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Pump Up Your Immune System

Secrets to staying healthy
Pump Up Your Immune System: Main Image
A good multivitamin may help

It's true that you are what you eat, but your health is also a reflection of what you do. That’s why making healthy lifestyle choices can drastically affect your ability to keep illness at bay. So consider the following to support your immune-system strength:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine, and sugar
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Drink lots of water (buy or bottle your own for easy access)
  • Don’t miss meals

Take your vitamins

Even if you never eat junk food or miss meals, your body may still need a bit of help getting all the nutrients it needs to stay strong, because many of the refined foods in a typical Western diet have been depleted of various vitamins and minerals. This is where a good multivitamin may help. In addition, boosting your intake of the nutrients below may help prevent marginal deficiencies that could lower your immune system defenses, potentially making you more susceptible to infections:

Chill out

Excessive stress may lead to suboptimal immune system function, potentially making the body less able to fend off everything from bacteria and viruses to serious diseases. Finding ways to relax is an important part of a well-rounded health program. Give the following a try:

Whatever you choose, look for activities—or nonactivities—that give you a real break from everyday work and home obligations.

Catch some Zs

Skimping on sleep can undercut your immune defenses, so be sure to snooze a full eight hours a night. If you can’t get a full night’s sleep because of time constraints, try to squeeze in a 15- to 30-minute nap during the day. Although not as beneficial as nighttime rest, if you are rundown, a nap might help stave off illness. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying that way, try some remedies for insomnia.

Build good bacteria

Healthy probiotic bacteria stimulate the intestine’s immune system and slow the growth of infectious organisms in the digestive system. Good sources of healthy bacteria are yogurt and other foods containing live cultures, and supplements containing 10 billion colony-forming units a day of acidophilus or bifidobacteria.

Try taming tonics

Miraculously, tonics are believed both to energize your system when it’s low and to protect it when it’s over-stimulated. That is the beauty of adaptogens, also known as tonics. Essentially, adaptogens may help keep the immune system in balance and help spare vital tissues from stress-induced damage. Examples include:

Linda Knittel, MA, is a nutritional counselor and health writer. When feeling under the weather, she drinks an extra gallon of water and gets an extra hour of sleep.

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