“You never want to wake up sick 1 day and find out you will never get better” — Paul Ebeling
We can bolster our health and help ward off illness by developing daily habits that boost our immune system.
According to Dr. Erica Brownfield, MD, at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, our immune system takes care of a lot of things naturally. “Even if exposed to the flu, we do not have to get it,” she says. While prevention is still the best strategy to stay healthy, it is hard not to encounter germs. “Wash your hands frequently,” she says.
Here are tips on how to keep our bodies ready for action, as follows:
- Eat vegetables and fruit. Fuel your immune system with a rainbow of vegetables to get maximum antioxidant protection. The more colorful, the better, to obtain vitamins A, C, and E along with beta-carotene. Dr. David Friedman, a best-selling author and integrative physician, particularly recommends bell peppers. “Bell Peppers are very high in vitamin C and just one provides 170% of the recommended daily allowance,” he says. “Vitamin C helps build up your immune system, which is why many healthcare providers recommend taking this vitamin at the first sign of a cough, cold, or flu.” Vitamin C from bell peppers is helpful in the production of white blood cells, which is the body’s major defense against disease. He says that yellow and red peppers have even more antioxidant benefits than green peppers.
- Exercise. Every time you work out, we boost our immune system. Aim for a daily 30-min walk as the minimum requirement for adequate exercise to promote good health. According to Harvard Medical School, a study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 mins a day, 5 days a wk, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, their illness was less severe.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults require between 7 to 8 hrs of sleep nightly. “A lack of quality sleep not only affects how we feel during the daytime, but can also exacerbate health issues,” said Dr. Matthew Schmitt, who specializes in sleep medicine at Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia. Our cells and tissues repair themselves during the night and it is also the time our bodies manufacture human growth hormone that helps bone growth.
- Reduce stress. According to AARP, too much stress suppresses the immune system, not what we want with the flu and cold season approaching. Experts suggest practicing yoga or meditation. Adults who learned mindfulness training were 20% less likely to experience respiratory infections, according to 1 study.
- Socialize. In today’s world, it is still important to get together with friends and family, but in a safe way. AARP recommends virtual or outdoor gatherings. There is emerging evidence that social isolation and loneliness increase inflammation in the body.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively