Live Well: Immunity

Immunity- Everyday Ways to Support Your Immune System

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Published: September 19th, 2009
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Our health is constantly under attack.  Fortunately, our bodies are naturally programmed to protect us.  However, without proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, our immune system can struggle.  Sometimes our bodies need a little bit of extra help.  Lucky for us, simple day-to-day things can help give us the extra protection it needs for seasonal defense:

Eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet can give your immune system a better chance to fight off the germs that cause illnesses. If your daily diet doesn’t provide the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, consider taking a multivitamin and other supplements for nutritional insurance. 

Avoid stress. There is a connection between stress and a weakened immune system. To give your immune system a fighting chance, the first step is to identify the main sources of stress in your life. Just identifying where your stress is coming from can help you feel more in control. Then find ways to help you manage your stress.

Get more sleep. The body repairs and restores itself during sleep, and the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night. By not getting enough sleep, the body isn’t prepared to handle the stresses placed on it the next day. A lack of sleep also puts a strain on the body’s immune system.   

Wash your hands – a lot! Germs can be passed by touching surfaces such as doorknobs and telephones, or by shaking hands with someone who is infected. Once your hands are contaminated, rubbing your nose, mouth or eyes makes it easy for viruses to enter the body. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends regularly scrubbing your hands with warm, soapy water for about 15 seconds.

Exercise regularly. Research has shown over and over the impact that adequate physical activity has on our health. A study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health showed that short-duration, low-intensity exercise can significantly increase the number and activity of disease-fighting immune system cells.

When should you start paying attention to protecting your immune system?

People tend to pay more attention to their immune systems during the winter. But the truth is, your immune system has to work hard all through the year. 

Nutritionally, how do you support your immune system?

1.    Load up on antioxidants, which fight free radicals that cause cell damage in your body.   Two great examples of antioxidants that support your immune system are Vitamin C and Vitamin E.  

a.    Good sources of Vitamin C include green peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes and cantaloupes.  Get at least 90 mg of Vitamin C daily, from foods or nutritional supplements. 

b.   Good sources of Vitamin E include nuts, oil seeds and supplements.  Experts recommend at least 15mg of Vitamin E daily.

2.    Sip on some green tea every day.  Green tea contains beneficial compounds called polyphenols that function as an antioxidant.  Antioxidants help protect your cells and tissue from oxidative stress which may activate your immune system.

3.    Enhance immunity with herbs like elderberry and Echinacea that support your immune system and provide seasonal antioxidant defense.

4.    Some things that may surprise you:

a.    Proteins play an important role in the immune system.  In addition to providing amino acids for the synthesis of immune proteins, the amino acid glutamine also serves as fuel for the immune system. 

b.   Research suggests that probiotics may benefit more than just your digestive system.  Some strains of probiotics support natural resistance and the immune system.  Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt and in supplements. 

c.    Vitamin D is known for supporting bone health, but it supports healthy immune function as well

d.   Zinc is an essential mineral that regulates the production of immune cells and supports natural resistance.  Sources of zinc include red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains and supplements.  Experts recommend at least 11 mg of zinc daily. 

Immunity-Boosting Supplements from GNC

1.    GNC Vitamin C – supports natural resistance

2.    GNC Herbal Plus Standardized Elderberry – seasonal defense

3.    New Chapter Immunity Take Care – immune-boosing formula

4.    GNC Preventive Nutrition® Immune Defense – immunity enhancement

5.    GNC Natural Brand® Super Adidophilus – promotes natural immunity

6.    GNC Ultra Zinc Lozenges – supports natural resistance

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