Your immune system is your body’s defense against illness and disease. It’s up to you to help keep it strong throughout your lifetime. People who live long lives have rugged immune systems.
A robust gastrointestinal tract (GI) is your biggest defense against illness. Live probiotic cultures that occur naturally in tempeh, miso soup, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, buttermilk, and dark chocolate feed the friendly bacteria in your intestines that ward off invaders. Even if you eat some of these foods every day, consider taking a probiotic supplement, especially when you’re traveling. Good flora is vital to maintaining a healthy “gut feeling.” Avoid taking antibiotics if possible. Although doctors prescribe them to kill bad bacteria, antibiotics also kill good bacteria in your GI.
Feed your immune system plenty of fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Plant-based foods are rich in the antioxidants and nutrients your body needs for optimal immune system function. Add to your diet immune-enhancing ingredients such as cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, goji berries. onions, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, and shitake and wood ear mushrooms. Learn more about the many beneficial properties of fruits and vegetables in Foods That Heal by Bernard Jensen.
To guard against illness, drink immune-enhancing teas. Echinacea, goldenseal, green, kombucha, and pau d’arco are easy-to-make beverages that defend you. Buy organic teas whenever possible from sustainable and ethical companies such as Mountain Rose Herbs. Avoid alcohol. It suppresses your immune system.
Get moving. People who lead sedentary lives experience more illness than people who are active. Get some fresh air and a little sunshine. Walking, biking, hiking, or doing other forms of moderate exercise outdoors can boost your immune system and ward off depression. If you’re active in the daytime, you’ll sleep better at night. What good is it in living to an old age if you’re creaky and weak?
Get good sleep. Every night matters. When you don’t sleep well, you’re more fatigued the next day and more vulnerable to contagious illnesses. Most adults need about 7-8 hours every day. If you’re chronically sleep-deprived, you put yourself at greater risk for more serious diseases. Sleep builds your immune system and helps you recover from illness quicker. For suggestions on how to improve your sleep, read Natural Sleep Solutions for Insomnia by Casey Adams, Ph.D..
Get vaccinations as needed. Although you get most of your immunizations as a child, some can be beneficial to adults, such as a tetanus booster. Ask your doctor for advice on immunizations such as hepatitis, especially If you travel to foreign countries.
Reduce your stress. When you’re burdened with too much, it depresses your immune system. You know what causes the most tension in your life. A little stress can be a good motivator, but when it gets too high, it can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Whether it’s your job, financial situation, or a difficult relationship, take steps to minimize your worries and negative emotions. Your happiness intoxicates your immune system.