When it comes to fighting colds and ‘flu, prevention is always better than cure. And while you might think you’re giving your immune system the support it needs, there are things we all do on an almost daily basis that make it harder for our bodies’ natural defenses to ward off bugs and germs. Here’s a look at a few bad habits to try and break this winter, to help keep your immune system strong and healthy.


Late Nights

While you sleep, your body gets a chance to restore its natural functions, including immune system strength. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t get a chance to recharge itself, and you stand a higher risk of coming down with an infectious cold or ‘flu. Poor sleep is also linked to lower numbers of T-cells; the white blood cells needed to help your body fight disease. Try and go to bed at the same time every night, and give your body 7-8 hours or sleep to restore its natural ‘flu-fighting functions.

These natural teas and supplements combat insomnia and promote restful sleep:


Too Much Sun

When the winter sun comes out, it’s tempting to dash outside and spend the day soaking up those rays. But be careful to limit your sun exposure, and always wear a mineral sunscreen to prevent UVA and UVB damage. Studies have shown a link between UV radiation exposure and damage to the immune system; so staying out of the sun won’t just save your skin, it can also protect you from picking up winter bugs.


Not Enough Water

When the weather is cooler, we tend to feel thirsty less often and drink less water than we would in summer. This is a big no-no; your immune system needs proper hydration to function! Water flushes out harmful toxins and helps your body to fight off infection, plus it affects your energy levels and even the quality of your sleep. Do your immune system a favour and reach for a cup of warm lemon water, or caffeine-free herbal tea, instead of that morning coffee.


Stress & Strain

High stress levels can create a hormonal imbalance in your body, weakening the immune system and making you more susceptible to illness. Chronic stress raises your body’s cortisol levels, and decreases the production of prostaglandins; the “messengers” that support immune system function.

Keep your stress levels in check with regular exercise, yoga or meditation, and support your mind and body with a stress-busting herbal supplement.

These natural remedies help to combat stress and anxiety:


Sugar & Alcohol

Too much alcohol deprives the body of valuable immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin A, and can weaken the function of white blood cells. Sugary snacks are also bad for your immune system. The blood cells need vitamin C to fight off viruses; and because glucose (from sugar) is so similar in structure to vitamin C, when you ingest too much sugar it actually starts competing with vitamin C for space in your immune cells.

By limiting your intake of sugar and alcohol, you can help to keep your immune system fighting fit; satisfy your sweet tooth with some sugar-free treats, and save the cocktails for a special occasion.