How many of us can say that we can afford to waste time being unwell? Our time-deficient lives mean we could all do with a helping hand to defend ourselves against illness. Supplements tell us that they will ‘boost’ our immune system but are they really effective, or should we instead be adopting a healthier, reduced stress lifestyle to fight off illnesses? Looking after ourselves by naturally bolstering our immune systems is proven to provide inner harmony to our bodies. Simple lifestyle choices such as eating foods that are high in antioxidants, sleeping for longer, regularly taking time away – at a retreat or spa, and exercising can establish equilibrium to our body’s system. Here are six unhealthy habits to avoid and our tips on the best ways to increase immunity. Eating unhealthy Your diet is incredibly important to setting the right balance for your body. An unhealthy diet full of fat, additives, salt, and sugar means your body is working overtime to clean up and clear out. Consuming natural foods, such as fruit and vegetables, provides vital vitamins for our bodies to function and are the super antidote to avoiding illness. Other flu-fighting foods include: Probiotic yoghurt which includes live cultures that fight off germs in our gut. Fish is a food group which is associated with healthy living. Oily fish contains omega-3 fats, which protect against colds and respiratory infections. Oats and barley are proven to improve our immunity and even speed up the time it takes to repair wounds. Tea is full of antioxidants that are beneficial against fighting illness. Drinking both black tea and green tea provide protection. Garlic is a popular topic among researchers who have found it is the perfect remedy to killing a cold. It contains allicin that fights infection and bacteria. Mushrooms increase the productivity of white blood cells and studies have shown that they make them more aggressive at killing diseases. Immune boosting dish available at Peppers Craigieburn, Bowral , NSW Local Li Sun tunnel mushrooms and exotic mushrooms sautéed with garlic, served on toasted brioche and finished with a free-range poached egg. This carefully crafted dish from Executive Chef at Peppers Craigieburn, Warrick Brook , will give your immune system a much-needed boost and help fight against infection and diseases. Avoiding exercise Not getting enough exercise is proven to lower your immune system as the white blood cells in your body, which are programmed to fight off illness, are working at a snail's pace. You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic but regular physical activity is vital to staying healthy and warding off illness. Studies have shown that working out a least twice a week reduces the number of colds you contract throughout the year. Researchers have also found that with regular exercise your immune system is better equipped to handle the bacteria that makes you unwell. When you exercise, white blood cells are getting a boost and working more efficiently. Sleep deprivation Are we ever surprised when we don’t get enough sleep and then become ill? Longer sleep cycles are a fantastic way to increase our immunity. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is proven to be interconnected with a low immune system. The immune system is slowed down when our bodies are not properly rested and as a result are not functioning properly. Working with regular breaks and time away to clear the mind will increase your ability to achieve a perfect night’s sleep. Stress Stress on your mind and body can cause a negative impact on your immune system. Staying healthy and avoiding stress allows your body to function properly and continue to fight against illness. When we are stressed the cells that fight our diseases do not function properly and as a consequence do not perform their job. Relaxation techniques can be the ideal therapy to reducing stress – try a massage, yoga or meditation if you are struggling to control your stress levels. Low blood pressure Low blood pressure is bad news for your immune system. Fighting against diseases means those white blood cells need to be carried around the body in order to do their work. Keeping your heart healthy and staying strong, through healthy eating and regular exercise, can help to provide your body with the harmony it needs to keep you well. Drinking and smoking We are all too familiar with the notion that drinking and smoking are bad for us so it’s hardly surprising that they are particularly bad news for the immune system. There are thousands of toxins in cigarettes which affect our immunity by impairing the function of our white blood cells and lowering the count of cells. It’s why smokers are more susceptible to respiratory illness. Excessive alcohol consumption is also proven to destroy cells in the body that are helping fight disease. Again, like smokers, excessive drinkers are more likely to contract illnesses. Following a healthy lifestyle for you and your family is the best way to ward off illness and fight the flu. If you are looking for ways to boost your kids’ immunity then adopt some of these changes as a family. Look after your body as naturally as possible and it will look after you. If you are looking for a stress-relieving holiday where you can exercise in the pristine wilderness, Peppers Rundells Alpine Lodge in the Victorian Alps offers a full immune-boosting experience.