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Micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, archaea and protists, live in and around us all the time. You get helpful and harmful ones but the harmful ones, which cause the conditions for disease, only flourish when we experience emotional, physical or mental stress to our system.

Description: Micro-organisms


Try these immune-boosting tips to keep common stress culprits at bay:

1.    Press the snooze button

Dozens of studies support the notion that sleep is just as important for maintaining good health as diet and exercise.

“When we sleep, our body helps repair and rebuild cells more efficiently,” says Len Saunders, author of Keeping Kids Fit (LaChance Publishing). “So this will help strengthen our immune system to fight sickness and disease.”

2.    Ready your flu-fighting grocery list

Description: If we want to be "healthier"eat less processed food

If we want to be "healthier"eat less processed food

Eat the least amount of processed foods possible. The worse your diet, the worse your body’s ability to repair and recover. Use this nifty immune-boosting food list to ensure a winter-healthy shopping basket:

·         Protein: Pork tenderloin, brazil nuts, oily fish, lean beef.

·         Fruit: Apples, strawberries, cranberries, tomatoes, pineapple.

·         Vegetables: Broccoli, onions, horse-radish, mushrooms, carrots, avocado.

·         Other: Oats, honey, cayenne, legumes.

Follow the 7-day immune-boosting meal plan at shapemag.co.za

3.    Wash your hands

Wash them before eating and after coming into contact with people who are sick. Yes, it’s one of the most obvious and simplest tasks but it’s one of the best prevention tools – even hospitals use it! And, according to a recent study from the  University of Michigan (US), masks and hand hygiene could cut the spread of flu-like symptoms by up to 43 percent.

“Wash your hands regularly. This is a powerful infection-control strategy” – Dr Charl Van Loggerenberg, director for international SOS.

4.    Work it out

Description: Work it out

Moderate exercise – that is 30 minutes three or four times a week – is a great strategy for preventing colds and flu.

But don’t push too hard. If you’re already under emotional stress and your training is unusually prolonged and intense, your risk for illness and infection goes up. (And if you do get sick, keep your contagions away from the gym, and don’t work out at all if you have a fever.)

5.    Get to the root

Herbs like echinacea, ginseng and garlic are excellent immune boosters.

  • Echinacea increases your body’s power to fight off colds and flu. It’s most effective when used just as those nasty cold and flu symptoms start taking hold.

How to use it: Take it as a herbal supplement, concentrated drops in water or you can buy echinacea teas.

  • Ginseng improves general immunity against infections and also supports the body during stressful times, says Dr van der Merwe.

How to use it: You can get 500mg ginseng capsules, or cut up pieces of root into your soup. But it’s best to consult your doctor or local herbalist to see how much you need and how to use it.

  • Garlic has sometimes been described as a “miracle” medicine because it contains more than 20 antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial substances – and it serves as a wonderful natural antibiotic.

How to use it: Use garlic generously in cooking, crushing the cloves to release the pungent phytochemicals. Chew on fresh parsley to help neutralize “garlic breath”

6.    Avoid crowded, dry, smoky, hot places

“Your environment can increase your chances of getting flu, so beware,” advises Dr Van der Merwe. “Turn off the air conditioners and heaters to allow the air to humidify. Dry air and smoke irritates your mucous membranes and this may lead to catarrh – an inflammation of the mucous membranes in your airways”

7.    Drink more H20

Description: Drink More Water

When German researchers had 14 volunteers drink two cups of water, their metabolism jumbed 30 percent after 40 minutes – and stayed at a higher rate for an hour. Even mild dehydration will slow your metabolism by as much as three percent.

8.    Practise a relaxation technique

“Stress hormones, like cortisol, can put a damper on your metabolism,” says Mark Hyman, author of Ultra-Metabolism (Scribner). When your day starts to get difficult to cope with, close your eyes and take five deep breaths into your belly to reduce rising stress levels.

9.    Keep yourself happy

The immune system takes many of its cues from our thoughts and feelings, so try to keep your outlook upbeat. Years ago Mayo Clinic researchers found that optimists tent to live 12 years longer than pessimists. And a more recent study by psychologist Anna Marsland from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (US) found that people who were negative, moody, nervous and easily stressed had a weaker immune response to a vaccination than their more positive peers.

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