How you can support your immune system during winter months

Niamh Quinlan

Supporting your immune system has never been more important than right now – the coldest months of the year, during a global pandemic.

The idea of “boosting” your immune system is a controversial topic in the health community and many health experts are working on debunking this idea. The only way to actually increase immunity to anything is with a vaccine.

Irish Heart dietician, Sarah Noone, said that “[a]lthough we may not be able to ‘boost’ our immune system through diet and lifestyle, we can support it to work well [through] a diet that includes enough energy and a variety of nutrients.”

Vitamin D is an important part of this. Usually obtained from the sun, in a country like Ireland during the winter and a lockdown where we’re encouraged to stay inside, Vitamin D can instead be gotten from oily fish and has been added to various breakfast cereals and milk.

Exercise, a balanced diet and sleep are all also things that help to support your immune system. Routinely washing your hand also helps (which should already be ingrained in your life at this stage).

A 2010 study by psychology professor Suzanne Segerstrom from the University of Kentucky, found that optimism can have an effect on immunity. Studying 124 law students, it was determined in the study that when optimism dropped, so did cellular immune response.

Another study by the University of Queensland in 2014 found that a positive attitude can help boost immunity also. Older people who have a more positive attitude and outlook were found to have better immunity.

So, the happier you are, the less likely you are to get sick. To help with this, DCU health have a wellness and mindfulness page for student, full of resources that can be found on Loop:

To protect yourself, Harvard Health recommends that you take steps to keep other pathogens and diseases out of your immune system: cook your meat thoroughly; stay warm by wrapping up; practice protected sex to avoid STIs weakening your immunity; and keep washing your hands.

The last one is probably the most important until we can all get vaccinated.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Spencer Backman on Unsplash

Note: This article was reuploaded on 24/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.