Most of us know that frequent handwashing and using the “proper” sneezing and coughing technique (into a tissue or your elbow) are important for preventing the spread of germs, especially during the upcoming cold and flu season. But it’s also important to keep your immune system healthy, so it’s primed to fight off infections and stop them from beginning.
Offering island-wide care, Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy provides complete care for patients of all ages with cold and flu infections at our offices in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii.
In this post, our expert team reviews four strategies to help you support your immune system and reduce your risk of illness all season long.
You’ve heard it a million times: You are what you eat. When it comes to your immune system, it’s absolutely true. Your immune system plays a critical role in helping you ward off germs, and to do its job properly and efficiently, it needs plenty of essential nutrients.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help. That means filling up on colorful fruits and vegetables, including bell peppers, sweet potatoes, berries, and citrus fruits. Nuts and seeds provide a healthy dose of zinc, a mineral that also plays an important role in immunity.
Adding some probiotic foods, like yogurt, kombucha, or kefir, keeps your gut microbiome in balance, which is an important but often overlooked part in maintaining a healthy immune system. Avoid fried foods and unhealthy fats, along with prepackaged foods, convenience foods, and fast foods. It’s also helpful to limit your alcohol intake when you’re trying to bolster your immunity.
About a third of adults say they don’t get enough sleep, and as many as 70 million suffer from chronic sleep disorders. Since sleep is when your body repairs and heals itself, it makes sense that not getting enough of those precious Zs is also linked with weaker immunity.
Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night for optimal immune function — and better health and wellness overall. Fitting in a nap is a great way to recharge if you find yourself feeling extra fatigued or under the weather during the day.
Like the other items on this list, exercise offers plenty of benefits for your body and your health. Physical activity ramps up circulation, helping your body flush out toxins and bacteria, while circulating disease-fighting immune cells. It also helps relieve stress that can interfere with immunity, too.
Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week (for instance, a 30-minute brisk walk five times per week). Add in strengthening exercises, too, for maximum benefits. Don’t overdo it, though; too much exercise (overtraining) could wind up suppressing your immune system.
Losing weight isn’t easy, but it comes with big benefits for your health. One of those benefits is a stronger immune system. While researchers don’t know the precise link between weight and immunity, they believe it probably has to do with inflammation.
When you’re overweight or obese, that extra body fat can trigger low-grade, persistent inflammation throughout your body. In turn, chronic inflammation can take a toll on your immune system, making it harder to fight off germs.
The good news: The other three items on this list — healthy eating, better sleep, and more exercise — all support healthy weight maintenance, too.
If you’re not feeling well, scheduling a visit with our team is important for making sure your body has the support it needs to avoid serious illness. To find out how we can help you stay healthy, book an appointment online or over the phone today with Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy.