Cold and flu season is here, which means it’s time to take extra precautions to stay as healthy as possible. Even if you received a recommended flu shot, there are additional ways to put your immune system in its best condition to battle against infection. The experts at NurseWise, a national multilingual nurse triage and health education provider, are pleased to offer five tips to boost your immune system naturally so you can spend the holidays with family and friends – and not the flu.
Snooze like Sleeping Beauty. Studies reveal strong evidence that getting the proper amount of sleep is crucial to the health of your body and maintaining your immune system. In fact, lack of sleep can actually put your immune system in the same state of weakness as stress and impact your white blood cells, which are crucial to your body’s defense. Experts recommend seven to eight hours of sleep each night to maintain physical and mental health. Lack of sleep not only weakens your immune system, it also increases your risk for numerous chronic illnesses.
Diminish the “D” deficiently. As we get less sunshine in an effort to avoid skin cancer, many people are deficient in vitamin D and don’t even know it. The impact of vitamin D on the immune system has become clearer in recent years. Along with being connected to many serious diseases, low vitamin D levels also allow you to be more susceptible to becoming sick because it is an immune system regulator. You can get a blood test to check your D levels, and if they’re low, talk to your doctor about supplements.
Pop those probiotics. The gastrointestinal tract has an enormous impact on the immune system, so keeping your gut in order helps to keep the rest of your body in top fighting condition. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help keep your gut balanced. In addition to helping reduce inflammation and preventing infection in the body, probiotics can also decrease the severity of colds and flu. They may also increase the production of antibodies, which fight bacteria and viruses. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or found in fermented foods, including yogurt. Always talk with your doctor first because probiotics are not regulated by the FDA.
Munch on mushrooms. In addition to beefing up your fruit and veggie intake so your body is getting the nutrients needed to battle the bugs of the season, studies also show certain mushrooms, including shiitake and maitake, have a positive impact on the immune system. Many mushrooms are rich in essential vitamins (including vitamin C and B vitamins) and minerals. Certain mushrooms, including shiitake and maitake, also have antiviral and immune system enhancing effects. Mushrooms have been used medicinally for thousands of years and each is known for varied health benefits, so throw them in a cooked dish or eat them raw.
Shy away from sugar. Studies show that your sweet tooth might be just as bad for your immune system as it is for your waist. Eating or drinking too much sugar suppresses your immune system and its ability to fight off attacks. Almost immediately, there is a drastic decline in your body’s defense when you ingest sugar, which can last for up to six hours. Experts also suggest saying “so long” to any sugar when sick, since it knocks down your immune system and the ability to heal even more.
For more information about preventing and fighting the flu, visit www.cdc.gov.
NurseWise is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation in the business of providing multilingual telehealth (nurse triage and health education) services. They partner with health plans, hospitals, providers, colleges and universities, and other specialty organizations to ensure all callers have access to high quality, appropriate care. Their services are designed to encourage individuals to become active participants in their health care, engaging in activities that promote appropriate utilization of care resources as well as better health outcomes for individuals and their families. They have provided uninterrupted service every day since 1995. NurseWise experienced Customer Care Professionals and Registered Nurses at our Clinical Care CentersTM across the country provide Care. For more information, please visit our website at www.nursewise.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.