6 Tips to Optimize Immune Function and Stay Healthy
Not only do we face the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the season of colds and flu is nearly here.
At our clinic, we encourage patients to utilize the following tips. They can boost your immune system and help you stay healthy.
- Contact precautions — Prevention is always the best medicine. Cover coughs and sneezes with your inner elbow, wash hands frequently, and take advantage of hand sanitizers and wipes in public places. Additionally, keep your vaccines up to date for your age and the season. Vaccines stimulate the immune system for early recognition and prevention of illness. These steps — in addition to the COVID-19 guidelines — need to become second nature for us all.
- Eat healthy — Give your immune system the nutritional energy it needs for a victorious battle with the bugs. Include a variety of immune-boosting foods in your diet such as fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, garlic, nuts, whole grains and omega 3 oils. Avoid foods that restrict your immune system function. Processed foods, white sugars and saturated fats cause inflammation in your body, distracting the immune system from doing its more important job of fighting illness.
- Sleep — Your immune system requires seven to eight hours of sleep regularly for optimal function. Take the steps to help you get your needed hours. It's just as important as diet, exercise or anything else — don't overlook it.
- Modulate stress — When people are living high-stress lifestyles or dealing with unexpected additional stressors, they are more susceptible to infection. Similar to a poor diet, prolonged stress creates cellular inflammation in the body resulting in decreased immune function. A healthy diet, adequate sleep and regular exercise are a great foundation for stress management. I encourage patients to explore other stress-busting routines such as mind-body movement, tai chi, essential oils, massage, acupuncture, guided imagery, meditation and prayer.
- Nutritional supplements — Multivitamins, B vitamins, zinc, vitamins C and D, and mushroom supplements can benefit immune system function.
- Acupuncture — Treatments with acupuncture can offer benefits such as improving sleep, reducing the effects of stress on the body, and optimizing the function of the immune system.
The most important step is the first one. Beginnings are never easy, but once we take initial steps in the right direction, it is easier to follow the path toward keeping ourselves healthier. In the face of the threats we face today, we have reasons for momentum. During the COVID-19 pandemic we want to help you stay safe and continue to enjoy life. For more information and tips go to Avera.org/safety.