Strengthen Your Immune System This Spring:
It seems like everywhere you turn this time of year, everyone is sick or coughing or in some other way under the weather. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you are actually sick with a viral or bacterial infection or just have something such as a seasonal allergy. One quick way to be able to know if you have an infection versus allergies is how quickly you develop symptoms. Infections typically start abruptly and allergies often start slowly. This isn’t always the case, but if you just have a slight runny nose or cough, it’s possible you may just be allergic to something in your environment.
In order to prevent yourself from falling prey to the hundreds of viruses that circulate this time of year, there are a few things to keep in mind in terms of preventing exposure.
1. Wash Your Hands Often
Keep your hands away from your face to prevent the spread of illness. In terms of improving your immune system’s ability to help you fight infection once you become exposed, this is one of the most simple and effective methods.
2. Drink Lots of Water
Our bodies are about 70% water and all of our cells are dependent upon the intake of adequate hydrating fluids in order to function at its best. Our immune cells circulate in our blood stream’s liquid called plasma. Contained within the plasma are immune support proteins called antibodies. In order for the antibodies to do their job, they need plasma to carry them throughout our bodies.
3. Get Enough Rest
Sleep is the time that our bodies repair themselves. By getting enough rest, we allow our bodies to heal, recover, and to rebuild our cells and systems. When we don’t get enough shut eye, our bodies become stressed and taxed which promotes the release of hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol impairs our body’s ability to heal and keep our immune system from protecting us adequately.
4. Eat a Well-Balanced Healthy Diet
Food is what our bodies use for energy and the vitamins and minerals contained within what we eat are utilized to keep our systems performing at their best. Vitamins such as vitamin C, which is contained in citrus containing food like oranges, can help our cells with the oxidative functions our cells need to fight off viruses and repair of DNA. Vitamins such as Vitamin D are helpful to our bones and muscles which can help us to stay active during times of illness. Our bodies also need higher amounts of proteins when we are ill in order to help us make immune fighting substances called antibodies.
6. Avoid Using Cigarettes or Alcohol
These substances interfere with the our bodies normal immune system protectors such as the small hairs that line our respiratory system called cilia and interfere with our liver’s ability to clear toxins from our system. It’s always best to abstain all together from the use of these things that may prevent our bodies from performing at our best, but when we are ill it’s even more important to take the best care possible of your body.
7. Stay Current with your Healthcare
Regular visits to your health care provider can help you stay on track with important items such as immunizations and can help you to take better care of YOU by making sure you have regular examinations of your blood and body to prevent illness and promote health. If you haven’t been seen by your doctor in while maybe now is the time to have a check-up.
The goal for staying healthy and illness free this season is to take the best care of YOU possible. If you aren’t sure what that may mean for you, check with your health care provider who can give you some guidance on what more can be done to help you reach your health care goals and stay well all year long.
Until next time, here’s to the best of YOUR health!
Elizabeth Salada MD MPH
Internal Medicine and Wellness