5 ways to boost your immune system for winter

5 ways to boost your immune system for winter

Guides & Advice

Photos HBO

Words Vadim Poulet

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You can beat the icy cold. Here’s how.

"Winter is coming", and with it comes the attack of the common cold. It's difficult, if not impossible, to escape. Whether it's a sick colleague who insists on dragging themselves to the office, or just commuting on public transport, we’re so exposed to microbes and bacteria that the question of prevention is inevitable. There's no miracle cure out there, but there are ways of protecting ourselves. Here are a few.

 

Sleep better

Sleep is your most important ally in strengthening your immune system. Deep sleep is your body’s recovery phase, when hormones are produced to combat attacks as soon as you wake up. Without (at least) 6 hours' sleep, the risk of infection doubles, and this increases until you get 7 to 9 hours' sleep a night. Of course, life’s unexpected events may mean that you neglect this rule for a night or two, but, as with national finances, don't ignore the accumulating debt. There’s always a risk that the interest on this sleep will make you regret your lack of investment. On the other hand, between 7 and 9 hours' sleep is good for your creativity, concentration, reflexes and, of course, your immune system. So there you have it: sleep is the best way to strengthen your defenses and stay healthy.

 

Hydration, our favorite remedy

In summer and winter alike, it's essential to keep well hydrated. Dehydration is one of the triggers of a weak immune system. So drinking water is one of the best ways to fight viruses. Alternatively, you could go for green tea, which has the advantage of warmth, antioxidants and caffeine, without the disadvantages of coffee. Or to make it interesting, try water with added electrolytes, normally the preserve of pro sportsmen and women.

On the other hand, forget alcohol. Contrary to a widespread urban legend, alcohol doesn't warm you up when it's cold, it lowers your body temperature and increases the risk of illness. What's more, alcohol has a negative effect on your sleep. You might fall asleep faster after a few drinks, but your sleep is of poorer quality because alcohol limits the duration of deep sleep, which is essential for your recovery.

 

Protect yourself

Wash your hands regularly, and once they’re clean, use hand cream to rehydrate them: they’re the part of your body that’s most exposed to the cold (especially as gloves are made to be lost). Exercising caution with your smartphone is also a good idea. We use it after shaking hands with strangers, on public transport, in the bathroom, and everywhere else before we put it onto the sides of our faces. If you have antibacterial wipes, your phone should be your priority.

Another top tip: don't hesitate to get vaccinated. It shouldn't need saying after the last few years, but the flu vaccine is one of your best decisions of the season - along with buying a Shetland jumper. Flu is ten times worse than the common cold, not least because of the fever, and the side effects of the vaccine are minimal.

Finally, if you feel cold, take the necessary measures. Cold feet are a sign that your internal organs are concentrating blood flow where it’s needed most. If there's less blood flowing to your extremities, there's less flowing to your nose and throat, which reduces your immune protection in the key areas for virus transmission. Wear socks when it's cold at home and a scarf when you're out. You'll also look much more elegant!

 

Look after your body

Staying in good physical condition will help you resist illness and get back into shape more quickly if you do fall ill. Don't wait until winter to start, of course, as regular sportsmen and women enjoy the greatest benefits. Keeping fit helps your body to create cytokines, the cells that fight the disease in the first place. This happens almost as soon as you start to put in a bit of effort. When the first viral attacks occur, these cells are legendary defenders.

But don't overdo it. If you subject your body to too much stress when you fall ill, the hormones it creates, glucocorticoids, risk damaging your immune protection. So reduce the intensity of your sporting activities when you're feeling a bit under the weather, and simply forget them entirely if you have a fever: rest is the best medicine.

The best way to deal with viruses and bacteria is to be yourself: relax, by watching or doing sport and by hanging out with your friends - not in the pub, of course. Any activity that reduces your stress is good. So fight colds by relaxing, with a clay mask on your face, to help you keep a healthy mind in a healthy body.

 

For your winter showers:

Virginia Cedar & Sage Leaf Virginia Cedar & Sage Leaf 500ml
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Italian Bergamot & Peppermint Italian Bergamot & Peppermint 500ml
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