Keep Your Immune System Up as Temperatures Dip

Posted Nov 16, 2011 | Posted in Health & Wellness

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Fall has officially taken up residence in Johnston County, and soon, winter will be on the way. Unfortunately, the drop in temperature tends to be accompanied by a higher frequency of cold and flu symptoms. Your immune system acts as a built-in defense mechanism, protecting against illness and infection. Ensure immune system is up to snuff by incorporating a few simple elements into your lifestyle.

Good Nutrition

Eating well is the first step promoting optimizing your immune system. Good nutrition consists of several components:

Fruits & Vegetables: Rich in antioxidants, fruits and vegetables help promote oxidation, which is a key facet of metabolic health. Some supercharged fruits and vegetables include spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, blueberries, oranges and pomegranates.

Healthy Proteins: White blood cells, which promote a healthy immune system, produce specialized proteins called antibodies. Antibodies play a critical role in locating and destroying foreign viruses and bacteria. Since these vital fighting forces are composed of protein, it’s important that your diet includes a healthy amount of protein-rich components. For instance, fish, poultry, lean meat, soy and low fat dairy products are all great examples of healthy protein choices.

Cultured Diary Products: Not all bacteria is bad. In fact, your digestive tract is home to good bacteria that helps digest fiber, minimize intestinal gas and produce vitamins. The presence of good bacteria also helps reduce available space for potentially bad bacteria. Some of the best sources of ‘good’ bacteria are low fat yogurt and kefir.

Specific Vitamins 

Vitamins are a crucial part of good health. Vitamins A, E and C are most closely associated with stimulating immunity and neutralizing free radicals. This helps protect you against cancer. The daily intake requirements for these vitamins are minimal and easy to achieve: Vitamin A is equivalent to one carrot, a full day’s Vitamin C is found in one orange and approximately two tablespoons of vegetable oil can fulfill your daily level Vitamin E.

Indoor Humidity

Indoor humidity is another way to ward off potential illness during cold weather. The presence of humidity, ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent, prevents mucous membranes from becoming dehydrated. Mucous membranes protect the fine hairs (cilia) that line the nose that guard the body against invading germs. Humidity levels can be easily achieved by purchasing a humidifier, which are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Hydration

Hydration is one of the simplest, yet often overlooked, ways to improve immune function and overall health. Avoid sugary, carbonated beverages which can act as dehydrators. Stick with water instead. Rather than drinking only when thirsty, try to drink throughout the day. If you wait for thirst, you’ve already become dehydrated. Maintaining a constant intake of water throughout the day can help your body operate at its best all winter long.

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