Colds, stomach bugs and other viral illnesses may have all but disappeared during the past two years of face masks, social distancing and pandemic restrictions, but are set to be back with a vengeance in many places this winter.
Getting a flu jab and Covid-19 vaccine is great, but there's more you can do to help your body fight off infections. To support your immune system, it helps to build certain healthy rituals into your everyday life.
According to sports scientist Ingo Froböse, a professor at the German Sport University Cologne, drinking too little water weakens the natural barrier of the mucous membranes in the throat, pharynx and nose.
Your lung tissue is also weakened at the same time. This all makes life easier for pathogens.
For every kilogramme of body weight, you should drink about 30ml of fluid a day, preferably water and unsweetened teas.
So if you weigh 70kg, it is best to drink at least 2.1 litres a day.
According to Prof Froböse, the best time to start is right after getting up, when you should make a habit of drinking a large glass of water.
Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats and lentils have one thing in common: They supply the body with a good amount of iron and zinc.
These micronutrients ensure that our T-cells – the cells that detect viruses in our body – can work well.
Selenium also helps our body's defences and can be found, for example, in egg yolks, wholemeal wheat, peanuts or mackerel.
According to Prof Froböse, dietary supplements are not necessary.
Instead, you're better off making sure your diet is mixed.
Stress damages our body – and also our immune system.
It lowers the number of immune cells in the blood and the T-cells divide more slowly.
That's all the more reason to incorporate regular breaks into your daily routine. Even a few moments help to lower stress levels.
Try just taking three consciously deep breaths or even mindfully enjoying a cup of coffee.
Even if it's wet and dark out, exercising outdoors in the fresh air is well worth it, not only to strengthen your immune system, but also to give your mood a boost.
Prof Froböse advises against pressuring yourself to perform, however.
Rather than overexerting yourself, it's better to do what you feel like doing the most – be it a run or a relaxed walk. – dpa