Staying healthy isn’t just about using hand sanitizer and avoiding coughing co-workers. Your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails. According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza viruses continue to wreak misery in 41 states. Got your flu shot? Good, do it again next year. Your immune system is responsible for defending you from disease-causing microbes and viruses. But sometimes it fails. Is it possible to intervene in this process and make your immune system stronger? Now, step beyond gratitude to optimize the function of that system.
Avoid tobacco use
The negative effects of smoking are well documented, with medical researchers all agreeing that tobacco products are bad news when it comes to overall health. It undermines basic immune defenses and raises the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia in everyone, and middle ear infections in kids. Tobacco products damage virtually every system of the body, and the immune system is no different.
Include garlic in your diet
Garlic is well known broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and immune booster. You should consume garlic often. Use it fresh or in your healthy dishes. But be aware to add it to foods just before serving because heat deactivates a key active ingredient in garlic.
Don’t drink alcohol
Too much alcohol is bad for your health. Excessive consumption impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to lung infections. So keep in mind to lower the consumption of alcohol.
Manage stress and get enough sleep
We know that when we don’t sleep enough and we are under stress our body increases the production of the hormone cortisol. It’s prolonged elevation suppresses immune function.
Use more probiotics
Probiotics, or the “live active cultures” found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Studies indicate supplements reduce the incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Fermented milk products have also been shown to reduce respiratory infections in adults and kids. They can also modulate the immune system, enhancing the body’s innate immunity. This modulating effect helps alleviate excessive inflammation in the gut, thereby boosting immune function.
Use plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds in your diet
They will provide your body with all the nutrients your immune system needs. They are rich in fibers minerals vitamins and omega acids which are good for your immune system. A study in older adults showed that boosting fruit and vegetable intake improved antibody response to the Pneumovax vaccine, which protects against Streptococcus pneumonia.
For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection. Eat medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake (sometimes sold as “hen of the woods”). A recent study showed that a concentrated extract of shiitake enhanced immune function in women with breast cancer.
When the body is exposed to sunlight your skin produces more vitamin D. In the summer, a 10-15 minute exposure (minus sunscreen) is enough. Low vitamin D levels correlate with a greater risk of respiratory infection. It id recommended about 1200 IU a day of supplemental vitamin D to reduced the risk of influenza A. But be aware that when the UV index is too high to keep yourself under the shadow.
People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that’s responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it, too.If you get recurrent infections, consider taking immune-supportive herbs such as eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticocus), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), or astragalus (A. membranaceus).
Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections. Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body.