A guide on how to boost our immune systems in the upcoming cold weather
As we hit another cold snap, let’s talk about how the cold affects our immunity and what we can do to improve it in these winter months.
From when we were young, we were told that going out in the rain will cause a nasty cold! Although, I will avoid being outside in the rain for comfort reasons, no scientific evidence has proven that exposure to cold temperatures really do lead to a drop in our immunity and make us more prone to nasty colds. Most evidence actually shows that exposing you body to rain and cold weather really has no connotation to illness at all!
So why do I always catch a cold in winter do you ask?
It looks like there are various factors that play a role. People often stay indoors in cold weather and are therefore more exposed to each other and each other’s infections. Viruses also seem to flourish in colder, wetter climates.
As one ages, your immunity does tend to weaken. This is why you are more sensitive to infections and tend to get more severe infections. For this reason, doing anything you can to boost your immune system in your senior years is of utmost importance.
So which herbal and “immune boosting” remedies should you buy? Walk into any health shop or pharmacy, listen to the radio, watch TV and you are bombarded with products that promise to give you that boost you need! The evidence that these products do in fact directly boost your immunity is very few and far between. Although, it does look like there is certainly a relationship between diet and immunity. A depletion in micronutrients such as Zinc, Vitamin B, C, D and Iron are specifically associated with a fall in one’s immunity.
My advice is to eat a balanced diet. Have all the colours on your plate! Of course, as you age a loss of appetite and taste is normal. This most certainly can affect one’s motivation to eat all the colours on your plate. If you are worried that your meals are not filled with all those powerful nutrients, speak to your doctor about starting a good quality multivitamin daily.
Ask for the annual flu vaccination and speak to your doctor about other vaccinations that are available.
Remember that adequate, good quality sleep is a potent immune booster. And don’t forget to work on those stress levels and keep a positive mind!
Although it is hard to exercise in cold weather and lockdown, become creative with frequent exercises in your room. Basic muscle stretches and making sure you “move often” is a great way to get that blood pumping.
Keep safe and keep warm.
Dr Sonia Hough