Winter has arrived and it has brought with it the usual and dreaded cold! And while there are simple actions like washing your hands that can help prevent the transmission of the virus, our immune system is our most effective defense barrier against pathogens and we need to pamper it. Here are some tips to prepare your body for the cold season, practice prevention and boost your immunity :
How to protect yourself against colds?
Eat immune-boosting foods
Food is the main instrument we have at our disposal to strengthen the “natural defenses”, that is to say the immune system . There are certain foods which, due to their composition, are capable of stimulating immune mechanisms and should become your partners as soon as the first symptoms appear. Stock up on these therapeutic foods and you'll be able to stave off colds and flu the natural way. Here is a little preview :
- Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C: citrus fruits, kiwi, fennel bulb, strawberries, mango and watercress
- Foods rich in zinc , essential for the formation and proper functioning of immune cells: shellfish are the main source, but the most accessible on a daily basis are oilseeds (seeds and nuts)
- Foods rich in fermentable fiber which strengthen beneficial bacteria in the intestine: garlic, onions, asparagus, artichokes, leeks, mushrooms and legumes mainly. Many of these bacteria are essential for the functioning of the immune system and help prevent colds.
Adopt Ayurvedic nasal hygiene (or Jala Neti )
The nose allows us to filter the air we breathe and is our first protective barrier against colds. But to be effective, the nostrils must be clean. Jala Neti is a nose cleansing technique used by Indian yogis for millennia to clean the nasal passages effectively, quickly, simply and painlessly, which consists of passing a saline solution of warm water into a nostril, so that it comes out through the other, carrying away all the impurities and bacteria. To put it into practice, we use a special container, called a lota , which can have different shapes and sizes. It can be made of plastic, ceramic, stainless steel or any other material that does not contaminate the water. Its spout fits perfectly into the hollow of the nose to prevent water from flowing through the same pit. You can also another safe solution to clean your nose, take a tissue to clear your nostrils and then use a physiological serum which will free them of any impurities.
Staying active and maintaining a regular exercise routine helps oxygenate your body and help flush out toxins to keep inflammation and chronic illnesses at bay, and thus maintain good health. Exercise also reduces the release of stress- related hormones and speeds up the circulation of white blood cells, which help the body fight disease-causing viruses and bacteria.
Learn to manage your emotions and get enough rest
Stress and anxiety disorders can contribute to weakening our immune system , lowering defenses and making the body more fragile in the face of external attacks. It is therefore important to rest, relax and sleep between seven and eight hours, since our body releases cytokines during long periods of sleep . Cytokines are a type of protein that help the body fight infections by regulating the immune system .
All this information must be adapted according to your pace of life. These are precautions that will allow adults and children to prepare their bodies for the arrival of cold weather and the cold virus that follows it.
- Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995
- Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414701
- Exercise, Inflammation, and Innate Immunity: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24355072_Exercise_Inflammation_and_Innate_Immunity
- Effect of vitamin C on common cold: randomized controlled trial: https://www.nature.com/articles/1602261