Flu season is upon us and many of us can fall victim to the habits that make us vulnerable to flu-causing bacteria. When it comes down to staying healthy, prevention through food and lifestyle habits are key. Keep these 5 tips in mind to keep your system protected during this fall and winter!

1. Hit Happy Hour

Did you know just 20 minutes after consuming alcohol, our body signals for an increase in pro-inflammatory messengers to circulate the bloodstream? These messengers initially rev up your immune system for action, increasing the number of leukocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells. Not much after, the responses are diminished, and the immune response becomes more sluggish than before.
Good News: Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have the opposite effect –thanks to those antioxidants that are beneficial to your immunity.

2. Forget About Sleep

Research shows that when you are deprived of sleep, inflammation in the body rises while our fightin’  t-cells decrease. The result? A sluggish immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off colds and influenza. Plus, after a lacklustre sleep we are more likely to reach for the third cup of coffee or cinnamon bun for an energy boost.

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Poor sleep -> stress and cravings -> poor diet -> hampered immune system

3. Indulge In Your Sweet Side

Did you know just one teaspoon of sugar has the ability to suppress your immune system for four hours? Sugar also forces your body to tap into its own important mineral reserve to assimilate and find ways to deal with it in the body. Another thing; bacteria, yeast and fungi that we are trying to avoid thrive on sugars. More sugar + processed foods = feasting time for bad bacteria
Good news: In small amounts, raw honey is a great option as it is antiviral, anti-fungal, anti- bacterial properties which our immune system loves.

4. Forget About ‘Me’ Time

Have you noticed that you seem to catch a cold when you are having an extra difficult week at work, experiencing bumps in your personal life? When we’re stressed over long periods the body releases hormones that impair the effectiveness of white blood cells (our immune soldiers)The reason being is our body is trying to deal with a perceived ‘threat’ placing priority onto some bodily functions (such as circulation) and disregarding others (immune function, digestion)

Translation: Stress lowers your ability to fight disease.

5. Put In Double Time At The Gym

Regular moderate exercise is great for our mental health, circulation and keeping colds at bay. However for some endurance athletes and high-intensity trainers, too much of a good thing can be really hard on your body, potentially weakening your immune system. Overexertion during exercise can be perceived as stress by the body, exposing it to free radicals, and increasing the amount of stress hormones circulating through the body. Too many of these bad guys can get in the way of your sleep cycle, cause weight gain and hinder your ability to fight disease.

What Else Would You Add To The List?

This article was republished with permission from foodmatters.tv.

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