Four key tips to boost immunity. Defend yourself from the...

Four key tips to boost immunity. Defend yourself from the…

  • October 21, 2020

CThere are still no fully effective drugs or vaccines to protect us from the new coronavirus, somehow combatit depends on each person’s responsiveness to Covid-19, as explained in a report by BBC News Brasil.

For this very reason, having strong immunity is essential to prevent and fight the virus, as well as for the recovery of the patient.

According to several experts, in an interview with BBC, there are four pillars of “good immunity”, namely: eating healthy eating, sleeping enough hours, exercising regularly and avoiding and reducing stress levels.

Understand how immunity is affected

Ana Caetano Faria, full professor of Immunology Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and specialist from the Brazilian Society of Immunologyexplains that when we sleep insufficient hours, eat unhealthy food, are sedentary and live in constant stress and anxiety, our system immune suffers the consequences.

“All of these pillars are important, but I emphasize the need to sleep well. It is during sleep that we have the largest production of defense cells by the marrow. bone. Studies show that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of developing respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, by four times. ” BBC.

However, when we exercise – without exaggeration – the body releases hormones that contribute to the regulation of the immune system. When controlling stress, the body refrains from producing substânces that harm you. And the consumption of a balanced diet, provides the necessary energy for the great functioning of our defenses, explains the teacher.

After all, what is a balanced diet?

A BBC News Brasil interviewed nutritionist Julia Branches, who explained that “there is no food or vitamin to fight the new coronavirus. But obviously, when the system immune this active and healthy, will help fight the combat-the”.

Follow the expert’s tips:

1. Prepare colorful dishes

Branches recommends eating about ten servings of 80 grams a day, seven of vegetables and three of fruit, of different colors.

“Every color of food reflects the kind of micronutrients that has. I challenge my patients to put at least five colors on the plate “.

Regarding the micronutrients, the nutritionist places special emphasis on zinc and selenium.

“Zinc is found in red meats and chicken liver. Also in oysters”.

However, the selenium it is present in nuts and wheat flour.

Branches it also advises to eat smaller amounts of simple carbohydrates, such as white rice, white bread and cakes and to give priority to complex carbohydrates, that is, the integral versions of these foods.

2. Don’t forget “vitamins antioxidants

According to the nutritionist, vitamins A, C, D and E are extremely important – again, abundant especially in vegetables and fruits.

3. Take care of the intestine

A microbiota intestinal affects immunity as such Branches reinforces the importncia eating fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

4. Reduce the consume of alcohol and salt

“THE alcohol and excess salt can be harmful to the immune system. Its consumption must be done in moderation “, warns the nutritionist.

According to a study by the Medical School of the University of Massachusetts, in the United States, the excessive consumption of alcohol impairs the body’s ability to fight viral infections, especially the respiratory system.

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Tips for Healthy Eating During Pandemic – NBC Los Angeles

Tips for Healthy Eating During Pandemic – NBC Los Angeles

  • October 20, 2020

Since a vaccine is still in the works to combat COVID-19, we’re left trying just about anything to stay as healthy a possible during a pandemic. One thing that everyone can all do, however, is to boost their immune system with healthy foods.

Health professionals tell NBC 7 if someone gets COVID-19 or the flu, or even both, it’ll most likely be much easier to recover if they’ve been eating foods rich in nutrients

These are immune-boosting foods that can help prepare your body to fight off a virus, cold or flu. Those who have a nutrient-packed diet will also find they sleep better and have more energy since they’re consuming the right minerals.

Nutritionists suggest you load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins for dietary success.

It’s also best to plan for groceries so that it could result in purchases of fewer processed, high-salt or high-sugar snacks.

“Processed foods in general, it’s basically synthetic. It’s made from a machine,” said Dr. Amy Lee, who is an expert in weight control, obesity and nutrition. “It’s nothing natural that we actually garden and plant and harvest. So our human bodies basically have to get used to and adapt to all these new synthetic ingredients that we weren’t used to before.”

Lee also suggests families create a schedule or a daily meal plan. A schedule is more predictable for everyone in a household and it can get all involved so they feel connected to the effort in some way, creating motivation.

