Getting colds and illnesses can put you in bed for several days, which could mean missing out on important occasions and events, having to skip a week of work, and experiencing plenty of disruption in your life. Apart from that, you’ll feel awful and will spend days wondering when you’re going to feel better and what you can do to help yourself recover. Unfortunately, once you’ve caught an illness, getting rid of it is a lot harder than preventing it in the first place.
A lot of people run out to get a flu shot every year to prevent themselves from getting sick, but sometimes it’s not effective, and it may even be dangerous. The best way to not get sick is to boost your immune system to keep yourself healthy and fit. Here are five ways you can do this naturally, and you don’t even have to visit your doctor.
Eat Your Vegetables
Vegetables and herbs such as broccoli, carrots, and garlic are great at improving your overall health, thus boosting your immune system to help prevent illnesses from taking hold. If you feel like you are about to develop a cold or flu, improving your diet can help keep it at bay.
And if you can’t stand the thought of eating whole cloves of garlic, you can always start taking a garlic supplement. Garlic supplements are great for your heart, but they’re also great for your sinuses. I started supplementing with garlic and found out that it was just as effective as Mucinex for thinning out the mucus that always plagues me. Be aware, however, that garlic may exacerbate stomach issues like acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome. I found this out the hard way!
Get More Vitamin C
You can get vitamin C from oranges, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. Have a glass of pure orange juice at the beginning of the day if you struggle to eat fruits and vegetables. Another way to get this vital vitamin is by taking daily supplements.
My favorite way to get more C is to drink 4-6 ounce glass of Emergen-C every day. In addition to vitamin C, Emergen-C has loads of B vitamins, which are great for increasing your energy (something I find I’m in desperate need of these days). My favorite flavor is the Super Orange, but the Cranberry-Pomegranate sounds delicious too. I might have to try that one next!
Don’t Forget the Vitamin D
In addition to getting enough vitamin C to help your immune system along, you should also get plenty of vitamin D. While it’s not always possible to get this from the sun, you can find it in foods such as cheese, egg yolks, and meats like beef liver and fish.
If you can’t get out into the sun (like in the winter, when there’s not much available), you might want to consider buying a light therapy lamp. It will help give you the vitamin D boost you need to keep you going strong all winter long, and it will help keep you from suffering from seasonal affective disorder (also appropriately known as SAD).
Quit Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
If you smoke regularly, cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke. The moment you stop drinking, your immune system takes back some of the healing power it lost from the high levels of tar and other chemicals you’re putting into your body with each cigarette.
The same goes for drinking – limit the amount of alcohol you consume to a few drinks per week. Changes in liver function resulting from excessive chronic drinking can make your body’s immune system turn against your own tissues.
You don’t have to cut either out of your diet completely (although that’s totally advisable – especially the smoking), but it’s important to recognize that these activities will have both short- and long-term negative effects on your health.
If you’re as busy as I am, this can be one of the most difficult things to incorporate into your lifestyle. However, regular exercise can really help to boost your immune system. And the additional beneficial effects of exercise, including better heart health and a healthier weight, will improve the way you feel overall.
And you might not be as busy as you think. Check out this article for some relatively easy ways to make time for more exercise.
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