Your immune system’s got your back. And your front. All of you, inside and out
Have you been struck by those germ-loving gremlins?
- Wash Your Hands: Washing hands remains the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from colds and flu. Lather, rinse, repeat throughout the day. Do it long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Switch To Chemical-Free Cleaners: Think of it this way. You wouldn’t let your kids play with toxic chemicals, so why would you let that baby crawl over a floor that’s just been wiped with them? That’s much more dangerous than the orange juice that was just there. Those toxins being breathed in and absorbed into the skin potentially increase the risk of asthma and allergies.
- Get Enough Sleep: Sleep may be your immune system’s secret weapon, according to recent scientific research. Less than seven hours of sleep a night made people three times more likely to catch a cold than those who got eight or more hours of zzzs.
- Exercise: While very vigorous physical activity (like running a marathon) can put a damper on your immune system, most scientists agree that moderate physical activity actually helps boost the immune cells that fight off invaders.
- Get a massage: Massage lowers cortisol (stress level). A lowered stress level helps build your immune system.
- Fuel Yourself with Good Nutrition: An orange a day (along with strawberries, bell peppers, potatoes, and other vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables) can help keep the doctor away. Lean meat, fish, and other protein sources also provide the amino acids needed to help maintain your immune system. Don’t forget to fill in nutritional gaps with immune supporting nutrients like zinc and vitamins D, A, C and E. Harvard scientists even suggest vitamin D supplements may help reduce the occurrences of colds. The Harvard Vitamin D Study found low vitamin D levels in nearly 20,000 Americans increased their cold and flu risk.
- Power up with Plant Extracts: Scientific research has led to the discovery of a combination of plant extracts that naturally boost the body’s own production of interferon, a component of the immune system that helps fight off viruses. Other plant compounds found in elderberry and echinacea extracts can help, too. Take these when you feel the first sign of something coming on, and continue taking them for about a week as needed.