- Eat a healthy diet
- Take care of your gut
- The more stressed you are, the more vulnerable you are to infection.
- Your body’s immune system is dependent on good quality sleep
‘Tis the season . . . of colds, flus and nasty germs. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to keep you safe from all the viruses floating around this time of year. Instead, it’s up to you to properly prepare your body to ward off those unwelcome intruders. Follow these guidelines to keep your immune system functioning at its prime to stay healthy this season.
1. EAT GOOD FOOD.
The first step to good health is a balanced diet. Eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, fats and proteins to give your body the micro and macronutrients it needs to function at its best.
To give your diet an extra immunity-boost, make sure to include these vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A: Vitamin plays a key role in fighting off infection (1). Include sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens such as kale, to get your daily dose.
- Vitamin B6: Not getting enough vitamin B6 can have a detrimental affect on your immune system (2). You can get vitamin B6 from some fish, beef liver and other organ meats. Vitamin B6 is also a key ingredient in Puori M3.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is well known to be an important player in the immune system. Recent research suggests it may even have a role in producing antimicrobial proteins, which destroy invading germs (3). The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, but in the colder and darker months, you may want to consider supplementation.
- Zinc: Zinc is essential to the function of immune system cells. You can include more zinc in your diet by eating oysters, red meat and poultry. Just like vitamin B6, zinc is also included in Puori M3.
2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR GUT.
Hippocrates once said, ‘all disease begins in the gut,’ and he might have been on to something. Researchers at Harvard Medicine School are finding evidence of a relationship between ‘good’ gut bacteria and the immune system.
Increase the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut by taking a probiotic and gut health.
3. CHILL OUT.
Feeling stressed about that upcoming presentation, or exam? This could make you more vulnerable to getting sick. Just what you need, right?
Researchers at Ohio State University suggest that stress affects the immune system by actually disrupting communication between the nervous system, hormonal system and immune system. This hurts your body’s ability to quickly recognize foreign infections, react to them and keep you from getting sick.
When you’re feeling stressed, take measures to try and calm yourself down. Take a walk with a friend, enjoy a warm bath with Epsom salts or try meditation. For more ideas, check out Greatist’s list of scientifically-backed ways to reduce stress.
4. SWEAT IT OUT.
If it wasn’t enough that regular exercise can decrease your chances of developing heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer, we now know that it can also help protect you from everyday bugs as well. Regular exercise has been shown to increase the production of macrophages, which are white blood cells that attack the kinds of bacteria that trigger colds. This enables your body to quickly identify and fight off bacteria that could make you sick.
You don’t have to be a marathoner or elite CrossFit athlete to get the positive benefits either. Moderate exercise such as daily 30-minute walks, going to the gym every other day, or even bicycling with your kids a few times a week is enough to get the blood pumping and help you stay healthy.
5. GET SOME SLEEP.
It’s simple. Your body relies on consistent and quality sleep to stimulate and power your immune system. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you are more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus such as the common cold.
If you struggle to get 7 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, try developing a new ‘bedtime ritual’ to prepare yourself for sleep. Limit your caffeine in the afternoon, turn off your electronics before bed and try to go to sleep at the same time every night to get your body and mind ready for the day ahead.
- Vitamin A and retinoic acid in T cell–related immunity. Ross, A.C., (2012)
- Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in critically ill patients. Cheng, C.H., Chang, S.J., Lee, B.J., Lin, K.L. and Huang, Y.C., (2006)
- Vitamin D and L-Isoleucine Promote Antimicrobial Peptide hBD-2 Production in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Elderly Individuals. Castañeda-Delgado J.E., et al. (2017)
- Exercise, inflammation, and innate immunity. Woods, J.A., Vieira, V.J. and Keylock, K.T., (2009)