Flu Season – How to Protect Yourself

Runny noses, coughing, and that overall “icky” feeling, urgh – the Flu. Flu season may be starting soon and there are many ways to naturally increase your immune system to protect yourself from catching that annoying virus this year.It is important to have a strong and healthy immune system. By keeping up with your workout regime, you are actually helping build a healthy immune system as well. It can also be helpful to add a few things in your daily practices.

Vitamin D
Fall and winter are the times when the probability of getting the flu is higher. This is because of the lack of vitamin D absorption that we get from the sun. Vitamin D regulates the immune system by increasing production of broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptides which destroy the influenza virus. At the same time these peptides prevent the body from manufacturing an abundance of inflammatory cells which suppress the immune system. To increase your Vitamin D naturally (other than the sun) try salmon, sardines and cod liver oil.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C boosts the immune system by increasing the level of antibodies and white cell production. Vitamin C also strengthens the respiratory system by reducing inflammation and increasing collagen, which greatly increases our ability to fight against infections and viruses. Some natural sources of Vitamin C are oranges, grapefruit and sweet red pepper, which actually has twice the Vitamin C content of oranges.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E work in tandem with Vitamin C to build our immune system by reducing inflammation. Vitamin E protects the immune cells by protecting the membrane of the cell. It also increases the protection of lymphocytes called natural killer cells that kill germ and cancer cells and it increases the production of antibodies that eliminate bacteria. Natural ways to add Vitamin E into your diet are avocado, almonds, peanuts, dark leafy vegetables, wheat germ and mango.

Carotenoids
Carotenoids are phytonutrients that are responsible for the bright colors of fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are antioxidants that reduce inflammation by destroying free radicals that damage the cells. The main Carotenoids is Beta Carotene. The body converts Beta Carotene into Vitamin A. Beta Carotene increases immune cell production and protects the mucous membranes and lining of the lungs, which increases the ability to fight infections. Find natural Carotenoids in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3s are essential for boosting the immune system. They reduce inflammation and protect the integrity of cell structure. Omega 3s also help to dilate the blood vessels, which helps cells to absorb important nutrients. Natural sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are salmon, cod liver oil and flax oil.

Water
Water is important for healthy cells. Water works as a transport for minerals and vitamins to our cells. Water aids in keeping cells plump allowing them to absorb important nutrients for cell metabolism and proper function.

Exercise
Keeping fit and active is important in keeping the immune system working. Exercise increases blood circulation which is very important. The body needs good blood flow to transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Exercise also decreases cortisol levels, helping alleviate stress which then allows the body to produce immune fighting cells.

Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential. Sleep allows your body to rejuvenate cells and helps the immune system function properly. Sleep also keeps cortisol levels down keeping immune cells at a good level and keeping your energy level up.

Other factors that can naturally help protect yourself from the influenza virus are good levels of:

  • Bioflavonoids
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Decreasing your stress, avoiding sugar, excess alcohol and caffeine is also extremely helpful to protect you from the higher probability of catching the flu.

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