Sickness was inevitable. At work people were coughing and spluttering, and at home my sons were battling gastro. It seemed an impossible feat to shield myself from the germs floating around, particularly as I catch a crowded train to work that often sounds like a doctor’s waiting room. I had planned to give my immune system a boost but stupidly, I was too busy for that. Regretfully, I paid the price of the double whammy: flu and gastro. I plan on never doing that again, ever. From this day forward I promise to look after my immune system by following the three golden keys.
1. A strong immune system: Nutrition
According Stephen Eddey, director of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society (ATMS] the most powerful nutritional supplements to boost immunity are zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, a high-quality multivitamin, plus the herbs astragalus and Echinacea. “However, it’s important to understand that Echinacea should be taken only when you are sick, not as a preventative measure,” Eddey points out. “Astragalus is used as a preventive – but if you get sick you must stop taking this herb.” Of course, these nutrients must be supplemental to a healthy diet loaded with vegetables and fruit.
2. A strong immune system: Hygiene
Eddey also stresses that basic hygiene protocols such as hand washing also need to be followed to ensure a strong immune system. The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours and can spread through hand contact. In a study by Harvard University, in homes with hand sanitisers, the risk of catching a gastrointestinal illness from a sick child dropped 60 percent compared with the control families. Washing hands with soap and water for 15-20 seconds is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, but sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs.
3. A strong immune system: Sleep
Science backs up the old wives’ tale that lack of sleep makes you more prone to getting sick. Research from the University of Texas shows that our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived and our inflammatory cytokines go up, which both lead to suppressed immune system function. Good sleep habits involve having a restful sleeping environment, having a regular bedtime and getting enough sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed.