15 Tips to Boost Your Immune System Against the Cold and Flu from 15 Tips to Boost Your Immune System Against the Cold and Flu

15 Tips to Boost Your Immune System Against the Cold and Flu

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15 Tips to Boost Your Immune System Against the Cold and Flu

About 5 to 20 percent of people in the U.S. come down with the flu, usually in the winter between October and March. When the immune system is working properly, all cells, tissues, and organs should be strong enough to fight off infection. However, building a healthy immune system doesn’t happen overnight. You will be headed on the right track with the following simple tips.

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Eat fruits and veggies

There are hundreds of substances that contribute to a healthy immune system. Veggies and fruit for example, are great sources of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, antioxidants and fiber. All of these food components are essential for being healthy. You have to know how to cook the veggies. There are some general rules of thumb, according to Nutrition Specialist Marina Rößer. “The shorter the time, the lower the heat and the less the water, the more vitamins and minerals re preserved,” she says.

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Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep has an immense effect on the immune system. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night to set your body’s internal clock and boost the quality of your sleep. Past Sleep in America polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicate that children and the elderly, identified as high-risk populations and first in line for the flu vaccine, are often sleep-deprived. You need restorative sleep to get the body back into disease-fighting shape.

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Stay positive

Thinking positively about the future and in general may be the key to a strong immune system, according to a study. Psychological scientists studied how law students’ expectations about the future affected their immune response. As each student's expectations about law school waxed and waned, their immune response followed along. At more optimistic times, they'd have bigger immune responses; at a more pessimistic time, a more sluggish immune response.

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Cover your mouth when coughing

You don't want to spread aerosolized harmful microorganisms to others. If quarantining yourself at home is not an option, cover your mouth or put a mask on to minimize the spread of tiny infected droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze. And stand about 4 feet away. People won’t make fun of you by singeing you out; they will thank you for protecting them.

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Exercise

Regular workouts keep the immune system up to par. When it’s in top shape, few bacteria can get in its way. Thirty minutes of exercise a day is not hard to achieve, so make sure you commit to the task. When you move your body your circulation increases. Better blood flow strengthens the immune system, which makes it better able to fight infections and viruses, including the common cold and flu.

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Meditate

One of the major causes of any sickness is stress. Yes, you can literally make yourself sick. Try and meditate, release your mind of your stresses and reduce your anxiety levels. Meditation can reduce the incidence, duration and severity of colds and the flu by about 30 to 60 percent, according to a 2012 study.

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Consider probiotics

A meta-analysis of studies showed there was marginal effect of probiotics on the prevention of the common cold. The results implied that probiotics had a modest effect in common cold reduction. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that your body needs, doctors say. People who are looking to support their immune and digestive health or have recently taken antibiotics should consider a probiotic supplement.

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Have some garlic

This is “the godfather of immune boosting foods,” Kaiser says. With one clove containing 5 mg of calcium, 12 mg of potassium and over 100 sulfuric compounds, it’s been used for years to prevent everything from the common cold to the plague. Garlic contains a phytonutrient called allicin. It is known for its antiviral and anti-microbial properties, which may help fight viral and bacterial infections, she adds. “The problem is that you should eat it raw.”

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Get vaccinated

“For influenza, we stress the importance of getting the flu shot as asthmatics are much more susceptible to getting sicker and having a full blown asthma attack, or worse, being admitted to the hospital, Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, says. Remember, flu shots are made with dead viruses or without any viruses at all. So you can’t catch the flu from a flu shot because the inactivated virus in the shot can’t transmit the disease.

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Add astragalus

Astragalus, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, is an herb that is considered an immune system stimulant. Studies have shown that astragalus has antiviral properties and stimulates the immune system, suggesting that it may help prevent colds. It is also used to prevent upper respiratory infections, lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, and protect the liver.

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Add herbs and spices

Add some flavor to your dishes and protect your health at the same time. Cinnamon and cloves have been said to contain potent antibacterial, antiviral, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them the perfect cold and flu fighters. You can also try oregano, thyme, nutmeg and rosemary.

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Avoid sweets

Consuming just 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of sugar leads to lower counts of white blood cells for up to five hours, according to a study, and increase disease susceptibility. The sugar causes the white blood cells to be about 40 percent less effective at killing germs. Sugar impacts them by competing for space with Vitamin C, according to Health Science (The Most Surprising Sources of Vitamin D).

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Hydrate

Lack of water can wreak havoc on your body. Make sure you drink a lot of water. Hot water has many health benefits. All teas are great for colds and sore throats because they are warm and hydrating. Stick with herbals, as the caffeinated ones can do the opposite and dehydrate you. Chamomile, Echinacea, and all herbals are also recommended. Chick soup will help you stay hydrated, too.

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Don’t bite your nails

Unless you can completely avoid getting germs on your hands, which is unrealistic, avoid this nasty habit. What you can realistically do, however, is avoid transporting the potential viruses hiding under your nails and on your hands into your respiratory system. Make sure you wash your hands often, just in case.

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Lose weight, if necessary

The immune system is in overdrive in overweight and obese people, so it’s not responding properly to potential threats. According to Live Science, “excess fat around the abs can turn the body's defense system against you, leading to heart and other diseases. Australian researchers found that for obese individuals, shedding just 10 pounds could straighten out an off-balance immune system.”

15 Tips to Boost Your Immune System Against the Cold and Flu