Boosting your immune system

HCDS Peer Services Outreach Coordinator discusses tips for staying healthy in the dreary winter months

Taking vitamins, eating well and getting enough sleep can be critical to preserving one’s health in the winter months, HCDS Peer Services Outreach Coordinator says.
Taking vitamins, eating well and getting enough sleep can be critical to preserving one’s health in the winter months, HCDS Peer Services Outreach Coordinator says.
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With the winter months upon us, cold and flu symptoms are popping up in students across campus.
Everyone knows our health is important, few people actually manage to prioritize it. For most students, a good night’s sleep and quality home-cooked meals are rare treats, but a quickly crashing immune system makes it more important than ever to make good lifestyle choices.
Health, Counselling and Disability Services Peer Health Outreach Coordinator Beth Doxsee said that germs spread much faster in the winter months because people spend so
much time.
“If one person gets sick they may spread germs onto doorknobs or keyboards and other people may not notice and pick them up,” she said, adding that there are a number of measures students can take to ward off germs and help strengthen their immune system.
Hand washing and sneezing or coughing into one’s sleeve are obvious steps one can take to stop sharing their germs. Doxsee said getting lots of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins C and E, can be vital to strengthening one’s immune system.
“With itamin C you go for the citrus fruits and for vitamin E you are looking for things like almonds, peanuts, or sunflower seeds,” she said. “Colourful fruits and vegetables are also a great source for essential nutrients.”
Doxsee identified Echinacea as another quick fix.
“It’ll stop things in its tracks, but research doesn’t necessarily support that.
“Besides diet, regular physical activity can boost your energy, but overdoing it can be a problem,” Doxsee said. “Try to keep things in moderation. If you drink too much it can suppress your
immune system.”
Stress can also be detrimental, she said.
“Stress levels skyrocket during the [school] year. So you want to make sure you keep your stress levels at a manageable point,”
she said.
Sleep is also crucial. Doxsee said that sleep gives your body a chance to recharge and rest for the upcoming day. As a result, people who are sleep deprived are at more risk to get sick.
“One good night of sleep isn’t enough, you can’t just fix it all in one night,” she said. “It has to happen gradually if you’ve really missed a lot.”

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