When your immune system is strong, you have a better chance of fighting off colds and other infections.
Your immune system has the job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms, such as the viruses that cause colds and the flu. When your immune system is healthy, it can do a remarkable job of defeating these viruses and keeping you well. But sometimes a virus invades successfully and makes you sick.
So how do you strengthen your immune system? Here are our top 10 tips to help keep you in tip-top shape:
1. Wash your hands regularly
Washing your hands regularly is a proven way to stay healthy and reduce the spread of viruses. The recommendation is to wash them for 20 seconds and dry them for 20 seconds.
2. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
Eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables helps keep germs away. Aim for five plus a day – it’s easier than you think. Try to eat a rainbow of colours. Eat what’s in season and use a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables to keep within your budget. Learn more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables and how to get more in your diet.
3. Don’t smoke
Smoking is bad for your health and harms your body in many ways including causing damage to your lungs and heart. It’s also bad for the health or your friends and whānau who breathe in second-hand smoke.
4. Limit alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health and can weaken your immunity. Reducing your alcohol intake or quitting all together will bring health benefits and joy to your wallet.
5. Keep away from sick people
This may seem obvious, but keep away from sick people to reduce the risk of getting sick yourself.
6. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise boosts your immune system and makes you feel good, so brush off your workout gear. Aim for 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Try and sit less and do more. Check out our top tips for fitting in daily exercise into busy lives.
7. Get enough sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is essential to your wellbeing and protects your physical and mental health. It’s recommended that adults get between 7–9 hours’ sleep every night. Follow a good sleep routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day and try some relaxation and mindfulness exercises before you go to sleep. Falling asleep 15–20 minutes after going to bed is a sign that your body’s in a good sleep routine.
8. Follow public health advice
Listen to the Ministry of Health or Government about what health advice to follow. They are the experts and know what they’re talking about.
9. Watch your stress levels
Too much stress is bad for your health and weakens your immune system, so try to keep your stress levels in check.
10. Check your vaccinations
Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Being vaccinated makes sure that your body is ready to jump into action when you come into contact with certain infections. Get the flu vaccination each year – it’s free for many people.
If you have flu-like symptoms or suspect you may have COVID-19, please phone your GP or the dedicated coronavirus Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice. Please do not turn up to your GP, after hours or emergency department without phoning ahead first.