Posted on Oct 20, 2016, 6 a.m.
Top tips for boosting your immune system and increasing your chances of fighting off illness this season.
Good health is highly desired in today's world of high-stress careers, with little time to unwind between the many activities of daily life. With cold and flu season upon us, it pays to be proacitve, rather than relying on pharmaceutical cures to bring relief. Fortunately, there are options for boosting your immune system by eating properly, making some simple lifestyle changes, and filling the gaps with natural supplements. Below are listed powerful immune system boosters that can assist in preventing illness from occuring and, if you are unfortunate enough to succumb, shorten the duration of it's impact.
Foods and Supplements that Boost Immunity
Vitamin C - One of the first vitamins to be recognized as supporting the immune system is Vitamin C. Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in the vitamin, so at least three servings per day should be part of a healthy diet. Since it may not always possible to follow these guidelines, taking vitamin C supplements every day may be beneficial during cold and flu season.
Vitamin D - Many studies that have been conducted regarding influenza, have shown that people who have lower levels of vitamin D are more likely to get the flu. Since vitamin D levels are lowest for most people in the winter, and influenza occurs during the winter, it makes sense that vitamin D may be a factor that can affect chances of getting the flu.
Dark Chocolate - If you are like most people, you crave some chocolate now and then, and a limited amount of the delicious concoction is actually good for you. The darker the chocolate the better, with nutritionists recommending at least 70 percent or more cacao. Milk chocolate is tempting with its "melt-in-your-mouth" consistency, but its high concentration of fat and sugar reduces its health benefits.
Green Tea - Most people have likely heard of the health benefits of tea, and that is especially true of green tea. You may enjoy a morning cup of coffee, and the drink does supply some antioxidants that probably offer some support to your immune system. However, green tea is really a better choice for that energy burst you need in the morning, since it has a much higher level of antioxidants per cup.
Turmeric is a spice that has been used to flavor Indian foods for a few hundred years, and it contains curcumin which is a highly anti-inflammatory nutrient. The spice not only supports the immune system, but is also offers pain relief for arthritis sufferers. Injesting black pepper with turmeric is the best way to go, as the piperine in the pepper greatly increases the absorption of curcumin.
Reduce Your Stress With Lifestyle Changes
Immune Strengthening Behaviors
While eating a diet high in antioxidant rich foods goes a long way in strengthening the immune system, an overall lifestyle that reduces stress has also been shown to improve immunity and help one avoid many common health ailments. You may already include some of these immune strengthening behaviors in your life without thinking about the benefits they provide:
- Enjoy laughter with friends and family
- Include a pet in your life
- Take a positive view of life
- Develop a deep emotional and physical relationship
- Make sure to get adequate regular exercise
- Get sufficient rest
- Eliminate substances that are known to reduce your immunity
Smoking - Most people are aware of research that shows how harmful it is to smoke cigarettes, but they may be focused on avoiding the smoke that can damage your lungs. Nicotine in itself is a very harmful substance and diminishes the healthful benefits of Vitamin C and some other nutrients. If you are a smoker, stop smoking even though the process is likely to be difficult. The payoff is worth it.
Alcohol - Many do not believe that alcohol is harmful, so long as they do not become intoxicated, but women should limit themselves to no more than one drink per day. Men should limit themselves to no more than two. Regularly imbibing in alcoholic drinks can weaken your immune defenses and open the door to illness.
Enjoy a Healthier Life
Most of this advice is common sense, but when you consciously employ these strategies, you are more likely to enjoy a longer and healthier life. If you are feeling a little stressed because of your busy lifestyle, take a moment and consider which of these changes you can work into your routine. You may not notice an immediate difference, but your continued efforts are sure to be rewarded as time passes.