When it comes to your health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow these everyday lifestyle habits to give your immune system everything it needs to fend off illness and function at its best.
1. EAT HEALTHY
A healthy immune system must be fueled with nutritious food. That means a diet with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and time-tested immune boosters like fresh garlic, spinach, citrus and, yes, even chicken soup.
2. GET ADEQUATE SLEEP
Getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep can lower your immunity, putting you at greater risk for diseases like diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. In addition, your body makes and releases disease-fighting substances while you sleep.
Important to overall good health, regular exercise keeps your body strong to protect against diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, bone loss and some cancers. Regular, moderate exercise helps circulate cells that attack viruses and bacteria, and lowers stress hormones which can make you more susceptible to illness.
4. MANAGE STRESS
Stress is linked to health issues from digestive problems to heart disease. Chronic stress floods your body with stress hormones that interfere with your immune system. Therefore, it's important to know how to identify stress in your life. Equally important is finding activities that can help you manage stress, such as yoga, music, meditation or exercise.
5. RECEIVE AGE-APPROPRIATE VACCINATIONS
Childhood immunizations, flu shots and boosters at all ages, pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations for older adults, and others help your body fight off illness. Ask your doctor what vaccinations you need.
6. DON'T SMOKE
Smoking decreases immune cells, weakening your body's ability to avoid and fight infections. Give up smoking, and this process can be reversed.
7. BE SKEPTICAL
Many products that claim to boost immune system health, including very high doses of vitamins and minerals, are not proven, not regulated and may not be safe. Talk to your healthcare provider before adding new supplements to your regimen.
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