About 70% of us will receive a respiratory infection each year.
It's the most common reason someone goes to a doctor.
This means trying to avoid capturing that horrible lurgy is a daunting task.
And every time he comes around, it's always the same: they're scrambling for anything to end the boring and uncomfortable illness.
Unlike a pulled muscle or a headache, there are no quick fixes: popping a pill will not do much for you.
However, there are some natural methods that you can try.
Here, we explain ways to increase your immunity and help prevent coughs, colds and flu that have a solid scientific basis.
1. Eat a rainbow-colored diet
Eating a diet rich in different fruits and vegetables will guarantee you a lot of antioxidants in your diet.
The key immunostimulant substances are vitamins A, C, D, zinc, selenium and bioflavonoids and are found in brightly colored and green vegetables.
Vitamins A, C, D, as well as zinc and selenium help make our white blood cells more effective in fighting off invaders like bacteria and viruses and, in doing so, contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system, says Ellie nutrition therapist Isom.
A bright and colorful diet is often recommended to help support and strengthen the immune system
"Vitamins A and C are found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables, while vitamin D, because it is fat-soluble, is found in foods such as fatty fish, dairy products and eggs [see #4]. Zinc can also come from these foods, as well as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds [see #10].
In fact, a review of 83 clinical studies published in July of this year on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has carefully examined the body of evidence on the subject and concluded that "the elevated intake of fruits and vegetables leads to a reduction of pro-inflammatory biomarkers [which can promote illness] and an enhanced immune cell profile. "
"A bright and colorful diet is often recommended to help support and strengthen the immune system," says Isom.
"The colors of these foods are beneficial components, as well as their content in vitamins and minerals," he explains.
Particularly useful for the immunity are the vegetable pigments such as the flavonoids present in the rosehip, the blueberry and other berries, the carotenoids present in food such as carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as the rutin and the hesperidin naturally present in the citrus fruits and lycopene naturally present in tomatoes, strawberries and cherries.
"These nutrients are antioxidant molecules that can prevent cell and tissue damage and reduce inflammation," says Isom.
2. Sleep enough
You've probably heard about the importance of getting enough sleep a million times before, but have you ever connected your problem of insomnia to those recurring sore throats?
In a fascinating study published last year in the journal Sleep, the researchers took blood samples from 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns and found that the twin with a shorter sleep duration had an immune system depressed, compared to his brother.
"Sleep is the gold opportunity of our body to rest and repair, and poor sleep is a common driver of a weakened immune system," says Isom.
• Establish a normal sleep-wake cycle – for example, 10 hours of sleep, 7:00 am, avoiding the technology in about an hour before going to bed, and making sure you sleep in a dark room with blackout curtains and eye mask if necessary, in addition to increasing your intake of soothing nutrients such as magnesium and theanine can be a great place to start, "he says.
The best sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes to name a few. "However, for therapeutic levels we recommend integration".
"The best source of theanine is green tea," says Isom. "However, this could be stimulating for some people to consume before sleep because of caffeine levels, in which case to help improve sleep, we would once again recommend supplementation."
It works for almost everything, but research has often been broken down based on whether physical exercise can improve the immune system.
Some experts believe that exercise can help release potential pathogens by keeping the lymphatic system moving, which promotes detoxification of the body through the lungs and skin through increased respiratory capacity and sweat. Any gym junkie will tell you that they have less colds or "sweat".
But while for years it has been believed that strenuous exercise (the intensity and quantity of elite athletes) could dampen the immune system, a study by the University of Bath, published in & # 39; April of this year on Frontiers magazine in Immunology, challenged this idea.
The authors analyzed the available research and reinterpreted it, concluding that an intense exercise – instead of reducing immunity – could instead be beneficial for immune health.
Strenuous exercise – instead of reducing immunity – could be beneficial for immune health, according to a recent study
The authors have suggested that a low number of immune cells in the bloodstream in the hours following exercise – far from being a sign of immune suppression – indeed a signal that these cells, triggered by exercise , they are working in other parts of the body, which has an immunoprotective effect.
According to Harvard Medical School, "For now, even if a direct beneficial link has not been established, it is reasonable to consider moderate exercise as a beneficial arrow in the quiver of healthy living, a potentially important means of maintaining the system. healthy immune with the rest of your body ".
