Learn how to boost your immune system to fight against bacterial and viral infections.
Cold and flu season is here and it’s going to be a bad one this year. Is your body in shape to fight off viruses and fend off germs that could make you sick? If not, start with these 10 simple tips that boost your immune system to help you stay healthy all season long.
Some nutrients and foods that researchers believe may enhance the immune system are readily available in a variety of healthful foods. Try adding these immune-boosting items to your daily meals:
According to the National Institutes of Health, hormones (like cortisol) that hang around during chronic stress can put us at risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a variety of other illnesses. Take time out of your day to do a relaxing activity you enjoy, meditating, going for a walk, being out in nature or simply a taking a long luxurious soak in the bath.
An article in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research states that alcohol abuse can cause immunodeficiency, making you more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other communicable diseases.
But some reports still state that the moderate use of alcohol (one drink daily for women, and two for men) has not been associated with negative effects on the immune system but it does impact on your risk for cancer and other health problems.
Alcohol is a poison so really my advice if you want to be healthy and well is zero alcohol consumption.
Data from numerous studies show that regular exercise reduces the number of sick days. In three separate studies women who engaged in 35-45 minutes of walking, five days a week, for 12-15 weeks experienced a reduced number of sick days compared to the control (sedentary) group. A consistent fitness program may be your ticket to better health!
Water helps to cleanse the body and remove toxins, including germs. By keeping body systems, especially the respiratory system, well hydrated, you can enhance your virus-fighting potential. Aim for approximately 8 cups of good filtered water a day to help fend off germs.
According to authors of a sleep study published in 2001 in the journal Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, just a few days of sleep deprivation can be detrimental to one’s immune system.
The average adult should be getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, although some people need as few as 5 hours, while some need as many as 10 hours.
Make sure you avoid caffeine and other stimulants before going to bed to ensure that you will be well rested and try to get to bed early, around 9 pm, if you want to reap the most benefit. The body repairs and regenerates during sleep and produces melatonin which is not only a sleep hormone but the body’s most powerful antioxidant.
When you eat vegetables from the brassica family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage, they produce a chemical that can stop the growth of cancer cells and boost your immune system, according to research published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Choose a variety of veggies, including broccoli, to meet your daily quota.
In an older but still relevant study published in the 1983 edition of the Medical Journal of Australia, immune system markers in 35 smokers were analysed before they quit smoking and then again three months after they had quit. Compared with a control group who continued to smoke, the ex-smokers had significant, positive changes in many measurements of their immune systems. Smoking and using tobacco products contributes to a host of health problems, and this is one more you can add to your list for reasons to quit.
Research performed by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine has shown that obesity prevents the immune system from functioning properly, increasing its vulnerability to infection. In the study, obese mice were 50 percent less capable of killing the flu virus, compared to lean mice. The researchers believe that the same holds true in humans. Also carbohydrate consumption especially sugar negatively impacts on your immune health.
When you’re exercising, intensity matters. Your workouts don’t have to be strenuous to provide immune-enhancing benefits. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that upper respiratory infections were more common among athletes during heavy training. So if you want to stay fit and well exercise gently.
Whatever you do, listen to your body and if you’re under the weather already, take it easy until you feel better.