Follow these steps and you’ll give your body the best chance it has of avoiding viruses and combating sickness. The first 5 are most important and relate to good ol’ healthy living. If you aren’t sticking to these, a pill or supplement isn’t going to do you much good.
- Get to Bed
The crux is short and sweet: your body needs enough sleep to fight off infectious diseases. Without it, you increase your odds of getting sick and you delay your recovery process. Most adults need between 7 to 8 hours of good sleep a night, while children may need 10 or more .
- Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
A strong immune system relies on a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat. If you think your diet does not provide you with all your micronutrient needs, you can take a daily multivitamin. Think of it as an immunity insurance policy .
- Wash Your Hands
This seems incredibly obvious but it remains one of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid illness. Just 30 seconds of washing hands with soap and water reduced the bacterial count on health care workers’ hands by 58%. Alcohol-based hand rubs are even more effective - they can reduce counts by as much as 83% .
- Take a Chill Pill
Stress, especially chronic stress, alters features of the immune response and can disrupt communication between your nervous system, endocrine (hormonal) system, and immune system . Regular exercise and mindful meditation have both been proven to reduce your stress and boost your overall health .
- Stop Smoking
Although it can make you feel relaxed temporarily, smoking is actually much worse for your stress levels in the long term . Smoke can also temporarily paralyze your body’s ability to flush viruses out of your nasal passages. These are just two of a host of reasons to avoid smoking.
- Take Supplements
There are a plethora of remedies and supplements that claim to boost your immune system or prevent the common cold. So far, there is very little evidence that many these supplements help your immunity in a definitive way. The following four are at least somewhat supported by scientific studies.
- Fish Oil - Fish oil’s immunity powers come from an omega-3 fatty acid compound called DHA. Fish oil high in DHA boosted activity of B cells, white blood cells essential to the body’s immune system .
- Garlic - People who had garlic regularly were less likely to get a cold and recovered faster when they were infected. The secret lies in the antioxidant-rich compound called allicin that helps defend garlic against attack by pests .
- Echinacea - Echinacea is possibly effective for reducing the symptoms of the common cold if taken when cold symptoms are first noticed .
- Zinc - Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of your immune system and there is no question that a zinc deficiency can have health consequences. However, there is currently no consensus on whether taking extra zinc can help get rid of your cold faster. The studies that do show positive effects suggest taking zinc in lozenge form and within the first 24 hours of cold symptoms .