We do this topic every winter (here in the northern hemisphere), so here's the round for February 2009. I've had a cold since the beginning of January, and my younger son has been trying to fight one off, too, but both of us were felled last night and today by snot, coughing, and overwhelming tiredness. And it seems like everyone else we know is either sick, getting better from being sick, or feeling like they're coming down with something.
So let's share strategies for trying to boost our immune systems so we can stay healthy. Here are the things I try to do (although I'm particularly bad with the first two):
1. Get enough sleep. Within your particular situation, maximizing the sleep you get will help you stay well. For those of us without night-waking babies and toddlers, that means (gasp!) turning off the TV/Facebook/Wii/massively engrossing knitting project/whatever.
2. Drink a lot of water. Your cells need it to function, and it helps to flush all the bad stuff out of your body. Just because the heat isn't telling you to drink more doesn't mean your body doesn't need it.
3. Eat fruits and vegetables. Try for 5-6 servings a day.
4. Take your vitamins. I'm partial to Emergen-C because you drink it so it hits your system quickly. I just chugged my first Emergen-C immune defense a few minutes ago (it's got added zinc), so if it miraculously cures me over night I'll let you know. The guy at the UPS store just now swears by Airborne (which isn't actually a vitamin, but an herbal formula). Your regular vitamins are going to help you out, too (although check the labels of your kids' vitamins to make sure they're not mostly HFCS).
5. Cut out the sugar. I know, there's practically nothing more soothing on a February night than sitting down with a bowl of ice cream while watching Hollywood Week, but sugar depresses your immune system. I am painfull aware that it's not the same thing at all, but I've mostly convinced myself that a big mug of red zinger tea is a treat in the evening. (OK, not really. But I'm trying.)
Now that I've written those all out, I realize I need to do a massively better job with going to bed at a decent hour and drinking water. And that maybe I could use another couple of servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Where could you improve? Is there some miracle immune booster I don't know about? (Does rooibos tea do anything for the immune system? I know you South Africans drink it by the gallon, practically. Does it help you not get sick?)