As well as digging out your woollies, the other think that marks the change in seasons are the hordes of people sniffling and sneezing in your train carriage, on the street and in your office.

Most of us will have a cold this autumn or winter, and some of us will have the flu. They are caused by viruses. Colds and flu are both passed on from person to person, usually through coughing and sneezing. A healthy lifestyle can give your immune system a boost and leave you less susceptible to illness.

In many ways, your immune system is the most awesome system in your body, easily rivaling your brain in terms of complexity, subtlety, and “self-awareness.” Since the purpose of the body’s immune system is to defend against attack and help initiate repair, the better it does it, the healthier we are.

Your lifestyle can affect how well your immune system can protect you from germs, viruses, and chronic illness. Replacing bad health habits with good ones can help keep your immune system healthy.

Immune System Busters & Boosters

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You may have noticed you’re more likely to catch a cold or other infection when you’re not getting enough sleep. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how sleep boosts the immune system, it’s clear that getting enough – usually 7 to 9 hours for an adult – is key for good health.

Exercise

Try to get regular, moderate exercise, like a daily 30-minute walk. It can help your immune system fight infection.

Avoid Stress

Everyone has some stress; it’s part of life. If stress drags on for a long time, it makes you more vulnerable to illness, from colds to serious diseases. You may not be able to get rid of your stress, but you can get better at managing it. Learn to meditate, slow down, connect with other people.

Sense of humor

Laughing is good for you. It curbs the levels of stress hormones in your body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection.

Food that fight illness

Feeding your body certain foods may help to keep your immune system running strong. Plan your meals to include the following powerful immune system boosters.

Citrus fruitsCitrus fruit

 

Most people turn to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. But did you know it tops the chart of foods that keep your immune system running at 100 percent? Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.

Broccoli

Broccoli is supercharged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all!

Garlic

stazeny-souborGarlic is found in almost every cuisine around the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value for fighting infections. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, garlic may also help in lowering blood pressure and slowing down hardening of the arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

 

Ginger

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after they’ve caught a cold. However, like vitamin C, ginger may also help prevent that cold from taking hold in the first place. While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Capsaicin gives chili peppers their distinctive heat. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal studies.

Yogurtbowl and spoon with joghurt

When selecting yogurt, look for ones that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with vitamin D.

Almonds

home-almondsWhen it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to the more commonly mentioned vitamin C. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, especially almonds, are packed with it. A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.