The body’s defense network, the immune system, responds to infection, injury, and illness by creating inflammation—fever, swelling, pain, redness—while it attacks foreign particles in the body. The immune system works to reset homeostasis, the body’s natural ability to heal. Maintaining a strong healthy immunity is vital for all ages, during all seasons, especially so during cold and flu season when the risk of lowered immunity increases. While researchers and scientists work to understand the intricacies of the human immune system, we can safely assume that choosing a healthy lifestyle is a simple step toward defending ourselves and our families from infection and disease.
According to Harvard Medical School, prevention is the best method toward maintaining a healthy immune system, and the website emphasizes these practices:
• Don’t smoke
• Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
• Exercise regularly
• Maintain a healthy weight
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
• Get adequate sleep
• Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly
• Try to avoid stress
Immunity for Kids 1 to 18 Years
To help kids stay healthy and support their robust immune systems, encourage them to eat nourishing foods, get frequent exercise, and play outdoors in the sun. Help fortify strong immunity by providing nutritious fruits and veggies: Citrus fruits, such as oranges and clementines are packed with vitamin C; dark green vegetables have plentiful vitamin A and antioxidants.
Teach kids good hygiene practices, such as how to wash hands thoroughly every time they enter the home, always before eating, and after visiting the bathroom, outdoor playtime, and handling items that may spread disease. Over time, frequent hand washing will become routine. When soap and water are unavailable, ensure clean hands by providing hand sanitizer.
Several times a week, for at least 30 minutes a day, encourage outdoor activities—running, jumping, climbing, playing games—to absorb adequate amounts of vitamin D, which is essential for strong immunity.
For those concerned that a child doesn’t consume a well-balanced diet or get enough outdoor playtime, talk to the child’s pediatrician to discuss whether supplements might be warranted. Fresh Thyme has a wide selection of safe, high-quality vitamins and supplements for children.
Immunity for Young to Middle-Age Adults 19 to 40 Years
Healthy immune systems are linked to healthful and nutritious diets. Deficiencies in vitamins A, B6, C, and E—plus low levels of zinc, selenium, copper, iron, and folic acid—are associated with lowered immunity. Foods that contain these vitamins and minerals and strengthen immunity include almonds, citrus, red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, spinach, turmeric, yogurt, and green tea.
Good hygiene, exercise, and adequate sleep contribute to healthy immune systems. Washing hands frequently, avoiding hand contact with others, getting plenty of exercise and rest, evading stressful situations, and eating well are worth the effort—during good health or while healing from injury or illness.
If you feel your body is deficient of vitamin D or minerals, check with your doctor to discuss which supplements are advised. Then visit Fresh Thyme for a vast array of vitamins and supplements. that contain some or all of the vitamins and minerals listed above. Other supplements, such as are useful to pamper, invite relaxation, and relieve stress.
Immunity for Adults 41 Years and Older
According to Harvard Medical School, age has a significant bearing on immune health. As bodies age, the immune system naturally becomes less efficient and more prone to infection and disease, which is why it becomes ever more critical to maintain a healthy diet, get adequate exercise and rest, and make healthful lifestyle decisions.
Adults ages 41 and older benefit from cardiovascular exercise, high-nutrition diets, plenty of rest, maintaining healthy weight, being outdoors, and low-stress activities. Those who smoke are advised to quit; those who are overweight are advised to see a doctor or dietician for weight-control. Because immunity weakens with age, adults in this age bracket may choose to take supplements to meet daily vitamin and mineral guidelines. A doctor or pharmacist can advise whether supplants are safe, depending on interactions with prescribed medications.
Taking care of overall health and wellbeing is the best way to improve immunity. When we eat well, stay hydrated, move our bodies, and get plenty of rest, we are likely to stay healthy. This cold and flu season, wash your hands, avoid crowds when you can, and focus on feeling your best.