Stay Hydrated. Hydration boosts the immune system. Drink plenty of water as flu viruses prefer dry environments. Water is also important in hydrating the mucus membranes, which are a key component of the immune system.
5 a day fruit and vegetables for Antioxidant protection. There are many known anti-oxidant compounds, over 100 in fact. They are immensely beneficial for the immune system and aid in the repair of damaged cells. The best sources of anti-oxidants are plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Key antioxidants are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Selenium, but there are also many others found in fruits and vegetables, called Bioflavonoids. These are often found in the skins of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
Essential fats. Essential fats play a key role in the cell membrane and maintaining the integrity of cells. They are found in oils rather than hard facts. Excellent sources are fish, olives, coconut, nuts, and seeds.
Alcohol. Excessive alcohol can deprive the body of key nutrients that are important in energy production and cell immunity. High alcohol intake may also inhibit the immune cells' ability to function, making them less able to deal with bacteria and viral infections.
Lifestyle Factors Influencing Immune Strength.
Exercise. Moderate regular exercise has been shown to support the immune system and reduce the risk of viral infections such as flu. Exercise promotes the greater release of macrophage cells, which attack bacteria. Regular moderate exercise has been shown in studies to reduce by half the amount of sick days associated with cold and flu symptoms.
Sleep. Sleep is perhaps the most important lifestyle issue in immunity. The body does all of its maintenance, growth, and cell repair when we are sleeping. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on the immune system and leaves us open to infection.
Reduce Stress. Stress leads to reduced immune function because the physiological stress response causes the release of hormones that suppress the immune system. It is no coincidence that we are most likely to suffer infections when we are stressed and tired.
Supplements for Immune Support.
Herbal supplements. Echinacea is a very powerful herb for the immune system, and it has anti-viral properties. It should be taken when at risk of infection and at first signs. Garlic is a known anti-viral food that can help boost the immune system dues to its high content of sulfur compounds.
Probiotic supplements. The bacteria in our gut and mucus membranes play a key role in the immune response. A strong microflora boosts the body's IgA mediated response to pathogens, and intake of a probiotic supplement has been shown to increase the body's IgA response.
Vitamin & Mineral Supplementation. Some key nutrients are essential for immune strength, and when you cannot always be certain that you are getting enough from your diet, a supplement may be the best way to ensure you are getting all you need. The key nutrients for immune support are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Selenium.
It is important to remember that any supplementation can be dangerous if not done with the correct dosage. Always consult a Nutritional Therapist before taking any herbal, probiotics, vitamin, or mineral supplementation.