Keep your immune system strong

By Carol Marak - Aging Matters

During these tough times of the coronavirus, please stay healthy and keep your immune system strong. A recent newsletter from eDoc Health offers good information on keeping our immune system healthy and fit. Dr. Anita Bennett, MD, wrote the newsletter and gave beneficial tips to help us fight the flu and other viruses.

Lifestyle factors that impact your immune function include:

– Exercise – Depending on your level of exercise, it can be good or bad for your immune function. Maintaining a regular exercise routine, which consists of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, has been shown to improve your immune response and lead to significantly fewer respiratory infections.

Avoid the high-intensity workouts. It’s been shown that exercising for more than 90 minutes at a time on a regular basis could increase respiratory infections.

– Stress – Your immune system works better at fighting illness when your body is not under stress. In one series of studies from Carnegie Mellon University, people were given nose drops containing a cold virus. The people who reported less stress in their lives were significantly less likely to develop cold symptoms even though they were exposed to the same amount of cold virus. Worrying about the coronavirus or the stock market doesn’t help your stress level! Learn techniques to manage stress.

– Sleep – Improving your sleep habits is a good way to strengthen your immune system. You should try to sleep 7-8 hours per night. Try to get into a regular routine, with your bedtime and wake time not varying more than about 30-45 minutes each day. Avoid excessive lighting in the evening, especially screen time late in the evening. You need the dim light to trigger your natural melatonin release to help you get a better night’s sleep.

– Dietary factors – Vitamin D – There is promising research to suggest that maintaining a normal vitamin D level could help your body fight off respiratory infections. You might talk with your doctor about checking your vitamin D level, and taking vitamin D supplements if it is low.

Studies link excessive alcohol consumption to a lowered functioning immune system. Research indicates that people who drink alcohol in excess are more susceptible to respiratory infections and that they recover from infections and wounds more slowly.

A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, with low levels of simple sugars, can improve the health of the microbiome of your gut. You may be surprised to know that your gut microbiome has a huge effect on your immune function.

Despite many claims to the contrary, there is no single food or natural remedy that has been proven to improve immune function. You can read various claims about the immune-boosting properties of a number of foods, spices, and supplements, including ginger, turmeric, oregano oil, bone broth, zinc, and more.

By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

Carol Marak is an aging advocate, She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate, She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.