It was bound to happen…cold and flu season hit our house. Both our girls came down with the bug this week and were out of school a few days. Which leads me to want to share a few things you can be doing to boost your immune system.
You depend on your immune system to fight off foreign substances that could make you sick and help you recover if any of them slip through. A healthy lifestyle strengthens your body’s defense network so you catch fewer colds and reduce your risk for many serious health conditions. Try these natural methods to boost your immune system and enjoy better health.
Foods and Eating Habits That Strengthen Your Immune System
- Fill up half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are what super foods are all about because they help prevent and repair cell damage. Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is the best way to meet your requirements for important nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Get enough zinc and selenium. Two other important antioxidants are zinc and selenium Good sources for zinc include seafood, beans, red meat, poultry, whole grains, nuts and dairy products. Selenium is also found in many foods like beef, poultry, tuna and whole grains.
- Watch your calories. Studies show that being overweight can depress your immune system. Excess fat cells are linked to chronic inflammation and decreased production of antibodies. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help fend off diabetes, heart disease and other threats.
- Limit sugars and fats. Diets high in sugar and saturated fats make your white blood cells less effective in guarding you against bacteria. Stick to sensible portions of healthy fats like olive oil and cut back on the soft drinks.
Other Constructive Lifestyle Changes
- Reduce stress. Chronic stress bombards your body with hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that interfere with your immune system. Find relaxation techniques that work for you like meditation or massage.
- Get adequate sleep and rest. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to keep their immune functions in top shape. As much as possible, go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Indulge in healthy pleasures. During exercise and enjoyable activities, your brain releases chemicals that reinforce good feelings and help trigger the production of IGA proteins that boost your natural defenses.
- Cultivate friendships. Social connections are essential to our physical health. The quality of friendships is more important than the quantity, so focus on whatever arrangements make you feel loved.
- Engage in regular exercise. People who exercise regularly produce more leukocyte cells so they have a better chance of avoiding infection. Moderate exercise is all it takes, so go for a walk for a half hour at least three days a week.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Repairing the damage from heavy drinking can weaken your immune system and make it more likely that you’ll succumb to any bug that’s going around. Play it safe by sticking to a daily maximum of two drinks for men and one for women.
- Consider herbal treatments. Medical experts caution that further research is needed, but people have been using herbs for centuries to promote good health. Work with an experienced practitioner, check references carefully and tell your doctor about any products you decide to take.
- Wash your hands frequently. The benefits of frequent and thorough hand washing are indisputable. Use soap and water or hand sanitizers to reduce the risk of infection for yourself and others.
Take care of yourself so your immune system can focus on unwanted invaders like germs and viruses. Simple steps like eating right and reducing stress will pay off in fewer sick days and may even extend your life by reducing your risk for cancer and other serious conditions. Add some of these immune-strengthening strategies to your life today.
Stay healthy out there!