December 9th 2013
Although the weather is near perfect at the moment, winter is well and truly on the way, and the approaching colder weather and darker days provide the perfect platform for nasty bacteria and viruses to spread and multiply – putting everyone at risk from the dreaded Hong Kong flu. The good news is that there are a number of easy ways to protect yourself from becoming sick this winter. In collaboration with our friends at Kwiksure, we bring you our Top Five Tips for Boosting your Immune System.
1. Increase Intake of Vitamins C, D and zinc
The health benefits of Vitamin C are well known, yet many will be unaware of just how important Vitamin D and zinc are to keeping the immune system ticking along nicely. When combined, these vitamins and nutrients are crucial to ensuring your body fights off harmful bacteria. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C include berries, kiwi, orange and dark green vegetables. Zinc, meanwhile, helps the body develop immune-boosting white blood cells and is predominantly found in seafood and red meat. Most people get the majority of their Vitamin D from sunlight, but during the winter months you may want to increase your intake of oily fish such as mackerel and wholegrain foods and cereals.
2. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Staying hydrated in winter helps the digestive system function correctly while also keeping cough and cold symptoms at bay. Many health professionals advise drinking warm water regularly each day, with optional slices of lemon and some honey to help increase vitamin intake. Green tea, another healthy hot drink option, is full of antioxidants and metabolic enhancers.
3. Regular Exercise
Colder weather typically means more people retreat indoors for longer periods, but, ironically, health experts actually say this can increase the risk of catching cold. Your immune system will benefit from moderate exercise two or three times a week during winter, and your body will remain fit and strong. Exercise is also central to maintaining good sleeping patterns, which provide the body with the time needed to rest and recuperate.
4. Adequate Sleep and Rest
A minimum of seven to eight hours sleep each night is required to allow the immune system to tackle colds and other illnesses head on. Those suffering from fatigue or chronic fatigue are more susceptible to illness than those that get enough rest. If seven hours simply isn’t possible at night, taking a short nap or meditating during the day will also help to revitalise the body.
Chronic stress is a known precursor to illness as it sparks chemical reactions in the body that adversely affect the functioning of the immune system. Working long hours and reducing social interaction in winter can also contribute to an increase in tension and anxiety. Taking time out during the workday, such as going for a 10-minute walk in the afternoon, keeping in regular social contact with friends and family, or simply continuing to do the things that you enjoy most will help you remain positive and enhance your resistance to illness.
For more insights on health and Hong Kong life, visit the Kwiksure blog.