December 1, 2022

How to Improve Your Immune System This Winter

Flu season is arriving, and as the weather gets colder and wetter, more people are feeling run down. Whether it be from colds, coughs or the flu, the immune system is struggling to fight off infections and people are becoming ill.

However, there are ways in which the immune system can be improved during the winter months. This will enable you to protect yourself against the bacteria and viruses that are causing these illnesses, meaning you will be less likely to suffer from these conditions.


What is an Immune System?


Floating virus cell particles in the human body

An immune system is a collection of organs, proteins and cells that form a network to help defend and protect the body from infections. A pathogen is a microorganism that can cause illness, such as bacteria or a virus. When a pathogen enters the body, the immune system can form antibodies designed to fight off that specific illness. 

Once the pathogen has been identified and destroyed, the immune system keeps a small number of cells in the body to remember which antibodies are required to destroy that pathogen. This means that if that same pathogen infects the body again, the body can quickly recognise it and produce more of the correct antibody to destroy the pathogen. This is why people can recover from an illness quicker the second time they have it.


How to Test Immune System Strength


Petri dishes testing bacteria and cell immunity

If you want to test the strength of your immune system, you can use a general health test kit. These kits can test for 27 different biomarkers and allow you to establish whether or not you may have underlying conditions that you are currently unaware of.

For more detailed information about your immune system, you will need to have an immunoglobins blood test. This type of test measures the levels of IgG, IgA and IgM in your bloodstream, and can therefore help to determine whether or not you are suffering from health conditions that could impact your immune system.


Ways to Improve Your Immune System


When people ask how to improve their immune system, there is a range of options they can utilise to suit their specific needs and circumstances. Take a look and see how you can improve your immune system this winter.


1) Keep up to date on your vaccinations

Doctor vaccinating a patient for winter

There are various vaccinations available through the NHS and through our The Travel Health Clinic website that can help to protect you from illnesses, especially in the winter. A lot of people with suppressed immune systems are eligible for a free flu vaccination to help decrease the chances of them suffering from influenza. 

These conditions can include a range of things, including weakened immune systems, heart conditions and respiratory conditions like asthma and emphysema. This is not a comprehensive list, and you should check with your GP to see if you are eligible for a free vaccination. If you do not qualify for a free flu vaccination, you can pay to get one anyway.

The Travel Health Clinic offer the pneumonia vaccination for people aged 65 years and over, as well as for people with health conditions. This vaccination is a one-off injection when given to people over the age of 65, and two injections are given to babies. These are given at the age of 12 weeks, and then again at 1 year old, and these vaccinations are available in both our Crest Pharmacy and our Fazeley Pharmacy.

If you are travelling abroad, it is important that you are up to date with travel vaccinations to protect you from illnesses whilst you are away. With a range of travel vaccination sites available throughout the UK, the Travel Health Clinic can offer you various vaccinations to keep you safe whilst you travel abroad.


2) Eat a healthy and varied diet

The human body needs a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins to function efficiently and effectively, and these vitamins and nutrients are needed in different quantities. To gain all the relevant foods to boost the immune system, as well as all the other nutrients the body needs, a person needs to eat a balanced diet.

To check the vitamin levels in your body, you can take a vitamin profile test. Different tests tell you about different vitamins, such as the Travel Health Clinic measuring the levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D and folate, so you can pick the test that suits your needs. 


3) Consider taking supplements to increase your vitamin intake

Omega 3 tablets spilling out of a bottle on a white background

If you are unable to commit to eating a varied and balanced diet, you can take supplements to increase your levels of the necessary vitamins for the immune system and the rest of the body. 

If you don’t know what vitamins you are currently lacking, you can take a vitamin profile test to work out which supplements would be best for you. Vitamin D is especially important for a healthy immune system, and it can be difficult to ensure you get enough of it in the winter months. 

The Travel Health Clinic have both a rapid vitamin D testing kit and a vitamin profile test, which you can use to check if you have enough vitamins in your diet. This can help you to work out which specific supplements you need.


4) Try and spend some time in the sun

Cloud in blue sky with the sun in the background

Whilst supplements are a great way to get vitamin D, another great way is through sun exposure. If it is possible, booking a holiday abroad can help you to obtain those essential vitamins, but don’t forget to wear sun cream! Factor 30 sun cream is ideal for protecting your skin against UV rays whilst also letting you get the vitamin D you need from the sun, and after-sun cream is the perfect moisturiser to hydrate your skin when the sun goes down.

However, travelling abroad is not always practical or possible, and other methods may be needed to get the required amount of vitamin D into the body. Supplements can provide you with the vitamin D you need, especially in the colder months when sun exposure is harder to gain.


5) Get a Restful night’s sleep

Woman lying in bed, fast asleep

Another way to improve your immune system is to get enough quality sleep. The average adult requires approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per night, though some people need more and some need less. Getting the amount of sleep you need can have amazing benefits for your immune system, whereas a lack of sleep can lead to you becoming run down. This in turn makes you more susceptible to illnesses and can damage your immune system.

If you are struggling with sleep, there are a range of sleeping aids available to help you get the rest you need. The Travel Health Clinic have tablet, capsule and liquid options for you to choose from, allowing you to find the strength and format you prefer so you can sleep at night.


6) Reduce stress levels

Woman feeling very stressed at her desk, laptop and paperwork in front of her

Jobs and circumstances can be stressful, and this can lead to other health problems. Higher stress levels can lead to you becoming tired and run down, which can make you more likely to become ill.

If you can, identify the main sources of your stress and put things in place to rectify this as it can help to improve your immune system, as well as lower your stress levels. This stress can come from numerous things, such as financial difficulties or family life, but trying to reduce your stress can make you less likely to become ill.

Taking care of your health is important, and the encroaching winter can make this more difficult. The Travel Health Clinic have a wide array of diagnostic test kits that you can use to identify conditions or deficiencies that you may have, allowing you to improve your overall health in the coming months.