A weak immune system causes people to be highly susceptible to infections more frequently and cause illnesses that may be more severe or difficult to treat. In general, healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand.

Ways to boost your immune system:

Diet that is well balanced, plant based, and low in fat boost our immune system. The immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients — like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E — that can boost immunity function. Because many vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants, they help reduce oxidative stress in our body. Research also shows vitamin D and Zinc supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections by reducing production of proinflammatory compounds in the body and boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders.

Exercise regularly, such as walking daily. Exercise improves your cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of illnesses. Good circulation allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Sleep… get adequate sleep. Research indicates that our white blood cells (which are responsible for fighting infections) reach peak activity while we sleep. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoke contains tar and other toxins that destroy the antibodies that work to keep us healthy. Smoking weakens your immune system, making you more prone to infection. The body then has less ability to fight off a disease and you may remain sick for a longer period of time.

Most importantly, take steps to reduce your chance of an infection with frequent hand washing and avoid direct contact with people who are ill. Older people who tend to have a compromised immune system need to focus on the main strategies to boost their immune defenses. These strategies include a well-balanced, nutritious diet, daily exercise, plenty of sleep, and good hand washing. Take steps now to stay healthy!

Helen Trowsdale, RN,BSN
July 26, 2020