by Kate Wilson
Have you gotten your first case of the sniffles yet this year? The fall is the perfect time to boost your immune system in preparation for cold and flu season. After all, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that up to 20% of Americans get the flu every year!
Read these ten reasons why your immune system is weak and put yourself on the road to healthier living today.
You aren’t getting enough sleep
If you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re also burning out your immune system. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains it this way, “Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds.” For a good night’s sleep, make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and get at least 7 hours a night.
You’re drinking too much alcohol
According to the National Institutes of Health excessive alcohol consumption makes us more likely to contract a variety of infections, especially those that affect the lungs. Excessive alcohol consumption makes it more difficult to sleep, impairs mental processes and makes it more likely to contract liver disease. While the occasional glass of wine may lead to cardiovascular benefits, excessive drinking creates many health and immunity problems.
You or someone close to you is smoking
Smoking increases the chance of getting bronchitis and other chest infections both for you and those around you. If you needed yet another reason to encourage loved ones to stop smoking, this is it.
You drink soda
One can of soda contains more sugar than we are supposed to consume in an entire day. So if you are drinking soda or getting your sugar high another way, you are suppressing your immune system.
You’re not exercising
Raising your heart rate through exercise increases the flow of oxygen through your body. Not only will a cardio session make your muscles stronger, it will also strengthen your immune system.
You forget to wash your hands
If you’re only washing your hands once or twice daily, that’s not enough to keep germs away. Wash before you eat, wash after you get home from work or from running errands and wash a few times a day at work, especially after shaking hands. Keep hand sanitizer in your purse or car, and always wash for about twenty seconds. Borrow a trick from preschool teachers and sing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself while washing your hands to make sure you’ve cleaned thoroughly.
You’re forgetting Mom’s advice
Turns out Mom and Grandma were onto something with chicken soup and herbal tea at the first sign of a sniffle or cough. These fluids will keep you hydrated and the vapors will help clear nasal passages.
You aren’t eating immunity-boosting foods
Washing hands and other surfaces are critically important to boosting immunity, but what you put into your body important, too. Sweet potatoes, mushrooms and lean beef are among the best foods to help fight off colds.
You are working the night shift
If you reach for the tissues regularly and work the night shift, you may not be maintaining a healthy level of Vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight is a natural way to get vitamin D, so try to spend about 10-15 minutes in the sunlight every day.
You’re only washing your hands
Cold and flu germs can also live on surfaces, not just other people. Wipe off doorknobs, computer keyboards, shopping cart handles and other commonly used surfaces. Clean your hands immediately after touching these germ carriers.
There is something to the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” According to WebMD, studies reveal that laughter can increase antibodies as well as the presence of immune cells. So go ahead and L.O.L.