In order for the immune system to function well, it requires balance and harmony. Researchers are testing the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand. Here are some points for healthy lifestyle that can boost your immune system and protect it:
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight..
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.
Age and immunity
Reduction in immune response is observed in older people. There is a strong relation between nutrition and immunity in the elderly. Older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets. One important question is whether dietary supplements may help older people maintain a healthier immune system. Older people should discuss this question with a physician who is well skilled in geriatric nutrition, because while some dietary supplementation may be beneficial for older people, even small changes can have serious consequences in this age group.
Does being cold make you sick?
Almost every mother has said it: “Wear a jacket or you’ll catch a cold!” Is she right? So far, researchers who are studying this question think that normal exposure to moderate cold doesn’t increase your susceptibility to infection. Most health experts agree that the reason winter is “cold and flu season” is not that people are cold, but that they spend more time indoors, in closer contact with other people who can pass on their germs. A group of Canadian researchers that has reviewed hundreds of medical studies on the subject and conducted some of its own research concludes that there’s no need to worry about moderate cold exposure — it has no detrimental effect on the human immune system.
Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold
In 2007, a study was carried out to discover whether oral doses of 0.2 g per day or more of vitamin C reduce the incidence, duration or severity of the common cold when used as continuous prophylaxis (regularly every day) or as therapy after onset of symptoms. At the end of the study they reached to this conclusion: The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine prophylaxis is not justified. Vitamin C could be useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise. While the prophylaxis trials have consistently shown that vitamin C reduces the duration and alleviates the symptoms of colds, this was not replicated in the few therapeutic trials that have been carried out. Further therapeutic RCTs (Randomized Controlled Trials) are warranted.
- Hemilä, H., Chalker, E., & Douglas, B. (2007). Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd000980.pub3