Your Best Defense- Your Immune System Health

Many think it’s cold weather that causes you to get sick when the real issue is germs. Germs make you sick, not cold weather itself. You have to come in contact with rhinoviruses to catch a cold. And you need to be infected with influenza viruses to contract the flu. Rhinoviruses peak in spring and fall, and influenza viruses peak in winter.

The average person gets 200 colds in his or her lifetime. With those stats, we need to take better care of ourselves to boost our immune system to fight off those viruses. A few ways to do this are:

  1. Limit how often you touch your face, which brings germs on your hands (from door knobs, pens, phones, etc) closer to your eyes, nose and mouth where they can enter the body.

  2. Wash your hands with soapy water regularly, especially before you eat since many foods are hand-held.

  3. Cook meats thoroughly and wash fresh produce well. Just because you are not sick, does not mean the people who handled those items before you were not!

  4. Get enough sleep

  5. Exercise on a regular basis

Diet plays a huge role in building a healthy immune system as well. Here are some healthy foods to help boost your immune system and keep you healthy this fall and winter:

  • Red bell peppers: citrus fruit comes to mind when we think vitamin C, but red bell peppers have twice as much as citrus. Try adding chopped red bell pepper as a taco topper or snack on mini sweet bell peppers.

  • Garlic: early civilizations used garlic to fight infections. It may also help lower blood pressure and prevent hardening of arteries. And, let's face it, it goes with just about every dish.

  • Yogurt: check the label for “live active cultures” or the culture names in the ingredient list like L. Acidophilus or S. Thermophilus. A healthy gut is key to fighting off bugs. A few other sources of probiotics are kefir, kimchi, kombucha and probiotic supplements.

  • Green tea: since green tea is steamed and not fermented like black tea, it retains more epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, an antioxidant that’s been shown to enhance immune function

To hear more immune-boosting foods, listen to episode 74 here.

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