While it’s good to prime our immune systems before the fall of winter in time for the cold and flu season, the reality is we are susceptible to falling ill at any time. Because of this, it’s important to support our immunity all-year-round. Read on to find out how to maintain your resilience and relieve those nasty cold & flu symptoms when they strike.
The immune system is a busy network of organs, cells and chemicals that work tirelessly to protect our bodies from the threat of microbial pathogens we encounter on a daily basis. The immune system is comprised of two critical layers – the innate and adaptive immune system.
The innate immune system is made up of physical barriers, including the skin and mucous membranes, and chemical warriors such antimicrobial proteins, natural killer cells that produce chemicals toxic to foreign microbes, and phagocytes that vacuum them up. On the other hand, adaptive immunity is forged after an infection, whereby the body memorises these microbes and therefore can mount an attack more precisely and vigorously.
In optimal condition, the immune system can neutralise and fight off microbial threats. However, due to chronic stress, low nutrient status or poor lifestyle habits, our immune system can weaken, making it easier for foreign invaders to breach our defenses, resulting in symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and sneezing.
Optimise your immune defences using these science-backed strategies below:
Sleep and immune system function have an inextricable connection. Studies show that people who don’t get enough and good quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus such as the one that causes the common cold. Furthermore, inadequate sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Research reveals that participating in moderate to intense physical activity for 60 minutes or less is optimal for eliciting the immune-supporting benefits of exercise. Exercise improves our resistance to illness by promoting the circulation of immune cells and improving the quality of our sleep. Try swimming, powerwalking or weight training, but most importantly, something that you enjoy doing!
Avoid refined sugar
Sugar is an immune suppressant with studies showing intake of sugar reduces the capacity of immune cells to function properly,. Minimise your sugar consumption by swapping foods containing added sugars like breakfast cereals, tinned fruit and snack bars with wholefood alternatives like wholegrain cereals such as porridge, fresh fruit and a nutty trail mix respectively.
Relieve symptoms with herbs
Formulated with herbs such as Andrographis and Elderberry that have a long history of traditional use for supporting immune system health, you may want to consider Herbs of Gold Cold & Flu Strike. Renowned as the ‘King of bitters’, Andrographis helps decrease the severity of symptoms of common colds and flu whilst also reducing common cold duration. Similarly, the blackcurrant-looking Elderberry is traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to relieve cough, sore throat and mild fever.
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