By Tarryn McGuire
The harsh Galway winter is approaching, and with cold and flu symptoms becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s important to maintain a strong and balanced immune system. The thought of sitting in a crowded lecture hall on a cold November morning surrounded by sniffling, sneezing, coughing students sends shivers down my spine. My immune system is as bad as they come, so towards the winter months I like to put some thought into what I do and eat in order to boost it up a little bit. I’m going to share with you five easy ways to boost your immune system before it’s too late.
Diet is everything
The perfect balance of vitamins and minerals is ideal, obviously, but we as students aren’t going to calculate our vitamin and mineral intake. The most important vitamin you should be worrying about around this time of year is vitamin C. Whether you decide to invest in some vitamin C tablets (these are usually very cheap, and I would definitely recommend), or aim to increase your intake of dark, green leafy veg such as spinach and kale, you should be boosting your vitamin C levels pronto. According to Science Daily, foods rich in zinc, such as lean meats, poultry and baked beans, can balance the immune response and control inflammation in your body.
Get plenty of sleep
A strong immune system is one that has the ability to repair and restore itself effectively while the body rests. If your body isn’t fully rested, it will struggle to defend itself against infection. To help boost your immunity and help the body defend itself, aim to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep at night. If you begin to feel a bit run down or tired throughout the day, go ahead and take a power nap, no one will judge.
Wash your hands
Whether you give your hands a thorough scrub with soap and hot water every few hours or you carry around some on-the-go hand sanitiser, make sure to keep your hands free of bacteria. You should also make a conscious effort to touch your face less, yes it sounds strange, but germs can easily get into the body through your nose, ears, mouth, so don’t give them the opportunity.
Chronic stress and depression can weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to illness. Don’t let the Christmas exams get you down, try to balance study and fun this winter. Whether you de-stress by hanging out with friends, taking long walks, meditating or reading, whatever it is, make the time to enjoy life and have fun.
Even if you have to set yourself little reminders, try to be aware of how much liquid you are consuming. Water helps in the production of lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. Drink your body weight in tea, water, juice, whatever you fancy, as long as you are staying hydrated.