How to Boost Your Immune Function This Fall

A woman in active clothing tying the shoelaces on her runners

It’s Fall! That means a gorgeous landscape of colourful leaves, breaking out your warm, cozy sweaters, and, uh-oh, sneezing, coughing, and the chills. With all the great stuff that comes with the colder months also comes a much higher possibility of illness. Luckily there are some straightforward things you can do to boost your immune system this cold and flu season.

Drink less alcohol

You might be missing sunny patio hangouts and backyard barbeques, but leaving those boozy social occasions behind could be a good thing for your immune system. Alcohol severely represses your immune function by affecting the ability of certain immune cells, called macrophages, to pinpoint and destroy harmful bacteria as it invades your body. Stick to moderate drinking guidelines (no more than 10 drinks per week for women, or 15 per week for men) to avoid the immune-suppressing effects of alcohol.

Get more sleep

Lack of sleep negatively affects so many aspects of your life, and your immune system is no exception. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes a decrease in the body’s levels of immune-boosting T cells. Not catching enough Zs will also increase your levels of stress hormones which, you guessed it, suppress immune function even further.

Exercise

Physical exercise is truly a magic pill for a healthy life. It improves almost every function of your body, including your immune response. Try for around 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per day. It helps circulate white blood cells, our disease-fighting immune system cells. Exercise also increases your body temperature, which may help fight off infection, much like when you have a fever.

Wash (and dry) your hands

Obviously washing your hands is one of the best ways to help avoid contracting and spreading viruses and bacteria. Drying your hands properly is just as important! Germs are much more likely to stick to a wet surface than a dry one. If you wash your hands then touch anything (like the bathroom doorknob) while they’re still wet, way more bacteria from that surface will transfer to your hands than if they were dry.

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