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Use Your Immune System to Prevent Flu


What Causes the Immune System to Weaken?

Your immune system can lose some of its protective effects when your body is constantly battling negative health habits such as a poor diet, little sleep, and too much stress. As such, it's not surprising that doctors frequently recommend certain lifestyle changes as a way to optimize the function of your immune system.

What's the Most Important Lifestyle Change to Boost Immunity?

Reduce stress. A steady cascade of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, negatively impacts the body's ability to stay well. Findings show that reducing levels of stress through relaxation techniques, daily exercise, and coping skills helps your body maintain physical and emotional health.

What Else Can I Do to Boost Immunity?

To boost immunity, get plenty of sleep -- every night. Prolonged sleep deprivation wears down immune protection while getting adequate rest each night helps to boost your defenses. Try to aim for seven to eight hours sleep for the best immune function.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Stay Well?

Try some ways to boost IgA, a protein from the immune system that helps fight infections. IgA is thought to play a critical role in keeping pathogens from entering your body -- and capturing those that do get in.

Clinical studies have shown that while stress reduces IgA levels; laughing, having a strong support system, engaging in positive relationships, listening to music, and even having sex can boost IgA levels. .

Moderate exercise three or four times a week also increases immune function while working out too much can run down the immune system.

Are There Foods I Can Eat to Boost Immunity?

Studies published in the journal Chest in 2000 showed chicken soup can pump up immune power and may help you get well faster. In addition, mushroom varieties such as reichi, maitake, and shitake may have some powerful influence on immune function as well as enhance production of tumor necrosis factor, interleukins, and interferon. Also, stick with a mostly plant-based diet that's low in red meat and high in fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish.

Are There Other Immunity-Boosting Tips?

Take some time daily to be happy. Smell the roses. Enjoy life's journey and listen to your favorite tunes. Some findings indicate that listening to just 30 minutes of music increases IGA levels in the body.

Also important, keep your hands clean. Nothing beats the power of frequent hand washing to keep germs at bay. By washing hands thoroughly -- and often -- throughout the day, you can stay healthier and help your immune system protect you from the flu and catastrophic diseases.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on June 21, 2012
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