10 Ways to boost your immunity

Susannah Hickling

The cold season is upon us, but there are plenty of tricks you can try to help keep those bugs at bay

1. Get the juicer out

Both turmeric—the yellow spice used in curry—and ginger are reputed to have antimicrobial properties and enhance immunity. They also make delicious juices. Try a homemade carrot, apple and fresh ginger juice or one made of courgette, apple and fresh turmeric.

 

2. Plunge into cold water

Sounds like torture? Maybe, but there’s evidence that daily cold showers or baths (not for too long, mind), can boost your immune system. Giving yourself a few blasts of cold water during a hot shower might be a more comfortable approach.

 

3. Relax in a sauna

Hot air might fight viruses too, an Austrian study found. Volunteers who regularly used a sauna had half as many colds over six months as those who didn’t take one at all. You can find them in many gyms and public pools.

 

4. Reduce sugar

That could be a tall order over the festive season, but sugar diminishes your immune system function, making you less able to fight a cold.

 

5. Sit in a dimly lit room

Stress can increase your susceptibility to the sniffles, according to research. What’s more, stressed people have as many as twice the number of colds as relaxed folk. So unwind once a day by sitting in a quiet room in low light and focusing on one word. Meditation is a proven way of reducing stress.

 

6. Use your knuckle to rub your eye

It’s less likely to be contaminated with viruses than the tip of your finger. The eye is an entry point for germs, and most of us rub our eyes or nose or scratch our face 20 to 50 times a day.

 

7. Don’t play the blame game

Believe it or not, beating yourself up can make you more prone to a cold. At least, that’s what researchers found when they studied more than 200 workers over three months. When people lacked confidence or blamed themselves when things went wrong, they were more likely to start sneezing and wheezing. It could be that they were more stressed, which compromises your immunity.

 

8. Turn down the thermostat

Lower the heat by a degree or two. The dry air of an overheated home is the perfect environment for the lurgy to lurk. When mucous membranes (in your nose, mouth and tonsils) dry out, they’re less able to trap germs.

 

9. Put out boxes of tissues

Make sure there are tissues close to places people sit in your home or workplace. That way, if they need to cough, sneeze or blow their nose, they won’t be so likely to spread the germs.

 

10. Take a garlic supplement

When 146 volunteers received either one garlic supplement a day or a placebo for 12 weeks over winter, those who took garlic were less likely to catch a cold and, if they did, it disappeared sooner.