The gradual shortening of the days signal a few things: the approach of autumn and its beautiful colors, the fact that Thanksgiving and then the hurried days before Christmas are just around the corner, and…the not so happy news that flu season will soon be in full swing. So, while you may have your holiday to-do list planned out weeks (or even months) in advance, do you have a game plane for building up you immunity to help ensure you don’t fall prey to this year’s latest virus strain? If not, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Your body really does better with exercise. Research reveals that regular, moderate exercise actually boosts the body’s production of infection-fighting antibodies (NK or natural killer cells), and reduces the frequency and severity of common cold symptoms and the flu. Now, this doesn’t mean that the moment you are exposed to something you should go out and run a marathon, especially if you have not been including regular exercise into your routine. Evidence actually points to the reduction of immunity from intense, prolonged exercise. Rather, near-daily moderate exercise is the key here.
A key factor to the body’s immune system is the lymphatic system: a clear version of the circulatory system which transports infection fighting cells throughout the body. The lymphatic system differs from the circulatory system in that it lacks a pump (the heart in the circulatory system), so its movement is dependent on the movement of your body. Exercise is the enabler for your lymphatic system.
Sip Some Chai
Researchers at Harvard University have chalked another health benefit up to black tea: the boosting of immune response. According to the study, participants who drank five cups of tea per day demonstrated a five-fold increase of interferon production. That is a significant increase, but one that is not surprising, given the well-documented benefits of the antioxidants in black tea. That being said, if chai isn’t your cup of tea, any form of tea will do.
Go For the Yogurt
Large bodies of research support the effects of probiotics on the immune system. One of the easiest ways for many people to include probiotics in their daily routine is through yogurt. However, grabbing the first sugary-sweet container marked yogurt, may not be the best thing, because the sugar can counteract the benefits of the probiotics. So, shop carefully, make sure you by yogurt that says “live cultures” on the label, and try to choose brands that are naturally or fruit-sweetened.
Get the Herb On
Once considered a phenomena of herbal folklore, Echinacea purpurea has gained the stamp of scientific research in recent years. In fact, standardized extracts of the herb have shown to increase the immune response of the body (specifically macrophage production), while reducing inflammatory responses (such as nasal congestion, etc.).
Boost Your Vitamin D Levels
While many of us like to think that fun in the sun during summer should give us adequate Vitamin D levels, research reveals that most Americans are sadly depleted in their vitamin D levels, regardless of sun exposure. The unfortunate result of that is that our immune systems are suffering. According to various studies, vitamin D plays a key role in stimulating the T-cells in the body to fight of infection. Although our body does produce vitamin D through exposure to the sun, it is estimated that at least 1 billion people around the world are still deficient in vitamin D, and thus have compromised immune systems. Supplementing with quality vitamin D will not only benefit your bones, but also help ensure you stay a bit healthier this flu season.
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