Christmas is a busy and sociable time of the year for many – meeting old friends back home during the holidays, New Years Eve and not to mention the big office blowout. People want to be looking and feeling their best at all the events in their busy social calendar – the problem is it’s also the time of year when you’re most likely to become ill.
With the weather changing to miserable dark days and the combination of late night booze fuelled gatherings, are immune system can take a hammering making it really easy to catch something. There are things you can do to avoid getting ill by giving your immune system a welcome boost in preparation for the weeks ahead.
A study from the states discovered that exercise has the ability to stimulate your immune system and also alters levels of certain hormones, further helping to boost your immunity. Just three 30 minute bouts of exercise a week are all it takes to boost your immune system, with swimming, running or brisk walking all being recommended. Muscle building exercise may also have the same effect, helping to boost your immune system and whilst making you feel good about yourself.
Also if you do find yourself feeling a bit worse than normal, try not to sit about all day feeling sorry for yourself. According to research, gentle exercise can actually help you to speed up the recovery process. If you can’t handle your normal workout, even a brisk walk will help you feel the benefits. If you’re feeling sleepy though, don’t fight it – if your body is telling you it needs rest, listen to it.
Keep a Healthy Weight
It’s true that excess fat creates hormone imbalances within your body, making it difficult for your immune system to function to its full potential. Therefore if you can, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. You should not be trying to drop a load of weight in this period through short term solutions like crash diets or detox diets. When your calorie intake becomes severely restricted, your body becomes stressed and lowers the performance of your immune system; it also means that your body isn’t getting a balanced intake with the essential nutrients needed to keep healthy.
Vitamins, Friendly Bacteria and Chocolate
Normally we get enough vitamin D through exposure to the sun; between October and March however the rays of the sun are too weak, so we need to supplement our vitamin D intake through other means. Oily fish and eggs are an excellent source to keep you topped up and feeling good.
Zinc can also dramatically reduce your risk of catching infections. Meat is a great source of topping up your zinc levels, however you can also find it in oysters, peanuts and dark chocolate – of course this doesn’t mean you can gorge on chocolate over the next couple of weeks!
Probiotic supplements can also help to reduce the length of time an illness affects someone, in some cases, cutting them in half. The daily ‘friendly bacteria’ drinks help to build up your immune system as the majority of the way your immune system works is through your gut, where the probiotic effects take place. In order to benefit though, the bacteria needs to establish itself over a long period of time so it has time to establish itself.
Gareth writes on a number of health and fitness topics on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare who provide health care plans to make sure you stay healthy by giving a helping hand with healthcare costs.