Teachers: Tips to Boost Your Immune System This Cold & Flu Season
Sneezes, sniffles, and coughs, OH MY! The classroom can be a scary place during cold and flu season — but it doesn’t have to be. The truth is, your immune system is as strong as you make it. And, armed with the right information and the willingness to focus on boosting your body’s infection-fighting abilities, you’ll be much more ready to fend off those germs.
Commit to these key immune-boosting methods and wave goodbye to those miserable days of crumpled tissues and cough drop wrappers.
Like the rest of the body, the immune system is nourished by the stomach. A varied, healthy diet is important in building immune strength. In particular, it is important to include foods rich in certain vitamins and nutrients.
Vitamins A, B-6, C, D, E, and zinc boost the immune system and natural intake through foods is the best way to get them. Be sure your meals include a variety of foods to provide the best nutrients for your immune health. Eating the right foods in small and frequent meals throughout the day can also ensure proper calories, proteins, and nutrients to stay energized and ready to fight off those nasty germs.
Include foods such as:
- Garlic. Fresh garlic can ward off more than vampires. It also helps fight off viruses and bacteria by stimulating cells that help the immune system communicate and function. Raw is best — so try adding it to meals just before serving or in salads and salad dressing.
- Colorful fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their color and flavor but also support the immune system, create healthy cells, and destroy damaged cells. Add immune strength with a rainbow of colors on your plate.
- Mushrooms. Support your immune system with these “fun guys.” Some varieties, like shiitake, are true powerhouses when it comes to enhancing immune function and helping to destroy viruses before they can take hold.
- Blueberries. With a whopping dose of antioxidants, these sweet gems also contain flavonoids, which have been shown to have potent antiviral properties able to stop the replication of and reduce the virus — especially in the respiratory tract.
- Poultry. Chicken soup can help even before you get sick. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, are high in vitamin B-6 and protein. B-6 aids in forming new and healthy red blood cells and protein is used to build and repair tissue. Protein also makes hormones and enzymes promoting the daily functions of the body.
- Tea. Black and green tea can do more than help you relax or stay cozy and warm. Both black and green teas are packed with flavonoids. Drinking black tea can increase T-cells to fight viruses and stop their replication and green tea contains immune-boosting theanine.
- Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are full of vitamin C, which increases the production of white blood cells, important in fighting infection. A daily source of vitamin C is important to continued health as the body doesn’t produce or store it. Find a way to squeeze these vitamin-packed fruits into your daily meals. Not a fan of citrus? Plenty of veggies are packed with vitamin C as well — think red bell peppers, broccoli, and kale.
- Yogurt. Live and active cultures found in yogurts stimulate your immune system and help to fight disease. Select brands fortified with vitamin D and labeled “live and active cultures.” Also, aim for the Greek variety as it tends to be more protein-packed. Avoid the pre-flavored, sweetened kinds as they are loaded with sugar — sweeten your yogurt with healthy fruits or honey instead.
But overall immune health isn’t just about eating right. It’s also about treating your body well. Develop the routines your body needs to keep your immune system working at its fullest potential.
Cutting into your sleep time to accomplish your looming to-dos may seem like a good idea in theory, but sacrificing your sleep can have serious ramifications on your health. Lack of sleep can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increasing inflammation and suppressing immune function. Getting the right amount of sleep will help keep your immune system healthy.
It has been recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours a night to maintain mental and physical health. If you’re not getting enough, try for a short nap during the day to re-energize your body and boost your immunity.
Working out is a proven way to stay healthy and your immune system’s no exception. Regular, moderate exercise such as 30 minutes of brisk walking a day can help the immune system fight infection. Exercise increases the circulation of white blood cells and promotes other immune system functions. It can also boost the body’s feel-good chemicals to help sleep cycles. So get moving! Note: gyms can be super germy, so exercise outside if possible.
Nobody likes stress, but your immune system hates it. Chronic stress releases cortisol into the body, weakening the immune system’s abilities. Be proactive about reducing stress — spend time doing the things that bring you joy. Try meditation, invigorate your creative muscles, or spend more time with your family and friends. Whatever activities bring you joy, make time for them. This simple promise to yourself can do wonders for keeping you healthy when your students are coughing all around you.
Drink more water
Water is life. And staying hydrated helps our bodies function properly. Simple as that. Water aids the delivery of white blood cells and other system cells through the body. So avoid overdoing those dehydrating beverages like coffee and soda — especially during flu season. Instead, drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day to flush the yuckies from your body and support your immune health. Sound like a lot? Up your water intake without the glass by including more hydrating foods like cucumbers, celery, or watermelon to your daily diet.
When everyone around you is coming down with a winter illness, make sure you give your immune system the attention it needs to stay strong and protect your body. With small changes and conscious decisions, you really can boost your body’s ability to fight viruses and defend against infection.
Ashley is an award-winning copywriter and content expert with more than a decade of proven results for national and local clients. From brainstorming high-end conceptual content to styling sentences that engage and convert, she’s got a knack for shattering the status quo. When she’s not in full-on writing mode, she’s hanging out with her rascal of a puppy and discussing the plausibility of unicorns with her 8-year-old daughter.