7 Ways To Boost Your Immune System And Avoid Getting Sick

by | Jul 10, 2019 | Physical Health

In the cooler months, trying to avoid getting sick is as tricky as trying not to get sand in your shoes at the beach. And if you haven’t already been booked off sick, you’re probably staring down your snotty, coughing colleague hoping they won’t sneeze on you (again).  In fact, a survey done by Pharma Dynamics shows that South Africans are very ill-prepared for these times, also evidenced by the number of days of work lost due to sickness.

A 2019 survey, which aimed to determine how “prepped” South Africans were for the colds and flu season, found that a staggering 64% couldn’t be bothered to eat more healthily by increasing their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, 80% haven’t gone for the flu-jab and six out of 10 people don’t implement proper hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing. Just a year later, we all ended up quarantined at home.

Of the 1 800 South Africans that participated in the online poll, three-quarters weren’t going to be going to bed earlier to get in their eight hours of rest and less than half were boosting their immunity with multivitamins and health tonics.

Here are simple ways to boost your immune system and avoid getting sick:


We’ve all fallen to one of the classic blunders: we forgo sleep for cramming for an exam, working or just staying up late for all the good times. Annemarie Blackmore, a natural health and wellness educator and owner of Inspire Living, says that people who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to colds.

Try getting into a routine of ‘winding down’ earlier and getting to sleep earlier. This means avoiding eating three hours before bed (heavy foods can keep you up), limiting screen time and finding a bedtime routine that helps you drift off faster.

READ MORE: Fall Asleep Faster With These 7 Hacks For Better Sleep

Drink water

Just because it’s colder does not mean you should lessen the amount of liquids you drink. We know it’s tough! This is where herbal teas come in. Buchu and rooibos are our faves and they’re both caffeine-free and packed with immune-boosting properties. (Just don’t load up on sugar and milk).

If you happen to get sick, know this: you lose a lot of fluids! Drinking water is important when recovering from an illness.


Exercising throughout the winter will improve your overall fitness which in turn will boost your immune system. A boosted immune system will combat colds much easier! Exercise with friends, whether it’s going for a jog or playing netball with the girls. You’ll feel healthier while also staying in good physical condition.

Been sick and thinking of exercising again? Dr Christine Kriel warns not to exercise within 24 hours of fever and tiredness. So if you’re feeling like you’re getting sick or you’re not 100% better yet, just be careful. You can always consult your doctor if you’re unsure. Remember that exercising when you’re sick can put a strain on your heart.

READ MORE: Try This 30-Minute HIIT Workout At Home For A Total-Body Burn

Stock up on meds

61% of participants in the survey conducted by Pharma Dynamics said they would not buy any cold or flu medication in preparation for the cold and flu season. However, there are some really affordable and handy over-the-counter meds that you can get your hands on that just might help you nip a cold before it turns into a secondary infection.

Dr Kriel recommends stocking up on nasal spray and decongestants for symptoms, mucolytic for phlegm and paracetamol and ibuprofen for fever and pain. Really handy if you happen to get home from work and start experiencing one of the above symptoms at night.

Try these immune boosters

In colder months when immunity is lower, it might be a good idea to take supplements that boost immunity and can help you avoid getting sick or shortening the time you’re sniffling in bed. These minerals and vitamins are some of the stuff that helps boost immunity and ward off colds.

Vitamin C

No extra points if you’re already in the know about vitamin C’s abilities. An antioxidant, this vitamin protects your body from toxins that cause inflammation in the body. Our bodies don’t produce vitamin C on their own, so supplementing with fruit, veg and supps is important. Find high sources of vitamin C in guavas, oranges, kiwi, peppers and strawberries. Need more? Check this list for 18 food sources of vitamin C.

READ MORE: 3 Comforting Soups That’ll Boost Your Immune System


Also an anti-inflammatory element, this nutrient helps your immune system and keeps your metabolism functioning. In fact, per research, it’s responsible for ensuring your immune cells are working in tip-top shape. To get more Z, try eating oysters (what a chore!), lean beef, pumpkin seeds, lentils and Greek yoghurt.

Vitamin B6

A coenzyme involved in over 150 biochemical reactions, vitamin B6 is a coordinating queen and is essential for the functioning of the human body. When it comes to boosting immunity, B6 is anti-inflammatory and inhibits oxidative stress, thereby improving immune function. It produces white blood cells (the body’s virus and bacteria assassins) and T-cells (the protection detail against unwanted organisms). To up your intake of vitamin B6, look to foods like chickpeas, beef, salmon or tuna and potatoes.


An essential mineral, selenium activates the body’s immune system and regulates its function. It also promotes thyroid and reproductive function. To get more of it, eat foods like lean beef, tuna, mushrooms and Brazil nuts.

READ MORE: The 9 Best Vitamins For Strengthening Your Immune System And Warding Off Sickness

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