It’s cold and flu season and it’s your immune system’s job to protect you against germs, viruses, bacteria and other invaders. A weakened immune system leaves the body vulnerable to virtually every type of illness and disease. Factors that impair immune function include nutrient deficiencies, contaminated air, water and food, unhealthy lifestyles and too much exposure to harmful microbes.
Exercise can help boost your immune system, but it can also break it down. Good nutrition is a must for immune system health and nutritional supplements have immune-boosting properties.
Research has shown exercise increases the production of macrophages, cells that attack the bacteria that can trigger upper respiratory diseases. Following exercise, there is an increase in circulation of cells that enhance immunity in the body. Within a few hours after exercise these levels return to normal in the body, however, it is thought regular exercise may extend periods of immunity.
On the flip side, too much exercise may have a negative impact on immunity. Two hormones produced during exercise, cortisol and adrenaline, raise blood pressure, elevate cholesterol levels, and temporarily weaken the immune system. According to research, exercising at a moderate intensity at least 40 minutes per day helps the body resist a variety of diseases and conditions. However, high-intensity endurance activities lasting 90 minutes or longer may increase your susceptibility to infection for up to three days.
Your body has an amazingly complex and effective system for protecting itself from invaders. Help prevent infections and stay healthy by exercising, eating well and considering supplements.
6 Immunity Boosting Supplements
Echinacea, or purple coneflower, can help fight colds and flu. This herb works by increasing the numbers and activity of white blood cells. It also increases the production of interferon, a chemical that is critical to the immune system response.
- Vitamin C
Good dietary sources of the antioxidant vitamin C are citrus fruits, green peppers, cantaloupes and broccoli.
These friendly bacteria help keep your digestive tract healthy and boost immunity. Probiotics alter the balance of microflora in the gut by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and favouring those that aid digestion and help fight infection. Use probiotics to reduce the symptoms and duration of the common cold.
- Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D may put you at risk for upper respiratory diseases. Vitamin D can help your body fight infections.
- Oregano Oil
Oregano essential oil fights infections naturally due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds.
Zinc is a mineral that increases the number of white blood cells to fight infections.