Building a Better Immune System
There are many things that can affect your immune system, making it weak and unable to fend-off infections and viruses such as COVID-19. What can you do to build your immune system?
Take more vitamins
Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters by increasing the production of white blood cells. Take vitamin C daily to replenish your body since it does not produce or store it.
Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting your immune system as well as your central nervous system.
Vitamin D is the key. If your levels of vitamin D decrease rapidly, which often happens in the colder winter months, your immune function can be impaired. 1,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily is recommended.
Vitamin E helps the body fight off infection and may reduce free radical damage, slowing the aging process of your cells.
Zinc is needed for immune cell development. A deficiency in this nutrient, affecting around 2 billion people worldwide, significantly affects your immune system’s ability to function properly, resulting in an increased risk of infection and disease. Studies show it may protect against respiratory tract infections like the common cold.
Sugar decreases your immune system’s ability to function. Eliminating foods and drinks prepared with refined sugar and Aspartame for just five days will quickly have you feeling better.
Get plenty of sleep
At night, cortisol levels built up from daily stress, drop, triggering cellular repair processes that are critical to optimal immune function. Young children and teenagers need an average of 8-10 hours of sleep each night. People in their 20s, 30s, and 40s need 6-8 hours each night. 50-year old’s and up generally only need 6-7 hours each night.
Exercise increases circulation and removes toxins. It can also help reduce stress, which is important to reduce cortisol overload. Cardio such as jogging or walking helps to improve lung function and strengthen your heart. Yoga also helps with circulation, balance, and relieving stress. Pick something you enjoy doing and work it into your daily routine.
If you do not like taking vitamins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that can help protect you against illness by reducing inflammation. Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, avocado, and salmon, may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation as well. They may also decrease your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Fibrous plant foods feed your gut microbiome (bacteria in the gut). A healthy gut can help prevent harmful pathogens from entering your body through your digestive tract.
Here are 15 powerful plant-based, immune system boosting foods per Healthline.com
A good source for vitamin C, citrus fruits are good by themselves or added to your meal via their juice, pulp, or peel. Popular citrus fruits are:
Red bell peppers
Believe it or not, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Beta carotene helps your eyesight and vitamin C keeps your skin healthy. Remember, the more colorful the vegetable is, the better!
Broccoli has vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber. Raw or steamed broccoli is best to get the most nutrients, but if you must cook it, go al dente!
Garlic is used most often in cooking and a must-have for your health. It also helps with blood pressure and can help reduce the hardening of the arteries.
Ginger can help with inflammation, such as a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. It may also help decrease nausea, chronic pain, and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties. A cup of hot ginger tea can really hit the spot when you are sick!
Spinach is packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, not to mention vitamin C. Eating a spinach salad is best to maintain its nutrients, however, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid. Spinach is also easy to use in smoothies since it has a mild taste.
Yogurt contains live cultures that help with gut health and digestion. Plain or Greek yogurt is best, as opposed to the flavored ones, and can also be a great source of vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.
Papaya has vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, and a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.
Almonds are packed with vitamin E and healthy fats – two immune building helpers.
This beautiful spice has been around for years and used as an anti-inflammatory in treating arthritis. Add some to your food next time and reap the benefits.
Green tea is also a good source of antioxidants and L-theanine, which can aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
Kiwis are naturally full of nutrients, including potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C, boosting white blood cells to fight infection.
When you’re sick, chicken soup is more than just comforting, it helps improve symptoms of a cold. Poultry is high in vitamin B-6, which is vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Homemade stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones is helpful for gut healing and immunity.
Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including magnesium and vitamin B-6. They’re also high in vitamin E.
Some types of shellfish, like crab, lobster, clams, and mussels, are packed with zinc. Our bodies need zinc to function properly. Just don’t go over the daily recommendation of 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.
Remember to wash and disinfect ALL produce, packaging, and products you get from the grocery store with soap and water (above 77 degrees Fahrenheit) to eliminate germs, bacteria, and the lingering COVID-19 virus!
Staying hydrated can boost your immune system too. Water helps your body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. Eight, 8-ounce glasses of plain water a day are recommended. Try to avoid overindulging on beverages that can make you dehydrated, like coffee.
Go for the dark chocolate
70% dark chocolate or higher contains flavonoids, a type of powerful antioxidant. They are especially abundant in cacao beans – the seeds of the cacao tree that are used to make cocoa powder, which in turn is used to make chocolate. Flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to reduce high blood pressure, prevent blood clots, kill free radicals (which are associated with cancer cell growth), and improve cognition. Dark chocolate also contains fiber, potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium, helping with inflammation. which can lead to heart disease.
Get your vaccinations
Whether it be your seasonal flu shot or over-50 shingles shot, vaccinations can help your immune system battle these and other viruses. While some don’t believe in vaccinations or think a flu shot will give you the flu, others find that these vaccinations help to prevent the flu and or lessen the severity of the illness. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons.
Practice good hygiene
Wash your hands with soap and water (above 77 degrees Fahrenheit) before and after touching food, pets, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc. And when using the bathroom. Moisturize dry hands to keep them healthy. Germs can get into the cracks and crevasses of damaged skin. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.
Keep your fingernails clean so germs don’t hide there. Biting your nails and/or cuticles is the worst habit, not only for obvious health reasons but it also can create open sores on your hands and leave them unsightly.
Touching your face throughout the day is not good for your skin or your health. We pick up so many germs on our hands and then contaminate our face, eyes, nose, and mouth. Some infections such as Conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye”, are transmitted this way, as well as the flu. And today, we know this is one of the ways the COVID-19 virus is transmitted from person to person. Carrying tissues with you may help with this if you can get into the habit of using a tissue to wipe your face, nose, and eyes. Just make sure to discard it in the trash when done.
Removing your shoes before coming into your house is also a good habit to develop. Your shoes can pick up all sorts of bacteria out on the street and in stores, work, etc., and you don’t want to bring that into your house.
Making these simple changes to your daily routine will help build your family’s immune system!
For more Coronavirus (COVID-19) info, go to CDC frequently asked questions
For updated resources from Surepoint, go to Resources
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