Six Great Ways to Boost Your Natural Defense System This Fall
Alluring autumn is here, bringing crispy breezes, colorful leaves, plump pumpkins…and loads of nasty cold and flu germs. Don’t let fever, chills and stuffiness ruin this super season; instead, follow a few time-honored natural methods to boost your body’s bacterial and viral defenses.
Pack in the Protein
Days are shorter and colder, inviting steamy treats like spicy chili and savory stew. Many disease fighting antibodies are made of protein, and lean meats, fish and chicken give a potent kick of germ-busting power to your diet. Protein-rich foods like beef, pork, beans, oysters and crabmeat are also loaded with bacteria-fighting zinc, builder of infection-fighting white blood cells. Loaded with protein and good fats, nuts like cashews, almonds and walnuts are super sources of immunity-boosting magnesium.
Feast on Fantastic Fruits and Veggies
You can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies, and those rich in vitamins A, C and E are also super flu-defenders. For best results, chow down on about five cups of varied green, orange and yellow produce. Vitamin A, packed into such veggies as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and dark leafy greens, helps regulate the immune system and combat invasive germs. Mighty defender against colds and flu, vitamin C also improves iron absorption and is found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli and papayas. Pick nuts, seeds and turnips for extra vitamin E, known to fight flu and upper respiratory infections.
Take a Walk
Fall’s crispy, sunny days are perfect for a vigorous hike. Even 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can help charge up the immune system, keeping antibodies and white cells moving through the body in an active search for bacteria and viruses to attack. The increase in physical activity also works wonders for circulation, triggering the release of pathogen-fighting immune cells. Moderate workouts are the key to bolstering immunities, as extremely strenuous activities such as marathon running can actually cause a decrease in circulating white blood cells.
Don’t Overdo the Cocktails
It’s OK to have one or two drinks before the fire on a brisk evening, but try to limit alcohol consumption during flu season, as too much alcohol suppresses the immune system’s ability to fight bacteria and viruses. More than three drinks can definitely have a detrimental effect on our ability to fend off colds and flu and can also lead to poor sleep patterns, another immunity-buster. Though some studies suggest that wine is less harmful than beer or spirits and can actually help protect against the common cold, evidence is pretty limited.
Wash Your hands
Perhaps the simplest way of all to stay healthy is to wash hands regularly. Any surface can be a hotbed of nasty germs, and frequent scrubbing with soap and water or precautionary squirts of antibacterial gel can go a long way toward staying sniffle-free.
Stoke up on Sleep
OK, you’ve packed your fridge with fruits, veggies and lean protein, are adhering to a regular exercise schedule and are curtailing the cocktails. Don’t undo all this good work by skimping on sleep. Especially during flu season, it’s so important to give your body the replenishing rest it needs to maintain strong defenses and protect from infections and hormonal changes. To get the best shut-eye, try sticking to a schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even weekends.
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