Keys to Boosting Your Immune System

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Boost Your Immune System

David L. Woodland, an immunologist at the Trudeau Institute, a nonprofit research center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. says the biggest drain on our immune systems in the modern age is stress. Taking the pressure off the immune system helps it build up, he says. Adequate sleep recharges your immune system, not to mention proper nutrition and exercise. Good nutrition does not mean more food—quite the contrary. Losing weight can help build immunity, according to a study by Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.  Carrie Angus M.D. strongly recommends whole, fresh foods. “Fresh foods not only carry a diverse mixture of vitamins and trace minerals absent from most processed foods, they also have vitality.”

Exercise boosts immunity

1) Exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day is enough to trigger this immune response, Nieman says. Compared to staying sedentary, "our data show that this amount of exercise decreases sick days up to 50 percent," he says, citing his research published in April 2011 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 

2) Heavy breathing helps with immunity "Regular exercise has been shown to flush bacteria out of lungs and reduce respiratory infections," says Purvi Parikh, MD, an expert in infectious disease, allergy and immunology with NYU Langone Health in New York City and the Allergy & Asthma Network.

3) Exercise Helps Reduce the Risk of Chronic Conditions, Too. Moving your body also helps keep stress hormones at bay. (What's a better way to simmer down after a tough day than a walk outside?) This, in turn, can help protect you from diabetes, which is key, as the disease can leave you more vulnerable to getting sick in the first place, Dr. Parikh says.

But be sure not to overdo it, since that will have the opposite effect.