Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
It’s the season of sweaters and overcoats again. You must already be stocking your cupboards with hot chocolate, soups, medicines and tissues. Amongst all the good things winter brings, unfortunately, it also brings viral infections and common cold or fever. Since your immunity takes a hit during winters, you become more susceptible to catching an infection. But instead of hoping to not fall sick and relying on medicines, you may follow these 5 ways to improve immunity this winter season and see the benefits for yourself.
Why are colds so common during winters?
Our immune system does an amazing job of dealing with germs that live in us and on us. It identifies and can differentiate between the harmless and harmful ones and knows how to keep us safe from them. However, cold and flu viruses evolve very quickly. There are more than 200 of them and they all keep evolving. So, if your system develops immunity to one virus it might still not identify the virus next time when it comes in a different form. Thus, to not come down with the cold, you not only need to wear proper winter clothes, but you need to prepare your immune system for the war.
Ways to improve immunity
Don’t skip your breakfast
Getting up early in the morning for breakfast seems not-so-important when you can have a little extra sleep and an early lunch. But this not-so-important task is very important for your body. What happens is, when you sleep, you technically fast all night and break that fast in the morning by having breakfast. And by missing that you put a strain on your body which reduces the immunity. Thus, make sure that you have healthy and filling breakfast in the morning. You can have fresh fruits, boiled eggs, poha, parathas, sandwiches or cheela.
What you eat throughout the year controls how your body will function under different conditions. If your diet lacks important nutrients then you might have a hard time in winter. So, make sure that you have plenty of these winter foods that will also help you have a healthy gut.
- Citrus fruits – Vitamin C plays an important role in preventing infections. And citrus fruits like orange, lime, lemon and grapefruit are loaded with it. As your body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, it is necessary that you intake food rich in Vitamin C to fulfill your body’s needs.
- Bell peppers – Bell peppers too are rich in vitamin C which fights infections and boost immunity. Along with that, your eyes and skin will also benefit from vitamin C.
- Mushrooms – Your delicious mushrooms are loaded with selenium, niacin, riboflavin and Vitamin D. This immunity-boosting capability of mushrooms is enough reason to never say no to them.
- Garlic – Garlic is not just a flavor enhancer. It has sulfur-containing compounds like allicin which can improve your immunity. Garlic can also benefit those suffering from high blood pressure and poor digestive function.
- Ginger – Your grandmom must have made adrak wali chai for you when the flu hit you. The gingerols and shaogals in the ginger root kill the cold-causing viruses. So, have more of ginger during winters as it can also prevent cold in the first place.
- Green vegetables – All the dark leafy vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamin C all of which are only going to keep you safe in winters. Love them as much as you love Popeye who loved spinach.
We totally understand that you don’t feel like drinking much water in this cold weather. But staying hydrated during winters is as important as it is during summers. Water flushes the toxins out of the body and can also improve blood circulation. Thus, to not get dehydrated and to improve your immunity drink loads of water during winters as well. To enhance the taste of it, add a slice of lime or apple or any fruit that you like and make your own flavored water.
When you get some shut-eye your body starts repairing and renewing its cells. That is why people who don’t get enough sleep catch a cold easily. So, make sure that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Also, work on the quality of sleep you get. Sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine before your bedtime and having a quiet and dark room to sleep in can be helpful.
Cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for 24 hours. Just one sick person can spread those viruses to everyone around. Thus, maintaining hygiene is of utmost importance. Thoroughly clean doorknobs, switches and every such place that almost everyone touches. Make sure that you also clean your tech devices like laptops and mobile phones as well. Basic hygiene rules like using a tissue while sneezing or coughing, washing hands frequently, not touching eyes and mouth with dirty hands should be strictly followed.
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