5 Immunity Boosters That Really Work

Healthy Living 33

fruits and veggiesAs cold and flu season bears down on us, we often feel helpless. Is there anything we can do to prevent what sometimes seems inevitable: that we'll come down with the flu du jour and spend a week (or more) coughing, sneezing, wheezing, feverish, and ... miserable?

It turns out, while there's no way to guarantee that you won't get sick, there are a few ways you can boost your immunity so that your body is in tip-top shape to fight off whatever comes floating by.

Here are five of them:

1. Eat a diet rich in antioxidants: Antioxidant vitamins and nutrients can help your immune system battle infections by neutralizing the free radicals that can damage cells in your body. Vitamins C and E are particularly important, as are beta-carotene, bioflavenoids, and zinc. A great way to make sure you get enough of these vitamins and nutrients is to eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies (berries, citrus fruits, apples, spinach, beets, broccoli, carrots) -- raw or lightly steamed. Fresh garlic also helps. And yes, chicken soup has been known to help boost immunity, too. Your mother was right!

2. Get lots of shuteye: Here's another thing your mom was right about: You're better able to fight off illness if you're adequately rested. Doctors recommend that adults get eight solid hours of sleep each night. I know, dream on -- but you should at least try.

3. Get moving: Regular exercise ups your level of infection-fighting white blood cells and boosts your endorphins, those feel-good hormones that increase your sense of well being and the quality of the sleep you get, both of which benefit your immune system. Something as simple as a taking a walk each day or getting 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week can reduce your chances of coming down with a cold.

4. Try to chill out: Stress suppresses your immune system; relaxing can give it a boost. You might even try relaxation techniques like meditation: Studies show that people who meditate regularly produce more antibodies to fight off the flu. Ommm ...

5. Yuk it up a little: Laughing lowers the levels of stress hormones and boosts your supply of infection-fighting white blood cells. It also raises your level of endorphins. So slip your favorite comedy in the ol' DVR, or better yet, call up your funniest girlfriend and invite her out for coffee. And if you need to negotiate the parental leave, just tell your partner you're boosting your immune system. Because a healthy you is good for your whole family, right?

What do you do to boost your immune system during cold and flu season?


Image via karimian/Flickr

cold & flu, energy & fatigue, exercise, general health, healthy habits, illness


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nonmember avatar Mike M

I seem to recall a study from about a decade ago on Scientific American Frontiers where a number of college students were infected with the common cold. Some of them were treated to an hour of massage after being infected and others were not. Many who received the massage did not get sick while most who didn't receive a massage did get sick. (I haven't found the exact study yet so I'm not certain of the details.) Receiving a massage is certainly just one of the things that you can do to reduce the amount of stress you experience. (As noted in the article meditation is a good way to relax.) Other things such as being accepting, forgiving, loving (if you don't know any people who give as much love and affection as they receive, pets are often very reciprocal [not to mention, sadly, that people often have difficulties in terms of trust and fear when it comes to opening up and being loving and affectionate {not to mention difficulties being selfless rather than selfish} with other humans in comparison to opening up and being loving and affectionate with pets], and I have heard that pet owners live longer, healthier, and happier lives than non-pet owners do), non-judgmental, etc. should also help you lower your level of stress and thus be good for your health - and you also become a better person that way.

lalas... lalasmama2007

We don't get colds or the flu very often, but thanks for the tips =)

mille... millerbunch

these are great tips.. nothing really to add.. we do these, and just make sure we disinfect.

momka... momkaribg

Great Tips.

aj23 aj23

 I don't do anything differently

Miyu Shira

I try these things plus I get my flu shot and the H1N1 shot, however I still have to be cautious with my compromised immune system thanks to Thyroid Disease.  My son is dilligent about washing hands and using tissues and does what he can to not bring too many germs home from school.  He has OCD so he's already kind of a germophobe... carries hand sanitizer with him everywhere.
Music and writing are my stress relievers... and there are days those are all that keep me from losing my cool :)

teach... teachermomva

Thanks for the tips! When we slack on handwashing we always get sick! Soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent viruses.  

daerc... daerca574

we take lots of vitamins and supplement with vitamin d3 all year long.

frysh... fryshannon34

I will be trying these

jessi... jessicasmom1

chicken soup, and vick's vapor rub has become my friend .. while I am sick these days

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