Your immune system is important, especially during cold and flu season. It functions very much like your own personal army, guarding your body against attacks from invaders, defending against infections and even the latest cold going around. 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 cold and flu season, try these ways to naturally strengthen your immune system and keep it functioning at its best.
• Laughter – They say it’s the best medicine and it’s actually 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 than others.) So go ahead, have some friends over and watch the latest comedy on Netflix.
• Meditation – Research has shown that high levels of stress can worsen existing allergies. 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 – Getting in a good workout isn’t going to cure your cold, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can certainly minimize the effects of cold symptoms. You don’t have to hit the gym if that’s not your thing, you can go for a brisk walk before or after work or follow along with your favorite fitness instructor online. It always helps to have a friend join you – it makes working out more fun and holds you accountable.
• Healthy Gut – 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 engine running properly. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help reduce inflammation and prevent infection; they may also reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms.