Take Care: Top Tips for a Healthy Immune System
You may have heard that this year’s flu is exceptionally serious. Time magazine reports that, for the first time since the CDC began monitoring the flu, every area across the U.S. is affected all at the same time. And for those who get the flu vaccine, the CDC estimates that it is just 30 percent effective this year. In addition, many people are suffering from post-flu illnesses; according to health practitioners, if your immune system is weakened by the flu, you can be more susceptible to pneumonia and other infections that can turn fatal.
**This does not mean you shouldn't get the flu vaccine. The CDC still recommends that you do so.**
So, what can you do to reduce your risk of getting the flu? Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infections and disease. Lots of things can affect your immune system – the type of foods you eat (or don’t eat); how much water you drink, the amount of sleep you get, the stress you’re under – these are just a few of the areas that we can positively affect.
If you are overly fatigued or constantly sleep-deprived, it will be harder for your immune system to fight off disease. On the other hand, regular rest and restorative sleep will support your immune system, so your body has the strength to fight off any potential invaders.
If you do just ONE thing to for your immune system, reduce the amount of sugar you consume – especially if you are already feeling under the weather. Sugar (which comes in many forms and has many different names) contributes to inflammation and runs down the immune system. Leaders in the health, wellness and nutrition fields, also suggest reducing processed foods.
Nutritional studies show that avoiding dairy can be helpful to avoiding disease, particularly during cold and flu season. Dairy can create inflammation and “mucous glue,” where bacteria and viruses can grow. It can also contribute to allergy symptoms, sinus and ear infections.
Water is essential for ensuring that your body eliminates waste and toxins (those little buggers that your kidneys and liver clear out) – and that can help shorten the length of your illness. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces of water every day.
So, a person who weighs 130 pounds needs approximately 65 ounces of water – more if you exercise regularly. Start as soon as you wake up by drinking 8 ounces of water before you do anything else!
I hope your stay healthy and happy this cold and flu season!
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