Building Your Immune System
Your immune system does an amazing job of keeping illnesses at bay. Sometimes it fails and a that invades successfully makes you sick. How can you boost your immune system and intervene this process before it is too late? Can you make improved dietary changes or improve your lifestyle in the hope of producing a near perfect immune response?
What can you do to boost your immune system?
In order to function well, your immune system requires balance and harmony. This means a balance of a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, stress, and other factors on the immune response.
Adopt healthy-living strategies
By following a healthy living strategy is the single best step you can take toward supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system. The following guidelines help support a healthy immune system:
- Don't smoke.
- Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Get regular medical screening tests if you are in a risk category.
What about diet?
There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E, can have positive effects on your immune system.
The stress connection
Stress occurs when life events exceed your abilities to cope. It causes your body to produce greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
In short spurts, cortisol can actually boost your immunity by limiting inflammation. But over time, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood. Clinical immunologist, Leonard Calabrese, DO, says this opens the door for more inflammation and infection.
In addition, stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes (the white blood cells that help fight off infection).
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