Factors That Affect Your Immune System
by Mila McManus MD
As cold and flu season approaches, I thought I would take a moment to give some tips on creating an effective and strong immune system. Often what makes for a “strong immune system” can be confusing and, when you consider that your immune system is your body’s natural defense against threats to your health, you may think more seriously about taking steps to strengthen it. Let’s make your immune system so strong that it’s always ready to be in fighting mode when the risk for illness is at its highest.
A strong immune system is actually one that is optimized and resting until it is called to action and you can do your part to help yours stay that way by boosting supplements and also understanding several factors that can undermine it.
- Hand Washing: It is very important to remember that influenza and colds are not caused by bacteria, but yet rather a wide variety of viruses. The most common way cold and flu viruses are spread is through hand to hand contact. One of the easiest ways to lower your risk is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water.
- Vitamin D: While colds and flus are caused by viral infections, research shows that your body’s susceptibility to infection is related to, at least partially, an underlying vitamin D deficiency.
- Probiotics: The road to good health is paved with good intestines. Probiotics can help you keep your immune system healthy by helping you ward off disease. Remember that 80% of your immune system lies in your gastrointestinal tract. Good gut bacteria actually turn on disease fighting genes to help suppress those genes that can cause a plethora of health troubles.
- Good Sleep: If you are not getting adequate and restorative sleep, your body will be at risk for a hostile virile takeover. Your immune system is at its best when you are most rested. Also, the more rested you are, the quicker you are more likely to recover if you do catch a virus.