No one likes being sick. Your nose runs, you fall behind at work, no one wants to hug you. The good news is – you have more control over your immune system than you think! That’s the word from our friend, Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Center. He says your everyday actions – what you eat, what you do to unwind and so on, affect your body’s ability to defend itself from germs. So, here’s how to minimize your chances of coming down with something this winter. We found these tips in Real Simple magazine.

  • Show off your musical talents. Research from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt found that singing helps improve both your mood, and the levels of antibodies that protect you from germs. A study from Willamette University in Oregon found that when people played percussion instruments, like drums – and sang along - they showed greater amounts antibodies than people who simply listened to the music. So go ahead and drum the steering wheel and belt out a tune when you’re stuck in traffic.
  • Get three colors in every meal. Fruits and veggies in vibrant shades – such as red,orange and yellow – are especially rich in cartenoids, which help immune cells surround and kill off a virus. They also contain vitamins A and C, which strengthen cells and help fend off invading bacteria. Dr. Charles Stephensen, a research scientist with the US Department of Agriculture, says you should aim for five to nine servings of produce a day – which is easier to do than you think! Have at least one serving at each meal, and two snacks – and you’ve already hit five. Anything more is a bonus.
  • Stay in motion. Studies consistently show that moderate exercise – walking briskly, cycling or swimming – enhances your body’s defenses, and cuts your sick days in half! According to Dr. Katz, aerobic exercise enhances your blood flow and the circulatory system is the route of transportation for those cells that fight infection. Don’t assume that more exercise will give you super-human bug resistance. Prolonged, vigorous exercise can actually compromise your immunity. Ideally, you should be getting 45 minutes of moderate activity five times a week.