Want A Strong Body?
First, You Need A Strong Immune System
When it comes to getting in better shape, a resilient immune system keeps illness at bay-making it more likely you'll stay active on a regular basis. Consider the following tips to help you maintain a healthy balance between fitness and wellness: CATCH SOME ZZZs Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, potentially upping your chances of catching the latest virus making the rounds. It can be difficult to find motivation even when you’re feeling healthy-so, having a sore throat and a relentless cough certainly won't make it any easier to spur yourself into action and stick to your daily exercise goals. Getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep nightly can help your immune system stay on point, keeping you feeling good and making it easier for you to get outside and get moving. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day and sleeping in an environment that is quiet, cool and as dark as possible, can help you maintain a consistent and healthy sleep schedule. In addition, try to avoid eating large meals just before turning in for the night, as doing so forces your body to work on digesting food, which can disrupt your slumber. And, if you drink a lot of caffeine or take any fitness supplements that contain caffeine, try to avoid doing so within six hours of bedtime. Studies have shown that consuming caffeine in that time window can reduce your total sleep by as much as an hour.
ARM YOURSELF WITH ANTIOXIDANTS If you've made a commitment to being more active, taking better care of your health can support your exercise goals. For a beneficial health boost, try antioxidant-rich foods and supplements-they defend against damage to your immune system and cells throughout your body, and many fruits and vegetables are chock-full of them. Aim to incorporate foods like berries, apples, artichokes, kale and spinach into your daily diet. If you think you aren’t getting enough via food, antioxidant supplements like grape seed extract and green tea complex are an easy and efficient way to get more. Coenzyme Q10, more commonly known as CoQ10, is another antioxidant supplement to consider. CoQ10 helps cells function properly by aiding in the production of the energy they need to grow and stay healthy. Fish, meats and whole grains all have small amounts of CoQ10, but not enough to significantly boost the levels in your body. Plus, your levels decrease as you age, so taking a CoQ10 daily can help ensure you’re getting the amount you need.
BOOST IMMUNITY WITH VITAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Give your immune system some extra love. In addition to the obvious immune supporters like vitamin C, levels of vitamin D3 may have an impact on immune health. Keeping your body supplied with healthy amounts of it can help boost your overall immune health. Very few foods—other than those that are fortified, such as milk—contain Vitamin D. To cover all your bases, consider taking a daily multivitamin to fill nutrition gaps and help you function at your best. Supplements to Support Immune Health
With so many supplements claiming to boost your immune system, it can be hard to know what’s going to actually work for you. Don’t settle for just any supplement—make what you opt for ones that have evidence to back up the claims. Here are supplements with science to support their role in immune health.
1. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C tops the list in terms of supporting your immune health. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, working to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Plus, vitamin C helps the body make collagen and helps improve the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. It also helps the immune system so it can do its job. Fruits and vegetables like green peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and leafy greens are all great sources of vitamin C.
Along with immune support, zinc is involved in the majority of metabolic processes in the human body. It plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism, glucose utilization and insulin production. It’s also involved in collagen synthesis and is an essential nutrient for the formation of bone matrix. In addition, zinc supports the body’s natural resistance.
Zinc is found in many foods, such as red meat, poultry and seafood. Some plant-based foods, such as beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy, have some zinc, too. Fortified breakfast cereals also have zinc.
3. VITAMIN A
Vitamin A is most often associated with vision, but its role goes way beyond eyesight. When it comes to your body, it does a little bit of everything. It does a big part in gene expression, meaning it has influence on the body through its regulation of genes. Plus, vitamin A plays a role in the maintenance of body linings and skin, immune defenses and reproduction. There is considerable research supporting the need for vitamin A in the regulation of the genes involved in immune health. To make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A, eat plenty of vegetables like broccoli, green, leafy veggies, carrots and squash. Fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products and some types of fish—like salmon—can also help you meet your daily needs.
4. VITAMIN D
Vitamin D might be referred to as a vitamin, but it also acts as a hormone, participating in many roles in the body. Vitamin D helps to maintain strong bones, helps muscles move and—you guessed it—supports your immune system as well. Keeping your body supplied with adequate amounts of it can help boost your overall immune health. Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. Fortified foods, such as milk, as well as some fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, are among the best food sources.
5. VITAMIN B6
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a critically important nutrient with a wide range of functions in the body. In fact, the body needs Vitamin B6 for more than a hundred enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. It plays a big role in protein metabolism and is involved in multiple roles related to immune function. Vitamin B6 comes from a variety of foods in your diet, such as poultry, fish, potatoes, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.
6. VITAMIN E
Looking for yet another powerful antioxidant? You’ll want to check out Vitamin E. It works in the body to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out important functions. The body also uses Vitamin E to help boost its immune system. Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables are all good sources of Vitamin E. Some breakfast cereals, margarines and other foods have vitamin E added to them during manufacturing—just another reason to read your labels!
If you want to do even more to support your immune health—be sure to go with your gut! The digestive track serves as an immune organ by protecting the body from potentially harmful microbes that have been consumed. Probiotics are known for their positive role in supporting digestive health, but research suggests that some strains of probiotics support immune health as well. You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut or kombucha.
OTHER RECOMMENDED HEALTHY HABITS
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends these everyday healthy habits:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.