Give Your Immunity A Boost!
by Stefani Pappas on February 27, 2013 at 10:10 AM EDT

Think of your immune system as your own personal army - it protects and guards your body against attack from things like bacteria and viruses. The immune system can remember certain infections so it is ready to attack them the next time they are encountered. However, when your immune system is not functioning at the right level, it can’t do its job. Like every other bodily system, your immune system can in fact deteriorate if you don’t treat it well. Here are some quick and easy tips to help keep your immunity up during this flu-season.

You’d be surprised how much your diet can help in boosting your immune system. One of the best ways to optimize your immunity is toimmunity eat a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods. You should try to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which will give you a wide range of antioxidant protection. Gluthathione is regarded as one of the most important antioxidants and can be found in foods like asparagus, avocado, parsley and whey protein. Carotenoids, found in sweet potato, peaches, pumpkins, and other fruits and vegetables that are orange, red, yellow and dark green are also said to enhance immune function. Try to also incorporate selenium-rich foods such as brazil nuts, beef, oats, sunflower seeds and tuna.

There are extensive health dangers from eating an excessive amount of refined sugar. Usually, foods high in refined sugar lack minerals and vitamins, so they are essentially nutritionally deficient. What sugar does exactly is suppress the immune cells that specifically attack bacteria. Try to eliminate processed foods high in sugar such as fast food, candy, desserts, and sugary drinks like soda. Just doing this will help increase your energy level and strengthen your immunity.

Working out regularly is about much more than just losing weight and strengthening muscles. Even a moderate level of intensity can have lasting substantial benefits to both your immune system and antibodies. People who exercise regularly are about half as likely to catch a cold as those who do not. When you are at the gym, try to hit the sauna or steam room, which can work wonders in riding the body of toxicity.

Chronic stress can really impact your body’s ability to fend off disease and fight infection. Stress can alter the number of T cells that regulate your immunity. When you’re under stress, you are also much more likely to eat poorly and have trouble sleeping. Try incorporating yoga, journaling, listening to some relaxing music, or other activities that make you feel calm and relax you during the day.

One of my biggest struggles is getting enough sleep. There is a laundry list of studies that link lack of sleep with countless mental and physical health problems, including impaired immune function. Not only does lack of sleep make you more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus or bacteria, but it can also influence how fast you recover if you do get sick, prolonging the recovery process. Your risk for getting sick rises significantly if you sleep for under seven hours a night. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted when you sleep; furthermore, insufficient melatonin secretion is linked to decreased immunity. Exposure to light at night can interfere with melatonin production, so make sure that your bedroom is dark before you go to sleep.

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