You can also manage your environment to improve your diet.

If candy and chips aren’t in the kitchen cabinet, then you can’t eat them.

It’s also very important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Health experts recommend that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, but if you’re outside a lot or exercising, it should be more. Stay healthy!

Tips for Heating During Pandemic – NBC 7 San Diego

Tips for Heating During Pandemic – NBC 7 San Diego

  • October 20, 2020

Since a vaccine is still in the works to combat COVID-19, we’re left trying just about anything to stay as healthy a possible during a pandemic. One thing that everyone can all do, however, is to boost their immune system with healthy foods.

Health professionals tell NBC 7 if someone gets COVID-19 or the flu, or even both, it’ll most likely be much easier to recover if they’ve been eating foods rich in nutrients

These are immune-boosting foods that can help prepare your body to fight off a virus, cold or flu. Those who have a nutrient-packed diet will also find they sleep better and have more energy since they’re consuming the right minerals.

Nutritionists suggest you load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins for dietary success.

It’s also best to plan for groceries so that it could result in purchases of fewer processed, high-salt or high-sugar snacks.

“Processed foods in general, it’s basically synthetic. It’s made from a machine,” said Dr. Amy Lee, who is an expert in weight control, obesity and nutrition. “It’s nothing natural that we actually garden and plant and harvest. So our human bodies basically have to get used to and adapt to all these new synthetic ingredients that we weren’t used to before.”

Lee also suggests families create a schedule or a daily meal plan. A schedule is more predictable for everyone in a household and it can get all involved so they feel connected to the effort in some way, creating motivation.

You can also manage your environment to improve your diet.

If candy and chips aren’t in the kitchen cabinet, then you can’t eat them.

It’s also very important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Health experts recommend that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, but if you’re outside a lot or exercising, it should be more. Stay healthy!

Stay Healthy During College: 5 Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Tips

Stay Healthy During College: 5 Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Tips

  • October 20, 2020

Students attending college in 2020 are facing challenges unknown to previous generations. With the presence of COVID-19 still impacting the educational experiences of students, many are wondering how to stay healthy during college.

Of course, that means wearing a face mask, washing your hands, and observing appropriate physical distancing. But a complete picture of health means more than that! As one study in Psychiatry Research found, the pandemic has led to increased mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. You may be experiencing this yourself.

Thankfully, students can adopt several habits to stay healthy during college, no matter where they are learning. Here are five tips that can help you maintain mental, physical, and spiritual health every day and during times of heightened stress.

Ways to improve your immunity against Coronavirus

Ways to improve your immunity against Coronavirus

  • October 16, 2020
While the country is grappling with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been shown through research that the process of combating the ill effects of the disease goes much beyond clinical support. An individual’s immunity and ability to tackle a health hazard is directly proportional to his/her immunity and nutritional status.

Our immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues and organs that band together to defend your body against foreign invaders – like germs, viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune system protects us by creating a barrier that stops those invaders from entering our body. Hence with the advent of COVID-19, the role of a healthy immune system plays the role of a savior. Nutrition, choice of foods and lifestyle is decisive to an excellent health at all stages of life.

There can be ways to work on improving your immunity at home by inculcating the following practices in our lifestyle.

1. Eat right from the start:

Healthy and balanced nutrition should be inculcated from childhood. Once your child is 12 months old, they’ll be eating more of the foods that adults eat. Eating a healthy diet sets a good example for your children. It’s important for children and adults alike to limit foods that are high in sodium, unhealthy fats and added sugars.

When you are planning your meal for the whole family, try to add all types of food groups in your food plate, such as carbohydrates, add whole wheat or mixed grain chapati or hand-pounded rice. For protein, calcium add milk, curd, paneer, pulses, legumes, egg, chicken, fish. For healthy fats add olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, almond, walnut etc. For vitamins, minerals and antioxidants add colourful fruits and vegetables and also add prebiotic foods like yogurt and probiotic milk. Hydration is also paramount in the healthy working of the body. This type of diet can fulfil all the nutritional requirements of your body without any supplementation.

