Now that flu season upon us it is time to start taking care of yourself. According to the Center For Disease Control, the flu shot this year is not as effective as it has been in the past years. While it's still important to get your flu shot, it's also up to you to try to stay healthy. Washing your hands often and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is important, however, it is just as important that you build up your immune system. If you have a strong immune system, your body will be able to fight off the virus. There are a few natural ways that you can boost your immune system and protect yourself this flu season.
Get Enough Sleep
It is important that you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. When you don't get enough sleep, it can increase the production of the hormone cortisol in your body. When your levels are high for a long time, it can suppress your immune function, making it difficult for you to fight off the flu.
Manage Your Stress
Like lack of sleep, your body produces more cortisol when you are stressed out. For most people, managing stress can be difficult. Work, family, and financial problems are all stress inducers. To try to manage your stress, you can meditate or find time each week to do something that you enjoy. Venting your frustrations is also a great way to reduce stress levels. When your stress levels are down, your immune system will be stronger.
Drink Less Alcohol
Many people find alcohol to be a great stress reliever, however, if you drink excessively, it can impair your immune system. Excessive consumption can also make you vulnerable to lung infections such as pneumonia. If you cut back on your alcohol intake, you have a good chance of staying healthy during flu season. If you are trying to reduce your alcohol consumption but you are struggling, the professionals at Orchard Hospital can give you advice and can recommend a few places where you can get the help that you need.
Stop Using Tobacco Products
The use of tobacco products can reduce the strength of your immune system. Tobacco use can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and various types of cancer. When you stop using tobacco products, you will boost not just your immune system, but your overall health as well.
Eat More Garlic
Garlic is a great immune booster. It is also a great antimicrobial agent. When you cook garlic, it deactivates the key ingredient that boosts your immune system, therefore, it is best to put the garlic into the food right before you serve it.
What you eat has a great deal to do with how strong your immune system is. Vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts all have the nutrients that your body needs to boost your immune system. A recent study was performed on elderly subjects. The study found that the test subjects who added more fruits and vegetables to their diet had a boost in the antibody response to the Pneumovax vaccine, which protects against Streptococcus pneumonia. Adding more healthy foods to your diet is one of the easiest ways to boost your immune system.
Immune Supportive Herbs
A great way to boost your immune system is to start adding immune supportive herbs to your diet. Not only will these herbs help you fight off the flu, they will also prevent you from getting recurring infections. A few options include:
It is a good idea to always keep some echinacea on hand. If you start coming down with a respiratory virus, echinacea will boost your immune system, reducing the amount of time that you are ill.
Exercise and Weight Control
A study was performed at Harvard Medical School, which found that the test subjects who were overweight and didn't exercise got sick more often than the test subjects who were at a healthy weight and who exercised on a regular basis. This doesn't mean that you need to spend every waking hour at the gym. Exercising four or five times a week for an hour a day and watching what you eat will help you keep your weight down, boosting your immune system.
Even though the CDC has mentioned that the flu vaccine is not as effective as it has been in previous years, you should still get vaccinated. The flu can make you feel miserable and it can keep you laid up in bed for a week or more. It can also lead to dangerous complications.
Your best defense against the flu is to visit the Medical Specialty Center at Orchard Hospital - Your Everyday Health Care Clinic to get your flu shot. The more steps that you take to avoid getting the flu, the better.