5 Tips to Strengthen Your Immune System this Back-to-School Season
It’s that time of year again! As you prepare for back-to-school shopping, you may be overlooking an important factor in making the new school year a success: immune system support. As kids head back to the classroom, there are several tips for maintaining a strong immune system throughout the school year!
Not getting enough sleep can lead to health issues, such as memory problems and depression, but it can also lead to a weakened immune system. Lack of sleep is correlated with higher levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Stress is known to suppress the immune system. Studies have shown that less than 5 hours of sleep negatively affects the immune system, and that 7 to 9 hours of sleep is ideal for adults, and 9 to 11 hours of sleep is ideal for school-age children.
Regular, moderate exercise boosts the cells responsible for attacking bacteria. These cells also appear to work faster in those who exercise, which better equips your immune system against viruses and infections. However, be aware that immune response may dip for several hours after intense exercise. A 30-minute bike ride with your kids or grandkids is a great activity to improve your immune system.
A diet healthy in fruits and vegetables is essential for optimum immune health. Foods high in Vitamins C, D, and E, as well as beta-carotene, a form of Vitamin A, are key for healthy immune systems. Some foods that boost the immune system are:
- fruits, such as grapefruit, oranges, clementines, papaya, kiwi, lemons, and tangerines
- vegetables high in Vitamin C, like spinach, red bell pepper, and broccoli (the last two are also high in beta-carotene)
- garlic, which has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and is known to boost the immune system, thanks to the sulfur-containing compound, allicin
- yogurt, which contains active cultures and Vitamin D that help support the immune system
Almonds, which contain Vitamin E, and just half of a cup provides nearly 100% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin E.
As the adage goes, laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing lowers the levels of stress hormones, while simultaneously boosting white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infection. In one study, men who were told three days in advance that they would be watching a funny video experienced a drop in stress hormones.
There are a number of supplements available that can help support your immune system.
As always, consult with your health care physician before changing your diet, supplement, or exercise routine. Laughing can be done without doctor approval.
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