In autumn and winter, the constant change from warm to cold and the dry heating air make our immune system vulnerable.
Traveling on public transport often gives our ailing defense system the rest – after all, between coughing and sniffing fellow travelers, you hardly have a chance to protect yourself from flying germs.
And it is apparently not enough to counter the viral threat with the much-acclaimed hot lemon.
This means that when viruses and bacteria lurk for victims, especially in autumn and winter, they have an easy time of it.
With these twelve tips you can confront nasty pathogens – the best way to do this is to combine them with one another.
1. A good mood strengthens your immune system
Constant stress makes you sick. So: Be good to yourself, take breaks, laugh a lot – a good mood keeps you fit. Sound too simple to be true? But it is.
2. Strengthen the immune system with foot baths
Stimulating blood circulation and the immune system through alternating showers has proven itself, but is not for the faint of heart.
The equally efficient light version works like this: fill a bucket calf-high with cold water, one with 35 degrees warm.
Now sit on a chair and alternately bathe your feet warm for three minutes and cold for 15 seconds.
Repeat three times and always finish the foot bath in cold water.
3. Hats and scarves protect against the cold
In the cold with wet hair out of the gym? Not a good idea: the head cools down quickly and thus the blood vessels in the airways contract – this makes it easier for viruses to penetrate.
So, first blow dry and then put on your hat! And: biking and jogging in the cold with a cloth over your mouth.
4. Strengthen the immune system: do not touch your face!
Cold viruses are not, as long suspected, transmitted primarily through coughing and sneezing, but rather through hands.
On doorknobs, at ATMs, when shaking hands – we come into contact with pathogens everywhere.
And since we have our fingers on our faces every four minutes on average when talking on the phone, thinking about things or adjusting our glasses, we offer them the best chance of attack. Therefore: hands down! And wash more often.
5. Stay at home if you have a cold
You don’t want to let your colleagues down at work and therefore drag yourself to the office with a sore throat, runny nose and the like?
Better not do that. Because if you go to work sick, you not only run the risk of infecting colleagues – the viruses spread quickly, especially in open-plan offices – but also that your own healing will be delayed.
So try to keep your feet still and rest at home, because neither your boss nor your colleagues benefit if you appear sick in the office but then lie flat for two weeks.
Incidentally, there is already a name for the urge to go to work sick: presentationalism.
6. Good sleep strengthens the immune system
During sleep, the brain regenerates and processes what it has learned during the day – we have known that for a long time. But according to scientists, deep sleep could also play an important role in our immune system.
Because, according to a Mexican study, those who sleep less than seven hours at night are three times more likely to catch a cold.
If you want to support your sleep, you should treat yourself to a neck pillow in order to optimally regenerate and recover.
7. Strengthen the immune system with exercise in the fresh air
When it comes to mobilizing killer cells and other helpers of the immune system, moderate endurance exercise is ideal. Running, swimming, walking – whatever you feel like doing.
Studies have shown that even 20 minutes of moderate exercise (a small workout, climbing stairs, jogging, etc.) can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
On the other hand, too extreme training stresses the body: If you are already a bit wobbly on your legs, a crisp unit in the Crossfit box can now give you the rest.
Important: Once you have been caught, you shouldn’t do any sport at all – not even soft. Because that puts additional strain on the body, which now needs rest.
8. Heating air weakens the immune system
Heating air dries out the mucous membranes – this makes it easier for viruses to attack our health.
That’s why it’s best to ventilate three times a day for ten minutes each time with the window wide open. This is how you keep the air moist.
But don’t cool too much, not even the bedroom. Temperatures below 18 degrees mean (immune) stress for the body.
9. Sage tea for a strong immune system
Sage is not only considered the ultimate medicinal herb for coughs and runny nose. The essential oils contained also soothe the mucous membranes and promote their natural function – and fight off pathogens directly.
Scientific studies show that sage also dilates the bronchial tubes, making it easier to breathe and cough up.
10. Does Vitamin C Really Strengthen the Immune System?
Ask ten friends or acquaintances, and ten times you will get the same answer: “You absolutely need vitamin C for your immune system!” Everyone knows that – and is, at least in part, actually wrong.
Contrary to the apparently ineradicable health myth, at least an extra dose of the abundant vitamin C contained in oranges, lemons, peppers or kiwi fruit does not provide more effective protection against cold viruses for most of us.
Because: Only those who are exposed to extraordinary stress will actually benefit from the precautionary administration of vitamin C – for example marathon runners or skiers in winter. Various international studies have since confirmed this.
In plain language: Vitamin C basically strengthens the immune system, catches free radicals and can alleviate symptoms – but if we are guaranteed not to be deficient in any vitamin, then this one. The hot lemon sipped every day therefore has no additional benefit.
Also dispensable: Cold preparations with vitamin C. If you still don’t want to do without vitamin C, take sea buckthorn: it contains ten times more vitamins than the same amount of citrus fruits.
By the way: Vitamin A (for example in carrots or dried apricots) “cares” for the mucous membranes, for example in the nose and throat. Vitamin B6 (salmon, walnuts) stimulates the formation of immune messenger substances. And vitamin E (wheat germ oil, egg yolk) promotes the maturation of immune cells.
In the video: Why diet supplements are not effective
11. How useful are immune preparations?
These three common over-the-counter drugs are often recommended for colds and flu-like infects.
Orthomol immune: The dietary supplement contains high doses of vitamins, trace elements, etc. However, those who do not have a pronounced deficiency cannot expect any protective effects.
Curazink: According to the manufacturer, a drug to remedy a certain zinc deficiency. In fact, it can weaken the immune system. Taken with the first symptoms, an effect is possible.
Echinacea: Whether the active ingredient in the purple coneflower helps is still debatable. University of Connecticut studies say yes. Others, such as Stanford University, claim the opposite. Try it out, but be careful with allergies.
Just recently, Stiftung Warentest took a close look at common cold remedies – and came to the conclusion that most of the medicines are not effective.
The foundation was convinced of the Grippostad C hot drink alone and classified it as “suitable”.
12. Strengthen the immune system with the right diet
A few little tricks are enough to sustainably strengthen the immune system.
Various studies show: those who serve the body enough cell-protecting minerals (above all zinc and selenium) as well as secondary plant substances can strengthen their immune system and defend themselves better against the attack of annoying cold viruses.