2. Rainbow food palette:

Foods have phytochemicals present in them that determine their colour. These are nothing but antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that provide nutrition to your body and help build immunity. Every natural colour given by nature to fruits and vegetables possesses special phyto nutrients that are specific to that colour. Hence, including foods from various colour families to your meals will ensure no important nutrient is missed out from your diet. Following a rainbow diet is easy as you can find many food alternatives in a colour family and it does not involve following unrealistic diet trends. Not only do the colours provide special nutrients but the vibrancy of the palette is also a mood booster!

Include foods from families of red, blue, green, yellow, orange and white in your diet to increase immunity.

4. Mindful eating:

Inadequate nutrition has been linked to lower resilience for fighting diseases and being an easy target for infections and viruses. Nutrients contribute to our overall health. Their intake in sufficient and right amounts is paramount to the well-being of the mind and body. However, getting engrossed in your screens while having meals can be a disaster, despite the nutrients you are having in your meals as you are unaware of the quantity intake. This habit leads to overeating. To curb this, one needs to be vigilant and peaceful while eating and not indulge in any activity during that time. Believe and follow “Mindful Eating”- enjoy the taste of food, restrict the portions and chew well for good gut health and proper absorption of nutrients. Avoid watching digital screens or reading while eating meals. It helps is coping with physical or mental stress during tough times and is especially necessary at this crucial time.

4. Plant-based eating:

Plant based eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Following this, you avoid food which is high in calorie, simple carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and high levels of sodium that can give you obesity and other health-related issues.

● Try to avoid table salt, replace it with lemon or herbs.

● Avoid packaged and processed food and snacks such as chips, namkeen, biscuits, rusk, burger, pizza. Try to take home-cooked snacks such as homemade roasted chana or roasted foxnut

● Avoid fizzy and carbonated drinks and replace them with nimbu pani, jaljeera, salted buttermilk.

We should remember that one of the most effective ways to combat viral infections, including COVID-19, lies in the optimal combination of diet and immunity. We should all contribute our bit to the ecosystem to uplift the health condition of the community as a whole.

Inputs by Vandana Luthra, Founder and Co-Chairperson, VLCC Group

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis during a hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)

Dr. Fauci’s 3 Tips For Healthy Living Will Help Your Immune System Function Optimally

  • October 15, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis during a hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 31: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis during a hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch – Pool/Getty Images)

Chances are your searches for “How to boost my immune system?” have increased over the recent months and weeks as we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic and enter cold and flu season, and rightfully so. Good thing Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, shared tips you can implement into your daily routine to strengthen your immune system and hopefully ward off the coronavirus.

In an interview with Business Insider, Dr. Fauci said, “Sometimes people, when they don’t get out in the sun a lot, they’re deficient in vitamin D.” He went on to explain that research has shown that those with low levels of vitamin D “have more of a propensity to get infected when there are infections around.” Dr. Fauci also made one thing clear: taking numerous multivitamins and herbs “really doesn’t boost immunity.”

To get your immune system to functional optimally, Dr. Fauci instead recommends getting enough sleep – most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night – following a good diet (choose one you enjoy!), and trying to avoid and alleviate stress as it can negatively impact your immune system. “That is much more healthy living than giving yourself supplements of anything,” he said.

You can start implementing these three tips today by getting into bed a little earlier than normal, making sure your meals contain nutritious foods, and using tools like meditation, journaling, yoga, exercise, and talking to loved ones or a professional mental health expert to reduce any stress you may be experiencing.

Tips from leading nutritionist Barbara Cox to ward off covid

Tips from leading nutritionist Barbara Cox to ward off covid

  • October 14, 2020

If you’re healthy you’ve got a sporting chance at business and at life. Entrepreneur of the Year winner 2008, Barbara Cox merges the worlds of business and nutrition and takes ten minutes to dispense some vital knowledge to Business Matters readers.

No stranger to the business world, the chances are high that you’ve already enjoyed some of her products without even knowing it. She designed and launched the first flapjack protein bar which was snapped up by Selfridges before launching her nutritional meal delivery service nationwide. Both of these set the trend for the following fifteen years of easy protein fixes and subscription based businesses.

