How to boost your immune system: 5 ways to fend off cold and flu symptoms

It's never a bad time to learn how to boost your immune system, but it's especially important right now

how to boost your immune system
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Looking for advice on how to boost your immune system? Whether you find yourself coming down with colds more often than you'd like, or you are (understandably) worried about the Coronavirus, now is a pretty good time to give your immune system a bit of TLC. Late winter is a particularly common time for people to catch cold and flu because our immune systems have been depleted over the harsh winter months. Follow these steps to build up your immune defences and (hopefully) avoid catching anything. 

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1. Get more sleep

Getting more sleep is probably the single best thing you can do for your health in general, and your immune system in particular. Even a single night of poor sleep or not enough sleep makes you more vulnerable to viruses and infections, to say nothing of chronic sleep deprivation. 

Find our how to sleep well in our in-depth guide. 

2. Eat better 

Food is another basic building block of your immune system: we need a varied diet not just to survive, but to keep healthy over time. Eating more vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and fibre has multiple health benefits, including strengthening the immune system. try to avoid processed and fas food as much as you can – it's nutritionally poor and doesn't give your body enough of the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally.

If you're able to, try cooking at home more – check our our food hub page for simple and inspiring recipes, most of which can be made in about half an hour.

3. Consider supplements

While supplements cannot replace a healthy diet (you'll read this on every bottle and packet of vitamins), there are a couple of supplements that have been proven to improve your immune system. One of them is vitamin D, which the NHS (opens in new tab) recommends we all take between late autumn and early spring if we live in the Northern hemisphere. 

The other is vitamin C – but in order to get the real benefits, you might need to invest in more than fizzy vitamin C tablets. Look for Liposomal vitamin C (opens in new tab) instead – it won't cure a cold that's already there, but it has been clinically proven to improve your immune system (and your skin, which is a bonus). 

It is important not to rely on multivitamins to protect your from colds and flu, though – sadly, it really doesn't seem to work that way. 

4. Drink more water

Yes, drinking more water boosts your immune system. It does so by improving your kidney function (opens in new tab), allowing your kidneys to work more efficiently to flush out toxins from your body, making you less likely to fall ill. Water also helps increase blood supply to the brain, which in turn improves melatonin production that is essential for sleeping well. 

There no need buy water for hydration, either – tap water is perfectly fine and safe for you to drink. Just remember to refill your reusable water bottle.   

5. Exercise regularly

Aerobic exercise – exercise that quickens your breath and increases your heart rate has been proven to boost your immune system by immunoglobulin (infection- and virus-fighting antibodies) levels in your blood. You should aim to do some form of exercise that makes you slightly out of breath every day. This doesn't have to mean going to the gym daily, but can include fast walking, swimming, gardening, and even cleaning. 

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.