There’s a war going on. While you are unaware, your immune system is busy capturing and destroying pathogens—germs—bent on invading your body for a complete takeover. How can you support your troops and boost your immune system? Here are 10 tips for building a robust system for fighting germs:
You already know that when you’re coming down with something, sleep is your frontline of defense. It is also useful in prevention. Getting enough sleep each night is an important way to support the fight that your immune system is constantly waging.
You don’t have to obsess, but establishing good habits of washing your hands frequently throughout the day, and carrying a travel hand sanitizer for those on-the-go times, can go a long way in helping cut down on the invaders in your body.
Vitamins and minerals
There are several key vitamins and minerals that support a strong immune system. Here’s a short list of ones that may benefit you:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E
Foods that fight for you
Some foods seem to be better than others for strengthening your immune system. If you’re feeling run down, or if you know your health could use some improving, add some of these to your diet:
- Fish and flaxseeds – Omega-3 fatty acids
- Japanese mushrooms
- Cabbage, broccoli
- Leafy greens
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Strawberries and blueberries
- Plain yogurt – use natural sweeteners rather than buying pre-sweetened
- Avoid: processed foods, refined sugars, high salt, sodas and sports drinks
There are some herbs that are reputed to have immune system boosting effects that you may want to try, however, there are mixed camps regarding the validity of these claims. “Be sure to check with your physician before using herbs and especially before mixing herbs with any prescription medication,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Thomas Allen.
- Gingko biloba
- Cat’s claw
- Green tea
Drinking plenty of water each day helps support all of the systems of your body, as they do their job burning fuel, eliminating waste, rebuilding cells and fighting infection. “When I start to feel run down, I grab some water right away,” said Dr. Allen. “Six to eight glasses a day is a good goal, but when you’re feeling sick, it should be even more.”
Along with getting enough sleep, plenty of water and eating right, your body needs proper exercise to be strong and to have an increased ability to fight germs. A daily exercise routine is shown to improve your body’s immune system. When you’re getting sick, however, exercise should be moderated to save energy for fighting off the bug.
Stress is an eroding factor for your body’s strength and vitality. “You may be so accustomed to a high level of stress that you don’t even realize the toll it is taking on your body,” said Dr. Allen. Practicing stress-relieving habits such as meditation, yoga, breathing techniques and stretching may help your immune system.
Healthy intestinal tract
Good gut health is an important way to strengthen your immune system. Probiotics and digestive enzymes help maintain a proper gut function. Recent studies have shown some benefits linked to frequent eating of yogurt for good gut health.
Regular medical screening
Your immune system is just that—a system of the body. It is a complex interaction between organs, cells and nutrients. If any one part of the system isn’t doing its job well, that may reduce the effectiveness of the immune system. “A regular physical, including screenings for things such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar, is an important consideration for each person,” said Dr. Allen. “In many cases, we can identify a condition before it becomes a major problem. With some lifestyle tweaks, medical treatment and careful monitoring, we can make a significant positive impact on the patient’s health.”
At Advance ER, we are dedicated to supporting the function of your body’s systems, including a healthy immune system. If you feel you get sick too easily, have trouble beating a bug, or are run down all the time, stop by one of our two convenient locations for a health screening. We’re open 24/7 for your convenience and our board-certified physicians have the expertise needed to bring you quality health care.
Meet Dr. Allen:
Thomas Allen, M.D., FACEP, is board-certified in emergency medicine. He received his medical degree from Oregon Health Science University, Portland, OR. He completed his internship at the Legacy Health Systems’ Emanuel and Good Samaritan Hospitals, Portland, OR, and his residency at the University of Texas at Houston Herman Hospitals, Houston, TX.
Dr. Allen has been practicing for over two decades. He and his family are active in their Dallas community and love being a part of the neighborhood.