By Assia Mortensen
The immune system is a complex interplay of functions within the body. To work well, it requires balance, according to the report, “How to Boost Your Immune System,” published by Harvard Health Journals. A weakened immune system can make you more susceptible to falling victim to this season’s cold or flu. While researchers are continually learning more about the immune system, there are several steps you can take to bolster immune function and overall health. According to Harvard researchers, you can boost your health when you are feeling poorly with certain lifestyle changes.
Tips for Boosting Immunity:
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, cartilage and muscles. The Mayo Clinic reports a small reduction in the duration of colds in those taking vitamin C. However, several studies on people in very stressful conditions who take vitamin C supplements, such as soldiers, skiers and marathon runners, report a significant reduction in the risk of developing a cold by approximately half, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Harvard researchers have found evidence of a relationship between “good” bacteria and the immune system. Taking probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can safely bolster your immune system. You can find probiotics in supplement form, or added to products such as yogurt, juice, kefir, cereal and energy bars.
Exercise promotes good circulation, allowing the immune system’s cells to work more efficiently. If you have been sick, take it slow and work back to your normal routine. Regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and help protect against a variety of diseases.
Harvard researchers state that the best diet for the immune system contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. In addition, certain types of fat help the immune system fight off disease. Eat unsaturated, liquid fats — such as olive, flaxseed, coconut or sesame oil — to boost immune function. Minimize your intake of saturated fats as much as possible.
Vitamin E assists in producing immunity cells that make bacteria-fighting antibodies. If your diet is rich in seeds, vegetable oils and whole grains, you are probably getting enough Vitamin E. However, people with a compromised immune system may need a supplement.
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Vitamin C; Mayo Clinic; Accessed September 17, 2012
Boost Energy, Strengthen Immune System and More; Women’s Health; Matthew Kadey; Accessed September 18, 2012
Ten Foods to Kick a Cold and Boost Your Immunity; ABC News: Rhada Chitale; 2008; Accessed September 18, 2012
To Fight Flu, Arm Your System with Diet, Rest; CNN; Val Willingham; 2009; Accessed September 18, 2012
How to Boost Your Immune System; Harvard Health Publications; Accessed September 18, 2012