A summer cold is arguably one of the most frustrating things to deal with. Instead of enjoying your time outside in the warm weather or near the pool, you’ll be sniffling, sneezing and coughing while curled up inside.
If you feel the starting signs of a dreadful summer cold, or if you want to take every measure possible to prevent one before your upcoming vacation, you can attempt to stop the sickness by protecting your immune system. Stress, poor diet and unhealthy lifestyles can do a number on your immunity, lowering its defenses enough to let germs take over.
The main way to keep your immune system at peak performance is to focus on overall health. Here are a few specific things you can do to give your immune system the extra “oomf” it needs to kick that summer cold to the curb.
1. Rest and relax
Sleep is when your body recharges and prepares you for the coming days. Not getting enough rest can take a toll on the health of your immune system. Additionally, enduring long periods of high stress can make you more likely to get sick. When you are stressed, your body produces high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can suppress the immune system over time. Sleep can help you manage stress, as well.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet
The foods you put into your body play a major role in its functionality. It’s very important that you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet so your body gets all of the vitamins and minerals it needs to work how it should. Complex carbs, lean proteins, fruits and veggies and healthy fats are all necessary to give your body what it desperately craves, especially when it’s beginning to fight off a bug.
If you’re not able to get some of the important nutrients in your everyday diet, consider taking a multivitamin that will give you the extra things you may be lacking.
Water is also a key element to your nutrition. Make sure to drink lots of water to keep your mucous membranes moist and your immune system ready to go.
3. Take extra vitamin C
As a known antioxidant, vitamin C plays an important role in protecting your immune system from deficiencies. In particular, getting lots of vitamin C can help prevent your potential cold from turning into something worse.
Unfortunately, our diets tend to lack enough vitamin C. Most people will need to take a supplement in order to bring their daily dose up to recommended amounts.
4. Focus on your gut
Between 70% and 80% of your immune system lives in your digestive system. Because of this, the health of your gut makes a huge impact on how well your immune system functions when fighting off the common cold or flu. In order to make sure it’s in peak condition, focus on eating foods that are known to emphasize gut health.
Taking probiotics or eating high-probiotic foods can help re-introduce healthy bacteria into your gut, which may be lacking after taking antibiotics, eating a poor diet or high stress. Once the bacteria are there, you’ll want to eat other types of foods that help the good bacteria thrive. This means cutting back on the simple sugars and focusing on whole grains and leafy greens.
5. Avoid smoking and drinking
Smoking is bad for your health in general, but the smoke also does a number on your immune system. The smoke and other chemicals in cigarettes undermine basic defenses, making you less effective at fighting off germs.
Additionally, drinking alcohol can weaken your immune system. A glass of wine here and there won’t make you suddenly ill, but excessive drinking can lower the effectiveness of your immunity.
6. Take immune-protecting supplements
There are many natural supplements and medicinal tonics on the market that utilize herbs to protect your immune system. Yin Chiao, a traditional Chinese medicinal formula, is effective at protecting immunity and treating common cold symptoms like coughing, sneezing and congestion.
Asian ginseng and American ginseng are believed to shield the body from stress while also protecting immunity, two things that put up extra defenses from summer colds.
Studies have shown that people who work out regularly tend to suffer from fewer colds. Routine exercise is great for your body and can help strengthen your defenses. People who work out more tend to eat healthier, fueling their bodies with lots of nutrients, which can aid in immunity, as well.
In general, your summer-cold-fighting regimen should include healthy habits that will not only prevent you from getting sick, but also help you feel great year-round. Of course, protecting your immune system will also go hand-in-hand with sickness prevention, such as cleaning your home, staying away from sick people and washing your hands.