5 simple ways to boost your immune system this autumn

As the days start to get colder, it becomes much easier for coughs and colds to spread, even if we try our hardest to avoid them. The coronavirus pandemic has made many people more conscious about their hygiene, but despite the increased use of face masks and hand sanitiser, it isn’t always enough.

According to a recent report by Public Health England, published in the Guardian, there has been a spike in cold infections, partly due to people’s weakened immune systems after 18 months of social distancing.

If you want to help your body ward off illness, there are a few things that you can do to help. Here are five simple ways to boost your immune system this autumn.

1. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet

As you may know, having a balanced diet can be an essential part of maintaining a healthy immune system throughout the colder months. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients that your body needs to effectively fight off infections.

Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are all rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help to boost your wellbeing. It’s also important to ensure that you get enough Vitamin C, as this is essential for a healthy immune system.

Probiotic foods, such as yoghurts, usually contain beneficial bacteria which can help to keep your digestive system healthy. This can help to prevent bacteria and viruses entering your body.

It can also be important to ensure you’re getting enough healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and fish, to make sure your body can fight off pathogens effectively.

2. Use supplements in moderation

While we’re talking about proper nutrition, it’s worth mentioning the use of health supplements, such as Vitamin C pills and cod liver oil tablets.

Of course, while these are no replacement for a healthy and balanced diet, using them in moderation can help to boost your immune system if you’re lacking any important vitamins or minerals.

One of the most important nutrients for warding off disease is Vitamin C. As you probably know, this plays a major role in the healthy functioning of the immune system.

You may also want to consider Vitamin D supplements, as these can help to support the growth of new immune cells to help your body fight off pathogens. The body produces this vitamin through exposure to sunlight, meaning that many people become deficient in it during the shorter days of autumn and winter.

3. Try to exercise regularly

Another important way that you can support your immune system is by making sure that you’re getting regular exercise. This is because it can boost your cardiovascular health, lower your blood pressure, and control your weight.

The combination of these three factors help to facilitate a healthy and functioning immune system. Exercising regular also helps to promote the growth of new immune cells, making sure that your body is always reading to fight off germs.

According to the NHS, all adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to stay healthy. This can involve anything from hiking to biking, or even just taking a brisk walk to work each morning.

4. Make sure that you get enough sleep

As surprising as it sounds, one factor that can noticeably affect your immune system is how much sleep you get. That’s why, if you want to be able to fight off coughs and colds this autumn, you need to ensure that you get enough rest.

While aiming for the full seven or eight hours each night is a good start, you may always want to consider the quality of your sleep too. If you want to boost this, here are three simple ways to practice good “sleep hygiene”:

  • Try to fall asleep at the same time each night
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption in the afternoon and evening
  • Avoid using electronic screens, such as a mobile phone or tablet, before bed.

5. Limit your exposure to stress

As you’re probably aware, too much stress can impact your mental wellbeing, but you may not know that it can also affect your physical health. Persistently high levels of stress can actually lower the number of white blood cells in your body, making it harder to fight off germs.

Furthermore, stress can also impact your body by hindering its ability to properly digest food. This means that you don’t get enough of the essential vitamins and minerals in your diet that allow your immune system to prevent infections.

While it is obviously more easily said than done, reducing the level of stress in your life can be a good way to ensure your immune system is able to combat bacteria and viruses when you need it to. One simple way to lower your stress levels can be with relaxation exercises, such as yoga or deep breathing.