good night of sleep. The cytokines released during sleep are instrumental in the body's ability to guard against infections. Aim to get at least 7 - 8 hours of sleep per night. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule is also important in supporting good sleeping habits.
Staying properly hydrated is another easy way to amplify immune function. Water flushes out harmful toxins that can make you sick. Sufficient amounts of water also keep the mucus that resides in the respiratory tract thin, supporting the body's natural response to expel the mucus when you do get sick. This will speed up the healing process. You will know that you are sufficiently hydrated if your urine is clear or pale in color. Keeping a water bottle within reach all day is a good habit.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Engaging in a regular exercise program will boost blood flow. This improved circulation helps to move white blood cells around the body, an integral part of immune function. These blood cells are the first line of defense in fighting off infection as they move through the body banishing foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Working up a sweat also flushes toxins out of the body. You do not need to run marathons or compete in strenuous exercise to see these benefits.
Keep Stress Under Control
Lastly, you are going to want to be purposeful about managing the stress in your life if your goal is to support good immune function. The state of your mental health has a direct correlation to your physical health. This makes managing stress a vital part of your long-term health. Good ways to manage stress include getting plenty of sleep, practicing self-care strategies, spending time with the people that you love, and leaning into meditation or other calming exercises.
These seven strategies will work together to provide the crucial immune support needed to keep you as healthy as possible this flu season. As a bonus, practicing these tips will also leave you feeling better and more energized.