Health & Wellness Articles

6 Steps to Strengthen Your Immune System

Boost Your Body's Defenses

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2. Exercise Regularly
According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS), data from numerous studies show that regular exercise reduces the number of sick days. In three separate studies cited in the June 2001 issue of the PCPFS’ Research Digest, women who engaged in 35-45 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week, for 12-15 weeks experienced a reduced number of sick days compared to the control (sedentary) group. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to provide these benefits—in fact moderate exercise may even achieve a better result. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that upper respiratory infections were more common among athletes during heavy training. Whatever you do, listen to your body. If you’re under the weather already, take it easy until you feel better.

3. Get Enough Sleep
Deep sleep stimulates and energizes the immune system, while sleep deprivation has the opposite effect. According to authors of a sleep study published in 2001 in the journal Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, significant detrimental effects on immune functioning can be seen after a few days of total sleep deprivation or even several days of just partial sleep deprivation. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours a night, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours. To make sure you are getting enough quality sleep, avoid caffeinated drinks (and other stimulants), decongestants, tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol can assist falling into a light sleep, but it interferes with REM and the deeper stages of sleep, which are restorative.

4. Manage Stress
Between fender benders, work deadlines, marital problems and hectic schedules, keeping stress out of your life is impossible. But how you choose to react to stress can greatly impact your overall health. Sweeping problems under the rug as opposed to solving them can turn short-term stress into chronic stress, which can cause health problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, hormones (like cortisol) that hang around during chronic stress can put us at risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a variety of other illnesses. These stress hormones can work in two ways, either switching off disease-fighting white blood cells or triggering a hyperactive immune system, which increases your risk of developing auto-immune diseases. So find ways to de-stress a few times per week, whether you exercise, practice yoga, meditate, or take a relaxing bath.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • SSMITH7606
    Now, more than ever it's vitally important to support your immune system. You can find an amazing assortment of premium, high quality, all natural nutritional supplements to support immune defense (Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Colloidal Silver, Green Tea Extract, SUPER ANTIOXIDANT OPC and more): http://www.antiag
    ingultra.com/
    immunesystems
    upport.html - 11/3/2014 6:01:29 PM
  • FOXGLOVE999
    I was hoping for something more. My son has struggled with a weak immune system most of his life, and none of this is going to help him. - 10/24/2014 8:25:20 AM
  • What a fantastic naturopathic website! Thanks so much for the referral. - 9/28/2014 10:31:54 AM
  • MD_BRANDNEW
    Great information provided. In addition I have also came across a great article that focuses on ways to check if you have a low immune system as well as how to boost your immune system.Thought it would be worth the share: http://www.drdnat
    uropath.com/i
    ndex.php/how-
    to-build-a-st
    rong-immune-system/
    Enjoy! - 12/4/2013 11:21:28 AM
  • I still recall that when I was a smoker I ALWAYS had to stop when I got a cold or the flu.
    - 11/3/2013 8:31:54 PM
  • ...duh. Fluff piece. - 1/15/2013 6:52:31 PM
  • Pretty much things in moderation & not to abuse our bodies with smoking & alcohol - makes sense. - 9/8/2012 10:13:26 PM
  • Really enjoyed this article! The 6 tips were great! Definetely will put them to practice! Good thing I am not a smoker, so that is one less thing to worry about! - 2/23/2012 10:42:16 AM
  • Definitely need to follow this advice! - 12/8/2011 10:24:25 PM
  • Good article! Clearly I need to find ways to stress less and exercise more. I'm glad to see that I'm doing most of the other things right. - 12/8/2011 11:09:28 AM
  • DAMSELFLY3
    Great article. I know we have heard so much of this info before, just need to apply it! I catch colds way too often, now I have some immune ammo to build up my body with. hugs deb - 8/29/2011 6:28:22 PM
  • If your family medical history lends itself to autoimmune disease, please read about gluten grains and how eliminating them might help your pain, inflammation, immunity. Google is your friend.

    Here's one woman's account: http://autoimmune
    diseasesgfliv
    ing.blogspot.
    com/2009/03/g
    luten-autoimm
    une-disease-connection-or.html or for shorter, easier copying and pasting:

    http://bit.ly/e1o
    lsH

    If you or someone you love has IBS, it might be celiac disease and misdiagnosed. Gluten-free diet helps with epilepsy, Tourette's, narcolepsy ...

    ~40% of our population have the genes for celiac disease. Doesn't mean they're triggered, but stress can do it. 95% of the population are undiagnosed. I am not even talking about gluten "sensitivity" which is another topic.

    Sure, you can take QUALITY vitamins, but are you absorbing them?! Your immunity is in your gut, so take care of it!

    Speaking from experience (unfortunately). :P

    (Always cracks me up that people have to be told to be moderate in their drinking. Why isn't it ever suggested to not drink at all? ... I know, killjoy, huh?!) lol - 3/21/2011 4:57:00 PM
  • Very good article.So glad I love broccoli.No wonder I rarely get sick.I try to eat right,get exercise and keep a positive attitude. - 3/21/2011 1:53:44 PM
  • Your otherwise useful article is marred by the offhand comment "supplements can be shady". It is a complete mischaracterizati
    on that dietary supplements are unregulated. Foods are no more regulated than supplements in terms of providing the stated nutritional levels. Both foods and supplements are regulated by the FDA, both are subject to Good Manufacturing laws (cGMPs), which, help ensure safety, identity and quality of food and dietary supplement ingredients, all of which help ensure these products provide the stated nutritional content. The FDA has similar powers to enforce these laws for foods as it does dietary supplements and the FTC has jurisdiction over claims for these foods including nutritional content and health claims. Some nutrients are even acknowledged by the medical profession as difficult to acquire from the typical diet alone, especially as we age. Women don't get enough calcium, most of us don't get enough Vitamin D. So If you think you can get all the nutrients you need from the fabled "healthy diet" go right ahead and try! Me, I will continue to take my fish oil, Vit D, calcium, chromium, magnesium and zinc because I personally feel better when I'm taking these supplements and I have confidence that they are just as regulated as foods! - 3/21/2011 10:47:07 AM
  • I am 70* years old, widowed recently and have been taking vitamins from a very reputable company for over 35 years. I see the difference the older i get. I'm a firm believer in the premise that good nutrition and regular exercise improve our quality of life, do not necessarily extend it...............
    ........there is a company called Nutrilite that can answer a lot of questions regarding supplementation and they've been around for over 65 years............
    . - 3/20/2011 8:49:30 PM

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