It seems to happen every winter. One day, everyone’s fine, and the next, your friends, coworkers and family members drop one by one into the miserable abyss of flu season. Beyond getting a flu shot, and washing your hands often, the best line of defense comes from simple, healthy habits.
Below are some natural ways to support your immune system, and they can feel pretty pleasant to partake in as well….
- Drink lemon, honey, ginger and turmeric with warm water. A 2012 review published in the journal Evidence-Based complementary and Alternative Medicine found that honey, an antioxidant, acts as a natural immunity booster. Ginger, another powerful antioxidant with antiviral properties, can be used to treat digestive woes like nausea and motion sickness. Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, which according to Mayo Clinic can be used for its antioxidant properties to prevent the common cold. Lastly, studies show that curcumin, a component in the spice called turmeric, can regulate the immune system.
- Make a batch of chicken soup. Think that chicken soup is just a comfort food? The dish actually has a mild anti-inflammatory effect, thanks to the vegetables and chicken, according to a University of Nebraska Medical Center study. Ingredients in the soup (when made with chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery, parsley, salt and pepper) have been found to slow the migration of white blood cells into the upper respiratory track, which helps relieve cold symptoms.
- Indulge in tea time. Sipping tea in the morning or right before bed is relaxing. But, it’s not just a pleasant ritual. National Geographic reported that naturally occurring chemicals in tea called alkyl amines strengthen the immune system to help it fight off infection.
- Have yogurt for breakfast. Probiotics found in yogurt can strengthen the body’s immune system and help you fight off infection. Prevention reported that a study found New Zealand athletes who consumed a probiotic had 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections. Yogurt is also rich in vitamin D, which gives your immune system a healthy boost.
- Laugh a little (or a lot). Binge-watching TV all night is not recommended, but a few episodes of your favorite funny show are beneficial. A 2007 study found that laughter really is the best medicine: It can give your immunity a ridiculously easy boost.
- Make workouts a part of your weekly regimen. You don’t have to turn into a full-on fitness fanatic to boost your immune system. Simply going for a daily stroll or sneaking in a yoga class a few times a week will keep you physically fit and help your immune system stay in top shape. Exercise may flush bacteria out of your lungs, reducing your chance of picking up an airborne illness, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It also causes your white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, allowing your immune system to detect illnesses more quickly.