The cold and flu season is almost here. During the latter part of the year, millions of Americans succumb to cold and flu infections. They are among the most common types of infectious illnesses. And while there's no way to completely avoid either of these viral infections, you can lower your risk of catching the cold and flu by boosting your immune system. With a stronger immune system, your body will have the antibodies needed to defend against these infection-causing viruses. So, what steps can you take to strengthen your immune system during the cold and flu season?
Exercising has been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system. People who exercise generally have stronger immune systems than their counterparts who rarely or never exercise. Unfortunately, statistics show only about one-third of Americans meet the exercise recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making them vulnerable to cold and flu infections.
#2) Cut Back on Sugar
There's nothing wrong with treating yourself to an occasional sugary snack or beverage, but processed sugar shouldn't account for the bulk of your daily caloric intake. Processed sugar, while an excellent source of energy, suppresses the immune system. To lower your risk of catching the cold and flu, limit your consumption of processed sugar to no more than 37.5 grams if you're a man or 25 grams if you're a woman.
#3) Get Some Sun
How much time do you spend outdoors during the cold and flu season? Because the cold and flu season occurs during the winter, you'll probably spend most of your time indoors during this time of year. As a result, you may unknowingly suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which can suppress your immune system while subsequently increasing your risk of catching the cold and flu. By spending more time outdoors, on the other hand, you'll promote a stronger immune system that's better able to defend against these viral infections.
#4) Wash Hands
Don't underestimate the importance of washing your hands during the cold and flu season. The CDC says handwashing is one of the most important things people can do to lower their risk of catching these otherwise common viral infections.
#5) Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep plays a critical role in the function of your body's immune system. If you don't get enough sleep, or if you get low-quality restless sleep, your immune system will weaken, thereby increasing your risk of infectious illness.