Today she works as a nutrition consultant and wellness coach as well as sitting on many lifestyle advisory boards across the UK and Europe. After discussing how important the need is for business owners everywhere to boost their immune system to maintain control of their health and business, she shared the following insights, all designed for Business Matters reader’s to be easily implemented and help to guard against winter colds and covid.

After studying the research, Barbara has compiled her top 5 tips that you can action right now, to boost your immune system. Since 2004, Barbara’s ethos has been to ‘protect & correct’ so make sure you have a Covid19 strategy ready for protecting against the virus and the right things on hand in case you catch it …

Drink plenty of water, the right kind of water

You’ve probably heard it before: we’re composed of 70 to 80% water – it’s true! As well as being the main component of blood and other body fluids, water plays a vital role in maintaining correct body temperature and flushing toxins out of the body. You should aim to drink at least two litres a day.

She advises that you be choosy with your quality of water and be careful of water filters that can cause more issues than prevent them. For example, the Brita water filter pitcher uses an activated carbon filter that removes chlorine, zinc, copper, cadmium and mercury, however, it doesn’t remove all nitrates, dissolved minerals or bacteria or viruses in water. These pass freely through the filter.

After researching it thoroughly she recommends the best, safest and most cost-effective water filtration bottle called Puritii that the Armed Forces are currently using.

Eat plenty of fruit and veg

Fruit and vegetables are simply the best kinds of food for us. They provide a variety of essential minerals and vitamins and fruit and vegetables contain pigments such as carotenes and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that provide significant protection that can support the respiratory system which is attacked by the virus and naturally boost our immune system and helping the recovery process after illness too.

Aim to incorporate these 10 super immune boosting foods in your diet weekly:

Shiitake Mushrooms

Blueberries

Mango

Curcuma Root (fresh turmeric)

Goji Berries

Blackberries

Kelp

Pomegranate

Green Tea

Pear

She recommends meal planning to make sure you’re getting a huge variety of food in your weekly meals.

Consume fish and fish oils

As well as providing us with nucleic acids needed for cells to thrive, fish naturally provides oils which neutralise harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that rip parts off healthy molecules – such as DNA – often leading to reduced immune system and leading to disease.)

Great choices of oily fish are wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and trout. Vegetarian sources are walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.

Try aromatherapy

There is growing concern that topical use of chemicals in our personal care products can make their way into our blood stream and cause allergies and reactions leading to an impaired immune system. I personal try to use non-toxic alternatives where possible.

I adore aromatherapy to naturally enhance my immune system, freshen and disinfect my home and build a natural defence barrier as a natural hand-wipe and to inhale when travelling on public transport, planes, visiting hospitals or crowded shopping areas.

Get your sunshine vitamin

In normal circumstances, sunshine, not food, is where most of your vitamin D comes from. So even a healthy, well-balanced diet, that provides all the other vitamins and nutrients you need, is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D if you aren’t able to get enough sun. People with vitamin D deficiency may need supplements. A review of 25 studies found vitamin D supplements can help protect against acute respiratory infections, particularly among people who are deficient. Take a walk in the sunshine daily for at least 10 minutes to keep that vitamin D topped up, if this is not possible, then take a look at supplementation.

A note on supplements. It’s important to consult your doctor if you’re already taking other medications before trying new additions to your regime. If you get the ‘all clear’ from them, you need to ensure that you source bona fide supplements. Barbara knows the exact ones to purchase for those who need an extra boost and might not have the time to research all the best products, manufacturing certificates of those products and EU compliance. Please contact her through www.barbaracox.me In the meantime, keep building that resilience.


Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.

Un-Sheltering Tips for Your Health and Immune System

Un-Sheltering Tips for Your Health and Immune System

  • October 8, 2020

As we all emerge from our bubbles of limited contact with others, we are walking straight into the double whammy of flu season COVID-19 germs. Can your body fight off exposure to the flu and COVID? Your immune system feeds off the basics of life — sleep, movement, food and love. So, give your immune system all the help it needs by following expert advice. 

