As we enter flu season, your immune system is more important than ever. It functions very much like your own personal army, guarding your body against attacks from invaders, defending against infections and even allergies. It also has a great memory, often “remembering” certain infections so it’s ready for them the next time they try to attack. But just like any other body system, your immune system can deteriorate if you don’t treat it well. This flu season, try these tips to naturally strengthen your immune system and keep it functioning at its best.
- Take Probiotics – The microbes that live in your gut not only help your body digest food — they also help regulate your metabolism, hunger, weight, and immune system. A strong immune system relies heavily on having a healthy, well-functioning gut. A whopping 70 percent of your immune system is in the gut and probiotics help keep your gut working smoothly. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
- Laugh Often – They say laughter is the best medicine and it just might be true. Research indicates that humor may increase immune function by increasing levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), a protein found in your eyes, ears, mouth, throat, and nose that protects against infection. (Many people who have a condition called selective IgA deficiency seem to be more susceptible to allergies and infections than others.) So, whether it’s a rom-com or a montage of silly pet videos on YouTube, watch something that will get you laughing right out loud.
- Meditate – Research has shown that high levels of stress can negatively impact your immune system putting you at risk of infection. Scientists suggest that stress upsets the balance of substances in your body that control the immune response. Some studies have found that meditation and yoga can have a positive effect on stress levels and can even reduce anxiety and pain.
- Exercise – Exercise improves your overall fitness, which can also boost your immune system. Some studies show that moderate intensity exercise may cut down the number of colds you get. That type of activity includes things like a 20-30 minute walk every day, going to the gym every other day or biking with your kids a few times a week.
In one study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, women who walked for a half hour every day for one year had half the number of colds as those who didn’t exercise. Researchers found that regular walking may lead to a higher number of white blood cells, which fight infections. In another study, scientists found that in 65-year-olds who did regular exercise, the number of T-cells was as high as those of people in their 30’s.
So, take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and go for a walk and get some exercise. There are numerous benefits to doing so including boosting your immune system so you might just avoid that next stuffy nose.