Pump Up Your Immune System

Secrets to staying healthy

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 optimize 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 will still need a bit of help getting all the nutrients it needs to stay strong. That is where supplements come in. A good multivitamin is a must. In addition, boosting your intake of the nutrients below can help prevent deficiencies that make you a target for infections:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D

Chill out

Excessive stress essentially cripples the immune system, making the body less able to fend off everything from bacteria and viruses to serious diseases. Finding ways to relax is essential for your good health. Give the following a try:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Warm baths with soothing oils, such as lavender
  • Walking
  • Reading

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 cut your immune defenses in half, 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, a nap can help stave off illness. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying that way, try some remedies for insomnia.

Build good bacteria

Making sure the good bacteria in your body outnumber the bad is one way to help fend off infection. 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.

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