As winter approaches, cold and flu season is kicking into full gear. Everywhere you go, you can hear the tell-tale coughs and sniffles of people all around you. It’s enough to make anybody go into full defense mode. How do you stay healthy in the midst of all this sickness? There are the usual methods: sleep, drink water, eat your vitamins, etc. But also, there are other methods that range from fun to unexpected to just plain weird. Read on to find out what alternative methods you can use to boost your immune system:
1. Eat smelly foods.
General rule? The stinkier it is, the more it will boost your immune system. Load up on raw garlic and ginger or the popular Chinese herb ginseng. This works well when you’re actually sick too—I remember my mom would feed me raw garlic and I’d be almost fully recovered the next day. Guaranteed, you’ll have very pungent breath, so pop some mints.
2. Get a massage.
Here’s a good reason to treat yourself to a massage: according to CNN, massages boost your natural killer cells, which are your body’s first line of defense. They even boost immunity in those who have severely compromised immune systems, like cancer patients. An added bonus? They decrease PMS symptoms as well.
3. Drink a beer.
As if we needed another excuse to get turnt on Friday nights. Studies have shown that people who regularly drink in moderation have a lowered risk of death and a stronger response to vaccinations (an increase in immune system health). The key takeaways of this, however, is to drink in moderation.
4. Eat your boogers.
Wait what? Yeah, you read that right. Probably the weirdest item on this list, the theory is that since your mucus traps germs before it reaches your body, eating it will train your body to fight these germs. So basically, like a homemade vaccine. Try at your own risk.
5. Get a little frisky.
Have a significant other? Well, both of you are in luck. Regular human touch, especially having sex, releases the antibody immunoglobulin (IGA), which helps to prevent colds and the flu.
6. Get lost in the woods.
No, Taylor Swift, we do not want to get “Out of the Woods” just yet. Japanese scientists have been prescribing “forest therapy” as a way to boost your immune system, ever since a study showed that people who spent 6 hours hiking over the course of 2 days had higher levels of “killer cells.” Don’t have a forest nearby? Just get outside and enjoy nature—it will have similar effects.
7. Fermentation is key.
Healthy probiotics such as kombucha, kefir and yogurt increase the levels of good bacteria in your gut. Since 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, strengthening the bacteria that reside there will help your body fight off pathogens.
8. Soak up the sun.
Move over, Vitamin C. Vitamin D is one of the biggest contributors to maintaining a healthy immune system. Known as the sunshine vitamin, the best way to get your daily dose is to get 15-20 minutes of sun. Not only will this help you stay healthy, but also can help combat depression.
9. Find balance.
Traditional Chinese medicine says that your body must be in a constant balance of yin and yang in order to stay healthy. Your body internally regulates the amount of yin and yang, and when they’re out of balance (i.e. making you sick), your body must work to restore that balance. Whether you believe this or not, it’s true that living a balanced lifestyle is a healthy one. This means everything in moderation- no deprivation, no excess.