Top 6 Ways to Boost Your Immune Health & Stay Flu-Free
1. Optimize Your Vitamin D
This takes the number one position for a reason: if you're vitamin-D-deficient, and many are, your immune system will not activate to do its job. Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, including the flu. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels. That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections.
The best way to increase your vitamin D level is by sun exposure.
2. Optimize Your Insulin and Leptin Levels by Avoiding Sugar, Fructose
Eating sugar, fructose and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the fastest ways to get sick and also experience premature aging. Leptin is another heavyweight hormone associated with disease and the aging process.
Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become elevated, your body systems will develop a resistance to this hormone, which will wreak havoc in your body.
Start a nutrition plan that is based on natural whole foods or superfoods, this is your first step toward optimizing your insulin and leptin levels and increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The heart of my program is the elimination, or at the very least, drastic reduction of fructose, grains and sugar in your diet, which is also important for flu prevention because sugar decreases the function of your immune system.
If you are exercising regularly, just as if your vitamin D levels are optimized, the likelihood of your acquiring the flu or other viral illness decreases quite dramatically, and studies have clearly shown this.
In one such study, staying active cut the risk of having a cold by 50%, and cut the severity of symptoms by 31% among those who did catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise may lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a virus.
It's a well-known fact that exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and defending against viruses and diseases trying to attack your body.
4. Eat Plenty of Raw Food
One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is frequently overlooked is the issue of eating your food uncooked, in its natural raw state.
Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90% of the food purchased in our Modern Society is processed. And when you're consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it's no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases, not to mention way too many cases of colds and flu.
Ideally you'll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally.
Probiotics or cultures of beneficial bacteria compete with harmful bacteria in the GI tract for food and prevent the transport of pathogens into the body. As we get older, we develop a deficiency of beneficial bacteria and therefore become more vulnerable to infections. Probiotics also increase the uptake of important minerals from the GI tract thus preventing deficiencies which lower immunity.
According to Medicinal Food News probiotics can help increase immunity by assisting the body in producing more viral killing cells. Viral killing cells attack viruses as they enter the body and can prevent an individual from becoming ill.
From an article published in Pediatrics, August 2009, a study was done in China with 326 healthy children ages, 3 -5 years old who were in a childcare center. The 1st group received probiotics as lactobacillus acidophilus alone, another group received lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifodbacterium, while the third group received placebo. All of these were given as a powder mixed with four ounces of milk, twice daily
Surprisingly, significantly fewer children in the two probiotic groups than in the placebo group had episodes of fever, cough and runny nose, as reported by both parents and day care providers. In addition, significantly fewer children in the probiotic groups received antibiotics. The three groups did have similar numbers of physicians visits, but mean days absent from day care were significantly lower in the probiotic group than in the placebo group. There were no notable adverse effects noted in the children taking the probiotic mixtures.
There are numerous studies, clinical trials on the use of Probiotics & Prebiotics to boost our immune system and even as a “natural” antibiotic against certain patogens. Choose those with Live cultures & Prebiotics.
6. Learn How to Effectively Cope With Stress
Stress has a major influence on the function of your immune system, which is why you've probably noticed you're more likely to catch a cold or the flu when you're under a lot of stress. This is true for both acute stressful episodes, such as preparing a big project for work, and chronic stress, such as relationship troubles or grief. Both will deteriorate your immune system and leave it less able to fight off infectious agents.
And, in the event you do get sick, emotional stressors can actually make your cold and flu symptoms worse. So be sure you take time in life to de-stress and unwind using stress management tools like exercise, meditation, massage, and solid social support.