Sleep: Hit the snooze button. (You know you want to) 

Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on an already-shot immune system, Freida Wiley, PharmD, told Medshadow. 

Some drugs will put you to sleep, but all sleeping aides come with side-effect risks. If you think you’ve tried everything, but you haven’t tried some of those tips on the list below, keep trying, Dave Walker, RPH and a MedShadow Medical Advisory Board member, told MedShadow:

  • Avoid caffeine or other stimulants, such as caffeinated tea or energy drinks and chocolate 
  • Get exercise, like walking or cycling 
  • Don’t take daytime naps
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Know that medicines you take can affect sleep patterns
  • Don’t use electronics with a screen (such as a smartphone or tablet) an hour before going to bed
  • Try sleep-inducing meditation audio tapes or apps 
  • …Drink a cup of warm milk before bed (really, it works!)

If you’re still not sleeping, check in with your doctor about any medicines or supplements you take. Insomnia could be one of a drug’s side effects. If that’s the case, ask your doctor if you can cut back on it, or stop using it altogether, or opt for an alternative med that works just as well without keeping you awake. 

Walker noted that some medications, including corticosteroids, thyroid hormones and certain blood pressure medicines, may lead to changes in your regular sleep pattern. Physical or medical conditions, such as headaches, allergies and upper respiratory conditions or conditions causing pain, can impair your sleep, too.

Exercise: it doesn’t have to be painful 

A 2019 review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that moderate exercise can boost your immune system’s defense activity and metabolic health. By keeping your immune system healthy, you increase your chances of warding off viruses — COVID-19 and others.  Even better, exercise remains one of the most effective (and science-backed) ways to do so. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services suggests a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. 

Try walking: it’s free and you already know how to do it. 

If you’re out of shape, walking is a safe and very effective way to engage all the parts of your body, including your cardiovascular system. New Yorker Peter Filichia hadn’t exercised in years. But when the COVID-19 shut down began, he decided to avoid public transportation and chose to walk four miles to and from his girlfriend’s apartment daily. Peter said, “At first it was difficult, four miles is a long way! Now I hate to miss a day. I’ve lost 37 pounds, [and I] get outside and get to see Linda!” 

Ready for a workout? Our Andrew Gutman, MedShadow’s content manager, demonstrates an at-home workout you can modify based on your fitness level. {Link to IGTV video}  “… training starts where you are. If you’ve never lifted a weight or if you’ve been training for years, this activity will adapt to your needs,” Matt Pudvah, Head strength coach of the Sports Performance Institute at the Manchester Athletic Club in Massachusetts, told MedShadow. 

Bonus: you’ll sleep better if you get moving. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 150,000 participants, found that those who did any exercise, no matter how light, reported significantly better sleep than non-exercisers. 

Eating: you do it anyway, make sure you do it well

Find immune system magic in citrus (vitamin C- rich foods), such as oranges, sweet and hot peppers, kiwi and grapefruit; ginger — for use in cooking, teas and smoothies, turmeric — which offers strong anti-inflammatory benefits, and a spice commonly found in Thai and Indian curry dishes and in teas, suggests Alison Acerra, RDN, founder of Strategic Nutrition Design and a Medshadow Medical Advisory Board member.

Be wary of elderberry extract, which is becoming popular for its immune-boosting benefits. While it has, in fact, proven effective against influenza (by way of a big increase in cytokine production), “cytokine storm” or very high cytokine production has been implicated in severe Covid-19 cases. For this reason, it’s probably safer to avoid it during the pandemic.

“If you’re eating fresh, raw or lightly steamed vegetables, you’re helping your body fight all sorts of diseases and keeping your immune system healthy,” Kelly Turner, PhD, says. 

“Let’s face it,” Acerra adds, “there may be a little stress eating [going on] in these times. It’s normal and to be expected. No need to beat yourself up, but do be mindful of the impact of added sugar and processed carbs. They might cause rapid blood sugar fluctuations that leave you exhausted and depleted.”

