Easy ways to boost your immunity
Posted on 2 June 2017
From immune-boosting foods to preventative medicine and exercise, we speak to a GP specialising in family health and look at four easy ways to keep bugs at bay this winter.
With winter on its way, cases of colds and flu are on the up. And while a drop in temperature can often go hand in hand with decreased immunity, it doesn’t have to be that way, says Dr Carike Camphor, a general practitioner specialising in family medicine in Nelspruit.
‘It’s that time of the year when people start suffering from minor illnesses owing to the elements,’ says Dr Camphor. ‘Patients book appointments for what they think might be symptoms of more serious illness, but are in fact common colds. But this sort of ailment can be remedied – and even prevented – at home. A small amount of self-maintenance and care can go a long way in preventing the dreaded winter ills.’
A common cold usually starts a few days before any distinct symptoms are experienced. Slight fatigue gives way to a runny nose and/or a sore throat, and this feeling of stuffiness can eventually lead to a bad cough lasting anywhere up to a week or more. While these symptoms are fairly obvious, various preventative measures are often neglected in our fast-paced daily lives.
Prevention is better than cure
‘It pays dividends to plan ahead,’ says Dr Camphor. ‘With our winter season generally starting in June, I recommend putting immune boosting measures in place ahead of time. Our vital energy starts getting depleted towards the end of summer, so thinking ahead and boosting the immune system sooner can make winter a healthier and more enjoyable time.’
Dr Camphor recommends the following preventative maintenance for a largely sickness-free winter:
Supplementation: ‘Increased vitamin C intake is advisable. Although I recommend obtaining optimal vitamin and mineral levels through a healthy and balanced diet, supplementing with antioxidants like vitamin C is a good idea leading into winter. A daily dosage of 1000mg is more than enough to boost immunity and maintain health.’
Hydrate: ‘Keep an eye on dehydration. We tend to favour warm drinks like tea or coffee in winter and often neglect our water intake, which is critical for immune health.’
Influenza shot: ‘I recommend going for a flu vaccination before the onset of winter.’
Keep moving: ‘Staying active through winter is also important. Don’t let shorter days lead to hibernation. Continued movement maintains fitness, which in turn enhances general health.’