4. Take vitamin D
Last year, a major global study published in the British Medical Journal suggested that adding more vitamin D to your diet could significantly reduce the costs of the NHS, reducing the risk of colds, flu and other respiratory infections. dangerous as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The study, conducted by Queen Mary University in London, has re-analyzed data from 25 clinical trials involving about 11,000 people from 14 countries.
The authors have suggested that their work solves the question of whether an increase in cold and flu in winter is partly due to vitamin D deficiency in winter.
Consumption of daily or weekly vitamin D supplements has shown an immune benefit in all people involved in the research, but especially for those who have low levels, do not go out much, cover themselves from the sun or for religious reasons or have dark skin that they absorb less sunlight.
Because solar exposure becomes very limited during the winter, it is essential to integrate vitamin D to prevent deficiencies and increase immunity
So what's going on?
"The function of immune cells is strongly dependent on the metabolism of vitamin D," says Ellie Isom. "Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections".
"Vitamin D improves the ability of the immune system to recognize pathogens and initiate a response against them, particularly influenza (which causes influenza) and respiratory tract infections," he says. Isom.
"Because solar exposure becomes very limited during the winter, it is essential to integrate vitamin D to prevent deficiencies and increase immunity."
Despite its importance, vitamin D deficiency is unfortunately very common, particularly in the United Kingdom, and statistics show that up to 25 percent of the general population of the United Kingdom may be deficient in vitamin D.
"This is mainly due to our lack of exposure to sunlight and poor dietary intake, especially for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet," says Isom.
Other factors that further contribute to low levels of vitamin D include old age, pregnancy and breastfeeding, dark or covered skin, the use of sunscreen, obesity and obesity. taking some medications.
Vitamin D can also play a role in bone health and mental health, as well as the aforementioned immune health, so the symptoms of deficiency can be large and range from increased susceptibility to infection, slow healing of wounds, # 39; low mood and fatigue as well as aching joints / bone pain.
"If you're completing, the dose will depend on what your levels are like to start," says Isom.
Vitamin D levels can be determined by a blood test from your family doctor or can be done via private tests, as well as fingerprint tests that can be ordered online by reputable companies like BetterYou.
The government's recommendations for vitamin D are 10 micrograms (600iu) per day to avoid deficiencies, however it is possible to supplement higher levels, especially during the winter months and in those with a greater risk of deficiency.
"Research suggests that vitamin D in the form of D3 is the most effective of this nutrient," says Isom.
"In addition, supplementing with an emulsified vitamin D supplement, as it is a fat-soluble nutrient, can further help maximize absorption, especially for those with digestive problems," he suggests. Try Bio Nutrition BioMulsion D from BioCare which provides a 1000iu portion of vitamin D.
5. Take vitamin C
Vitamin C has been acclaimed for decades by a cold and a flu, but what does science say?
Last year, a report published in Nutrients magazine concluded that "Vitamin C seems to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections by improving various functions of immune cells … at levels of 100-200 mg per day ".
But in 2013, a Cochrane review was not so simple. The Cochrane reviews are released by a global network of scientists, doctors and other professionals in 130 countries examining the body of research on a given topic.
Their 2013 review examined placebo-controlled studies on vitamin C and the common cold on over 11,000 study participants.
Vitamin C seems to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections by improving the various functions of immune cells
They concluded that routine integration for cold prevention did not have sufficient evidence behind it.
On the other hand, if you're under stress and especially if you do a lot of exercise, the results suggest that supplementing with vitamin C could cut the risk of a cold in half.
In addition, when it comes to reducing the duration of colds and colds, the report said that supplementation with a high dose of vitamin C as soon as the symptoms began to show – in the region to take about 8000mg a day – it could reduce the severity of the cold and make it go away faster.
"Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can improve the functioning of immune cells, helping both with prevention and fighting infections," says Isom. "Supplementation can reduce the duration of the cold by 1-1.5 days".
The best form of vitamin C to supplement is magnesium ascorbate. Isom suggests. This is vitamin C buffered with magnesium, which makes it less acidic.
"At the dose level, research suggests that doses of about 1000 mg may be useful to support the immune system, but this may be increased during periods of poor health. [see above]. '
6. Put the garlic in all
Garlic is a natural antimicrobial compound (antibacterial and antifungal) and anti-inflammatory
Garlic is a natural antimicrobial compound (antibacterial and antifungal) and anti-inflammatory, says Isom.
