We’re right in the middle of cold and flu season. It’ll likely be at its height next month, then continue through May. If you don’t want to get sick, you’ll probably look for ways to strengthen your immune system and keep the germs at bay. How should you go about it? If you’re just looking for a quick fix, then there’s not a lot you can do. On the other hand, if you want to improve your immune system long term, there are a few steps you can take.
The myth that a super-high dose of vitamin C can ward off an oncoming illness has been perpetuated for decades, and it’s simply not true. The average person needs only between 65 and 95 milligrams per day, and more than 2,000 is actually harmful.
Still, getting your daily recommended dose is helpful in keeping your immune system strong and resilient. Other vitamins are important as well, such as A, B6, and E, along with minerals including iron and zinc. Eating foods rich in these nutrients daily can help to keep you healthy throughout your life.
On the other hand, you should beware of supplements that claim they specifically boost immunity. Most of these products are dubious at best, if not outright scams. Even multivitamins aren’t as effective as they claim, and evidence that they can improve your health more effectively than simply getting your nutrients from the food you eat is mixed and inconclusive.
Diet and Exercise
The most effective way of strengthening your immune system is by simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid saturated fats and other unhealthy items. Keep active and exercise regularly, and try to maintain a healthy weight for your height and frame.
Proper nourishment is one of the most important aspects of a healthy immune system. If you’re eating healthy, well-balanced meals, but find you still aren’t getting the nutrients you need, or that you have a deficiency, then consider a supplement, specifically for the vitamin or mineral you’re lacking. Talk to a doctor about it, to determine what you need to take, how much, and how often.
Some scientists believe that exercise can have a direct impact on your susceptibility to infection. However, results on this front have been inconclusive. Still, regular physical activity has a number of health benefits, from improved circulation to lower blood pressure to better heart health. These things in turn help make a person healthier, and keep their immune system stronger.
Too much stress in your life can lead to ulcers, heart disease, hives, and a variety of other problems. Can reducing stress improve your immune system, though? It’s difficult to say. There hasn’t been much study on this front, and controlled experiments are difficult at best.
Even so, much like the other factors discussed above, lowering stress makes you healthier overall, which in turn strengthens your immune system and helps ward off infection.
The human immune system is a difficult thing to understand. Every person is different, so while one study may find evidence that a particular factor affects the body positively or negatively, another might not. If you’re looking for a quick way to boost your immunities temporarily and ward off disease, then you’re out of luck. However, if you take steps to keep yourself in generally good health in the long term, such as eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, not smoking, and only drinking in moderation, then you can keep yourself healthy, lower your risk of sickness, and improve your chances in general of a longer, happier life.