Feed your biome Research shows your gut biome has loads of importance in building a healthy immune defense that helps ward off opportunistic pathogens, says Acerra. She believes that feeding a “good-gut” means increasing the count of beneficial bacteria in your stomach, (with probiotics) and feeding those probiotics to maintain high counts (with prebiotics). Examples of probiotics include fermented foods, such as custom-made (not store-bought), kimchi and sauerkraut (with fermented cabbage), miso, pickles (prepared without vinegar), kefir, yogurt and tempeh (fermented soybean). Some examples of prebiotics are any foods that contain fiber (PLANTS!), and there are many that fit the bill — whole grains, fruits and veggies, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. 

Love and companionship

You don’t need a study to tell you that friends and companionship keep you healthy (but there are studies that do show that). Now is a tough time to make new friends, but there are friends waiting for you — pets. 

New Yorker Theo van der Meer found the pandemic to be the perfect time to adopt a dog. “Since I had to work from home, I could be attentive to a new puppy with all his energy and need for attention. Now we’ve been sheltering for six months and I’ve had time not only to bond with and train my new best friend, but also get outside more often for walks.”

Owning a pet can decrease blood pressure, lower triglyceride levels and even force you outside, according to the CDC. The health-related benefits of having a dog or cat, for example, are so vast that there is an entire branch of interventional pet therapies for everything from depression to mobility issues, points out Penny Martin, an advocate for rescue dogs. 

The take-away from all this? When it’s time to step out of the sheltered existence you’ve been living in and mingle with the world again, you can boost your odds of remaining healthy by doing what you want to do anyway — sleep well, eat well, move around a lot and keep your friends, or pets, close.

These Expert-Approved Tips Will Help You Fight Colds and COVID-19 and Boost Your Immune System

These Expert-Approved Tips Will Help You Fight Colds and COVID-19 and Boost Your Immune System

  • October 5, 2020
Cropped shot of an attractive young woman drinking tea while relaxing at home
Cropped shot of an attractive young woman drinking tea while relaxing at home

It’s officially cold and flu season, and coupled with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be feeling stressed and worried about getting sick. You’ve probably heard people say that in order for your body to have the best chance at fighting off viruses like the flu and COVID-19, you should focus on “boosting” your immune system. This isn’t entirely wrong, but unfortunately, taking one millennial-friendly packaged supplement here and there won’t do the trick.

What Is the Immune System and What Does It Do?

Before going any further, it’s important to know what your immune system is and its purpose. “Our immune system is essentially a system in our body to allow us to stay healthy, fight infections, and to heal when we come in contact with viruses, pathogens, or if we simply just get ill,” Nicole Avena, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told POPSUGAR. Our immune system keeps us safe and well, “and a lot of things go into making it function well,” Dr. Avena said. Your diet and nutrition, stress, sleep, and exercise all impact how well our immune system works. And for some, it just comes down to genetics.

How to Strengthen Your Immune System

Making changes to your lifestyle such as getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night and reducing your stress are two proven ways to improve your immunity as poor sleep and high levels of stress negatively impact our body’s ability to fight infection, Dr. Avena explained. “And so I tell people, ‘Don’t worry so much about taking a supplement, or taking some special tea, or whatever latest drink is going to affect your immune system. It’s really just a matter of just trying to chill out and get more rest,'” she explained.

Adults should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night, because when we don’t get enough sleep, “our body is essentially having to work overtime during our waking hours just to keep it functioning correctly,” Dr. Avena explained. Caffeine can make you feel like you’re functioning great, but ultimately, a lack of sleep means the resources that would go to helping your body be prepared to fight diseases, conditions, and pathogens is directed toward helping you get through the day. It’s like playing a team sport but being short a few players, Dr. Avena said. You may be able to win (in this case fight off illness and pathogens), but it’s going to be a lot harder.

Related: Vitamin D Is Key to a Healthy Immune System, and These 7 Foods Have It in Spades

Vitamin D-Rich Foods For Immunity
Vitamin D-Rich Foods For Immunity

The same goes for stress. If you’re experiencing chronic stress, your hormones, specifically cortisol (aka the stress hormone), can be impacted, which can lead to more problems that can be “disruptive to your immune system,” Dr. Avena said. “So the stress, I think, is really something that can be difficult for a lot of people to manage, but it’s very important to keep under control, because it can really open a Pandora’s box of problems when it comes to helping support your immune system.”

In addition to getting more sleep and reducing your stress levels, exercise can also help support your immune system, according to Dr. Avena. When you exercise, your body gets stronger. Dr. Avena explained that the better shape you’re in, the easier it is for you to exist, meaning your body doesn’t have to work as hard to make sure your joints and cardiovascular system, for example, are functioning at an optimum level. The best part is, any type of movement will help strengthen your immune system. You can run, you can walk, you can do 10 minutes of stretching – “it all counts toward helping to keep you in shape and to keep your immune system being able to function as best it can,” Dr. Avena said.

What Foods Can Help Strengthen Your Immune System

Food can also impact how well your immune system functions, but there isn’t an exact list of items you should eat to improve your immunity. Dr. Avena recommends limiting the amount of processed, high-salt, and high-sugar foods you’re consuming. “All those things are going to have a negative impact on our health, and in turn, on our immune system,” she said. You can still have foods like donuts and chips, but like most things, it’s about balance. Dr. Avena emphasized getting a range of nutrients in your body and not following restrictive diets as they can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can have a negative impact on how your immune system functions.

Consuming foods that naturally contain vitamin C (citrus fruits, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, for example) and zinc (red meat, legumes, and nuts and seeds) can help. If you aren’t getting these nutrients from food sources, supplementing with vitamin C and zinc can work, Dr. Avena said. When possible, she recommends trying to get these nutrients from food as your body will absorb and utilize them better. Taking a single supplement won’t suddenly boost your immune system, and Dr. Avena recommends taking a holistic approach and making lifestyle changes in order for your immune system to function well.

Getting more sleep, reducing stress, exercising, and eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods, are your best bet if your goal is to have a stronger immune system. “You might find that you’re able to accomplish what you need to do for your health just by making the lifestyle changes in and of themselves,” Dr. Avena said. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns about your health, consult a medical expert such as your primary care doctor.

Tips to help avoid getting sick as cold and flu season approaches

Tips to help avoid getting sick as cold and flu season approaches

  • October 2, 2020

Are you ready for the cold and flu season? Be prepared and make sure you’re setting your immune system up for success, a doctor advises.

Are you getting enough vitamin D? It might help keep you from getting sick. Combine the upcoming cold and flu season with the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s never been more important to have a strong immune system.

“Vitamin D is one of the things we really want to make sure we get enough of, especially now,” assistant professor of neuroscience Dr. Nicole M. Avena said. “It’s really one of the critical nutrients that helps to support and boost our immunity.”

Avena, who has a doctorate in neuroscience and psychology, teaches at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is a visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University.

“A lot of people are deficient in vitamin D and don’t even realize it,” she said.

And in winter months, people get less vitamin D naturally from the sun. Signs of vitamin D deficiency include lethargy — feeling tired.

“Also, when you have low vitamin D, it puts you at risk for having issues related to calcium absorption,” which puts you more at risk for broken bones, or improper healing of fractures, Avena said.

To help ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and micronutrients you need to stay healthy, Avena recommends eating a wide variety of different fruits, vegetables and proteins.

“If we’re deficient in one or more micronutrients, then our body has to work harder to make up for that deficiency,” Avena said. “We have a really effective immune system that can work really, really well if our body doesn’t have to be devoting its resources to other aspects of our health.”

If you can’t get the nutrition you need from food alone and your doctor OKs supplements, there are lots of options to swallowing potentially big pills. There are gummies, liquids and sublingual options that dissolve under your tongue.

Your lifestyle also can influence whether your immune system is strong.

Are you getting enough rest? One bad night isn’t such a big problem, but Avena said sleep deficits over time can compromise your immune system.

“We need to be getting the appropriate amount of sleep every night so our body can be rested and it can recharge,” Avena said.

Also, chill out. “When we are stressed and anxious, our body has to work harder to produce cortisol to fight these stressors internally and that leaves fewer resources available to support our immune health,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise improves sleep and reduces anxiety.

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