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Heather's Health Habits, LLC

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  • Heather L. Donahue, CHN

Boost Your Immune System To Avoid Colds And Flu


The Flu is here! Reports of Flu across the United States are starting to surface in the news with reminders to get the flu vaccine. But what if you don't want to get the vaccine? What can you do to boost your immune system while others are getting sick?

A few simple things.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

70% of our immune system is in our digestive system. If something is not right, you will know it! Symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and being moody are all signs that your digestive system is not working properly. If you have some (or all) of these symptoms, one easy thing you can do is to take a food allergy test.

A food allergy test will identify any foods that are allergies or sensitivities so you can eliminate them from you diet. When we eat foods that our body sees as a threat, it weakens our digestive system because the body is fighting against the food. The body gets tired and let's disease and illness take over. You can go to EverlyWell.com to purchase an at home food allergy test.

Do you need help figuring out if your digestive system needs help?


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EXERCISE

Routine exercise helps kill pathogens that are in the body since it boosts the immune system. WebMD reports that in one study in the American Journal of Medicine, women who walked for a half-hour every day for 1 year had half the number of colds as those who didn't exercise. Researchers found that regular walking may lead to a higher number of white blood cells, which fight infections.

Walking is a great way to get exercise every day and it doesn't have to cost anything. If it is cold or bad weather where you are, find an indoor mall that opens early just for walkers. If you can afford it, join a gym and walk on the treadmills. You may even get inspired to start lifting weights or take a class!

TAKE SUPPLEMENTS

Certain supplements taken routinely can promote a healthy immune system. The key is to begin taking them before you feel like you are getting sick. Studies on probiotics show that they can prevent and even reduce cold and flu symptoms since probiotics provide healthy bacteria to our gut. For example, researchers found that taking Bifidobacterium bifidum reduced symptoms in stressed college students. Another study showed that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG eased upper-respiratory tract symptoms in children attending day care.

"Much of the immune system consists of, or is programmed by, cells in the gut lining," says Jennifer Kaumeyer, ND, of the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, Kansas. "Probiotics and zinc are among the supplements that help keep these cells healthy." (Source: Delicious Living)

So how much should you take? Daily, take 3-5 Billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs) year round. Not only will probiotics help boost your immune system, it will help your digestive system stay healthy. Look for a supplement that combines Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which are the most plentiful bacteria in our bodies.

Another daily supplement shown to support the immune system is Vitamin D. It is more than a coincidence that the cold and flu season occurs when people get less seasonal sunlight. We need vitamin D to activate a variety of germ-fighting immune factors. A study of high school students found that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily reduced the risk of catching the flu by 83%. Take 2,000 - 5,000 IU (International Units) every day but if you feel like you are getting sick, you can take as much as 10,000 IU daily during the first three days of a cold.

DRINK MORE WATER - A LOT MORE

Staying hydrated is key to helping prevent colds and flu. One recent study found that staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight the viruses. (Source: Everyday Health) Most of us are dehydrated ever day. We should be drinking half our body weight in water every single day. That means if you weigh 100 pounds, you should be drinking 50 ounces of water a day.

The good news is that herbal tea counts as water. Plus, drinking herbal tea can give you powerful antioxidants that keep you healthy. Antioxidants help support the immune system by fighting free radicals in the body. The extra support from antioxidants will help you prevent colds and flu.

GET PLENTY OF SLEEP

Sleep is one of the best ways to stay health plus prevent colds and flu. When we are tired or sleeping few hours, our body gets run down and unable to fight for us. The body needs sleep to replenish and repair itself. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night will help your immune system stay strong. If you can't get 7 hours every night, try for at least three to four days a week.

LAUGH OFTEN

This may seem like a silly activity to take part in but laughing can help boost your immune system. Laughter helps reduce stress, which means our immune system can focus on keeping the body healthy. When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol which can help us avoid injury and harm. Unfortunately, our daily stress means our body gets overworked in trying to help us avoid injury and harm resulting in a weakened immune system. So try to laugh every day!

I hope you enjoyed this article on how to boost your immune system to avoid colds and flu. It can be as simple as noticing if your digestive system is ill, exercising, taking supplements, drinking water, getting plenty of sleep and laughing often.

Do you think you will try any of the above to boost your immune system? Let me know in the comments below.

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#wellness #healthy #healthybody #healthtips #selfcare #lifestyle #flextarian