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  Home » Newsletter » Ways to Boost Your Immune System to Fight Cold and Virus Season, January 2013
 

Ways to Boost Your Immune System to Fight Cold and Virus Season

Ways to Boost Your Immune System to Fight Cold and Virus SeasonIt’s that time of year when the battle is on to avoid catching the cold that’s been working its way around the office or the dreaded flu your child brought home from school. You feverishly wash your hands, use sanitizing gel and try to stay at a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. While these are useful tips, the best defense you have against catching this season’s nasty viruses is to boost your immune system. Not eating healthy foods, being sedentary, not getting enough sleep, and being under chronic stress can all contribute to a weak immune system. The result? You get sick.

Doctors are reporting a much higher than average outbreak of flu this winter throughout the US, and the peak is expected at the end of January and early February. The first line of defense against the flu is getting the flu vaccine. It’s important to remember, however, that the flu vaccine will NOT protect against every type of virus. There are many strains of the flu virus, and other viruses besides influenza that can result in influenza-like illness that spread during the flu season.

While there’s no single pill or supplement you can take to boost your immune system, adopting the following healthy living habits can help improve your immunity not only during the winter months but all year.  

Eat a Healthy Diet

Proper nutrition is essential for your immune system to work well. Avoid consuming too much alcohol, fatty foods and sugar. A diet rich in antioxidant vitamins, on the other hand, can boost resistance to infection. Many fruits and vegetables are packed with rich sources of antioxidants, especially the dark green, red, yellow, and orange-colored ones. The brighter and darker the color, the better. Try berries, citrus fruits, red grapes, broccoli, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots. Other immune-boosting foods include fresh garlic and mushrooms, which may have antiviral and antibiotic properties. Yogurt with live and active cultures packs a healthy dose of good bacteria that can protect the body against harmful bacteria.

Get Enough Sleep

The body uses sleep as a means of healing itself. When you don’t get enough sleep — at least 7 hours a night — healing is impaired. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. If you suffer from regular bouts of insomnia, or regularly go to sleep too late, you’re leaving your body vulnerable to catching any of the numerous virus bugs traveling around, not to mention a myriad of other health issues that are linked to a lack of recuperative sleep.

Get Moving

Exercise can keep you from getting sick by stimulating the immune cells that target cold infections. A University of South Carolina study found that people who walked or did other moderate exercise for 30 minutes several days a week, averaged one cold per year, while less-active people reported more than four colds per year. Be sure not to overdo it, however. Over-exerting yourself can stress your body’s system making viruses easier to attack your system.

Control Your Stress Through Meditation, Yoga and Other Mind and Body Therapies

Everyone experiences stress from time to time, yet, if your body is under chronic stress you’re more vulnerable to getting more illnesses and diseases. When you’re stressed, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, are constantly being released into your body, weakening the immune system. When your immune system is down, your body isn’t strong enough to fight cold and flu viruses. In addition, chronic stress can lead to heart disease and hypertension. Studies have shown that practicing regular mind and body therapies such as meditation can have many health benefits including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function. Regularly practicing yoga boosts the performance of the immune system by:

  • Improving circulation and oxygen flow
  • Helping in clearing out mucus from the lungs and sinuses
  • Increasing lung mobility
  • Stimulating all internal organs
  • Soothing the nervous system

While nothing can guarantee that you won’t get hit by a virus or cold strain this winter, keeping yourself healthy is key to prevention as well as making sure you have the strength to combat it as soon as possible if you do get sick.

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