Immune boostingHealth authorities are remind us that wearing a mask will help prevent a virus from spreading, but there are other things we can do to support our immune system.

These suggestions from Danielle Costello, a free-lance writer interested in health, are worth repeating because we tend to forget their effectiveness.

Hand Washing

This one may seem like a no-brainer because most of us wash our hands at the normally expected moments (ie. when we are in the bathroom), but sometimes we forget to do it when it doesn’t come as naturally. Remember, germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth.1  And if you have little ones, remember this list applies to them too.

  • touching objects (cell phones, door handles etc.)
  • shaking hands
  • touching an animal
  • caring for someone who is ill
  • sneezing or coughing

Sleep

Studies show that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick2. The recommended amount of sleep varies for different age ranges. For adults 18-64 it’s 7 to 9 hours. For children ages 1-17 the average is 10 hours, plus naps for little ones.

Do you have trouble sleeping? This article has some excellent suggestions.

Micronutrients

We all know that having a balanced diet is “good for you”, but actually following through with it is another story. It’s easy to end up with a lack of balance in our food intake, usually heavier on the side of nutrient-poor carbohydrates. By adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, we get the benefit of micronutrients that support immune function. To get more vitamins A, D, B and zinc incorporate these foods into your diet:-

  • sweet potato (vitamin A)
  • salmon, trout (vitamin D)
  • beans, eggs, dark leafy greens (B vitamins)
  • wheat germ, wild rice, tempeh, lentils (zinc)

Elderberry

Sambucol, an extract of black elderberry has been shown to reduce the duration of the flu3. Danielle Costello recommends high-tailing it to the health food store to get elderberry syrup as soon as flu symptoms start to appear. It tastes good, and the cost is reasonable.

I take this whole-food supplement as a way to slip a little elderberry into my diet. Available in capsules, or chewables they are a convenient solution.

Sources:

  1. “Show Me the Science—Why Your Hands?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html
  2. “Lack of Sleep—Can It Make You Sick?” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
  3. “The Effect of Sambucol.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11399518