5 Easy Ways To Boost Your Immunity…

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Your immune system is like an internal body guard.  Its job is to protect you from the danger of viruses, fungi, bacteria, infections and cancers that may try to attack and invade your body.  Like any well-trained guard, your immune system remembers previous attackers and prepares for the next attack so it won’t happen again.  Unfortunately, if you don’t treat it well it can’t do its job.  Boost your body’s best defenses and follow these six steps to keep your immune system on its job.  

1. Fill Up Nutritionally
Proper nutrition is the foundation for good health. The foods you choose can either help or hinder your immune system function.  There are certain foods that actually enhance your immune system including:

•    Nuts and whole grains
•    Vitamin C sources such as citrus fruits and broccoli
•    Garlic
•    Foods rich in zinc such as beans, beef, crab and turkey
•    Carrots and yams
•    Omega-3 fatty acids including those found in tuna, mackerel, flaxseed oil, salmon and nuts
•    Good sources of the nutrient selenium including chicken, eggs, brown rice and tuna

Excessive eating that leads to obesity, however, will harm your immune system. If you are one of the 4 out of 5 African American women who are overweight or obese, or one of the 30 percent of black men who are overweight, losing weight and eating right will help enhance your weakened immune system.

2. Move Your Body Regularly
Studies have shown that regular and consistent moderate exercise leads to substantial improvements in immune system health over time.  During exercise, immune cells move quicker through the body and are better able to attack and kill bacteria and viruses.  Researchers believe this affect is more long-term for those who get moderate exercise regularly. 

Early studies reported that recreational exercisers reported fewer colds once they began running. Moderate exercise has been linked to a positive immune system response and a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria. It is believed that regular, consistent exercise can lead to substantial benefits in immune system health over the long-term.

Strenuous exercise, however, has been proven to weaken the immune system for up to 72 hours after the activity. During intense exertion, the body releases hormones that temporarily lower the immune system’s ability to respond.

3. Sleep Deeply
Deep sleep refreshes and energizes the body’s immune system while lack of sleep weakens your body’s defenses.  During deep sleep your immune system activates to fight off disease. If you’re only getting three to four hours of sleep a night you are probably not getting enough quality sleep to stay healthy.  Make sure you get the right amount of sleep your body requires. Everyone may not need 8 hours of sleep, but if your body is still tired after 5 hours, for example, try on  6 hours of sleep for size and continue to increase your nightly hours until your body no longer feels tired. 

4. Quit Smoking Quickly
Your immune system’s job is to identify and attack invaders. When you smoke, you bombard you’re your body with thousands of chemicals and cancer-causing agents for your immune system to go after.  The more you smoke, the harder your immune system has to try to work.  While your immune system is working to fight off the thousands of invaders you introduce through smoking, other invaders are able to get in.  Fortunately, your body begins to return to normal within a few hours of quitting. If you smoke, create a personal game plan to give up the habit and talk to your doctor for support. 

5. Drink Moderately
Alcohol abuse can cause immunodeficiency, or malfunction in the immune system. Studies show people who abuse alcohol are more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis and other contagious diseases.  Alcohol in moderation, however, is okay. In fact, a 2007 British study shows that the moderate consumption of polyphenol-rich beverages such as wine and beer are actually beneficial to the immune system.  The key is to understand that moderation is one or two drinks.

6. De-Stress Daily
No one has a magic wand to wave stress away. There’s work, family, relationships and everything else in life that keeps stress alive and well.  Stress hormones harm your immune system in two ways — they can prevent white blood cells from fighting disease, or they can cause the immune system to become overactive and start attacking parts of your body causing autoimmune system disorders such as fibromyalgia. 

It is how you choose to react to stress, however, that affects your health.  Ignoring issues that cause stress can turn what should be short term into chronic stress, which can cause serious health problems.  Chronic stress increases your risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases that African Americans are already at increased risk of having.  So de-stressing is just as important to your health as it is your sanity.  Figure out what helps you distress and participate in a relaxing activity everyday.  Yoga, massage, hot bubble bath, meditation or watching a movie at home are a few examples of simple ways to relax and de-stress at home.

Written By Kelly Taylor