"Various garlic-based products have been shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against parasitic bacteria such as Escherichia, Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Clostridium to name a few," he says. But they're all gut bugs. "It means that garlic can help support the immune system by supporting the microbial balance of the gut".
In fact, most of the research on garlic and the immune system refers to its antibacterial properties, emphasizes Isom.
"There is very limited research into the use of garlic as an antiviral," says Isom. "Therefore, the use of garlic for direct prevention of a common cold, which is viral, is debatable.
"However, some studies indicate that garlic can increase the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that are involved in the containment and control of viral infections.Thus, consuming garlic might be useful, but perhaps it is not the first point of reference for the prevention of cold due to the lack of research ".
7. Know probiotics
Your gut is now referred to by experts as the "second immune system" of the body.
This is because the immune system of the intestine contains 70-80% of the body's immune cells and can be the main gate for infections, explains Isom.
"An imbalance in our intestinal microflora has been linked to increased infection, as well as autoimmune conditions," he says.
"Supporting the health of the intestine with live bacteria or probiotics can be really helpful in supporting the immune system".
Our modern highly developed diets and stressed lifestyles can have a negative impact on our intestinal bacteria, especially during the winter period and with Christmas indulgences
In another Cochrane Systematic Review published in 2011, the authors examined 14 randomized clinical trials and concluded that the use of probiotics was better than placebo to help reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and reduce the need for antibiotics.
Our modern highly developed diets and stressed lifestyles can negatively affect our intestinal bacteria, especially during the winter and with Christmas indulgences, such as alcohol and mince pies.
So supporting our intestinal microbiome is particularly important during this time of year, says Isom.
"This can be done through the integration or consumption of fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha".
8. Load beta-glucans in mushrooms and oats
Beta glucans are a type of carbohydrate found in the cell walls of some fungi like mushrooms and in cell walls of foods like whole oats.
"These are able to stimulate our immune system and can help reduce the onset, symptoms and duration of infections and upper respiratory tract colds, so increasing our intake through foods and supplements can be helpful in this period of the year "advises Isom.
People who consumed beta glucans in a recent study were 25% less likely to have symptomatic cold and flu infections
In fact, in a 2013 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study published in the Journal of European Nutrition, it was found that supplementation with beta glucans (those treated in the study with the brewer's yeast from which it originated) has reduced the number of symptomatic colds and flu infections in subjects by 25%.
Other rich sources of beta glucans include barley, wheat, rye and algae.
9. Always wash your hands!
According to the Global Handwashing Partnership, handwashing can help prevent up to 21% of colds and upper respiratory tract infections, going quite well for something that is totally free.
Here's how it works. The germs live on all our hands, whether we like it or not. According to the Center for Disease Control in the United States, "people touch their faces, nose, mouth and eyes without even realizing it and the germs penetrate the body through these areas and make us sick.
If you do not wash your hands when you get off the infected train and inevitably touch your eyes, nose or mouth, soon, then you're infected
Say that you are on a full tube and a person sneezes and that person has a cold. Those germinal particles literally end up all that tube, so the next thing you touch, for example the newspaper you grabbed from behind the sneezer, could be infected by those germs.
If you do not wash your hands when you come down from the infected tube and inevitably touch your eyes, nose or mouth, soon, then you're infected.
This is also why the person sneezes should be trapping their sneezes – along with the cough and yawning – in a tissue that they then dispose of.
Needless to say, but we'll say anyway: use three soaps and wash with warm water, creating a good foam! Watch the NHS video here.
10. Take the zinc
Zinc is well known as a remedy for colds and in 2014 a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal examining evidence for common cold remedies concluded that the intake of 10-15 mg of zinc sulphate could be useful for preventing colds, especially in children.
In one of the studies of the report, the percentage of children without a cold during the study period was 33% in the zinc group compared to 14% in the control group.
Zinc supplements should be consumed at most one hour before a meal or 2-3 hours after a meal
According to the NHS, the recommended daily amount of zinc for women is 7 mg and 9.5 mg for men (age 19-64). For children, it's a little different. 1-3 years should consume 5 mg, 4-6 years should have 6.5 mg, 7-10 years should have 7 mg and 11-14 years should have 9 mg.
Zinc supplements should be consumed at most one hour before a meal or 2-3 hours after a meal.
"Although the evidence for the prevention of cold with zinc comes from studies involving only children, there is no biological reason why zinc can only work in children and not in adults," the authors concluded.
- This article was originally published by Healthista