Everyone knows somebody who never seems to get sick. But did you ever wonder why? It’s not because they are able to avoid exposure to germs. That’s nearly impossible! It’s because their immune system is able to keep them healthy.
According to Jessica DeCostole, MS, RD, a dietitian educator in the Good Health Center at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, there are a number of simple ways to build an immune system that can help you stay well and avoid illness.
“Many people eat a lot of junk and processed foods over the holidays and don’t get the exercise or sleep they need. This can have a negative impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and the flu,” she explains.
Eat a Balanced Diet
“You need many nutrients to support your immune system,” DeCostole says. “So focus on eating whole foods that provide lots of vitamins and minerals. Making healthier food choices and eating lighter will help you feel better and lose weight, if that is a goal.”
Many people find it hard to stay hydrated during the winter months. Poor hydration weakens the immune system and can lead to nutritional and other imbalances that can cause health problems. “Being properly hydrated can help you lose weight, too,” she adds. “In fact, many people mistake thirst for hunger, causing them to consume calories they don’t need.”
Exercising is not only a great way to get in shape, it also increases your immune function, improves sleep quality and makes you stronger. “Studies have shown that moderate intensity exercise may cut down on the number of colds you get,” DeCostole says.
Get Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep
Not getting enough sleep has been linked to many health problems, including those that stem from an impaired immune system.“Sleep loss influences how we fight illnesses,” she notes. “If you can, sleep at least seven to eight hours a day.” By adopting just a few healthy habits, you can do wonders for your immune system. That’s the key to staying well all year long.
This article appeared in the winter 2017 issue of Good Health. Read more articles from this issue.
MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
Good Health Center
5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
2nd Floor, O'Neill Building
Baltimore, MD 21239
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