Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Best Immune Buster = Fitness + Sleep + Nutrition

This is a great article b

Excerpt from Fitness + Rest + Nutrition = Best Immune Buster

You're washing your hands and covering your coughs. You've had a flu shot. You're trying to escape the cold-and-flu season in one piece. What more can otherwise healthy people do to avoid getting sick in a germ-filled world?

"All of these various remedies you can buy, frankly, most of them are untested," said David L. Woodland, an immunologist at the Trudeau Institute, a nonprofit research center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Woodland says the real secret to staying healthy is staying healthy.

"The most important thing you can do is to actually stay very healthy," he said. "The immune system is directly related to your general state of health."

One well-established drag on the immune system is stress. Chemicals released by the body during periods of strain suppress the immune system, Woodland said. This fight-or-flight response to dangerous or urgent situations was probably fleeting for our human ancestors, he said.

"The problem in our modern world," he said, "is that we're under stress for long periods of time."
Therefore, any kind of stress-relieving activity--from various forms of meditation to exercise--is an investment in a healthier immune system.

Woodland notes that aging takes a toll on the immune system. People do tend to get fewer colds as they age because their immune systems have developed defenses against many kinds of cold viruses.
However, he said, at about the age of 70, "the immune system decline outweighs the benefits you've been accruing," and the individual becomes more prone to illness. That doesn't mean, however, that an older immune system is a sitting duck.

Sleep is another staple of robust immunity. McElhaney said older bodies tend to cool down too early in the morning and that this can awaken an individual at 3 a.m. or so. "We recommend that older people not turn down their thermostats at night, or [to] use electric blankets or take a hot bath at night," she said. Good sleep hygiene is a good idea too such as going to bed at night and waking up around the same time every day, turning off the lights and limiting food near bedtime.  National Sleep Foundation is a good resource.

Some studies suggest that dropping a few pounds has immune-building health benefits. A team at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy found that when a group of adults with high cholesterol lost weight on a healthy diet, most also showed evidence of improved immune function.

I would like to add this additional advice ... eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is known to make for a strong immune system, protect DNA, resulting in increase energy, sleep better and improve mental focus. The USDA recommends 9 - 13 fruits and vegetables everyday. If you are unclear what this would look like go to ChooseMyPlate.gov.  If it's hard to get those 6 cups of fruits and vegetables in check out whole food supplements.  

A moderate balanced diet, exercise, sleep and stress relief--it sounds like a recipe for overall health, and that's just what it is, said Anthony Vella, an assistant professor of immunology at the University of Connecticut.

"General health is good not just for the immune system, but for lots of things," he said.

Your partner in health,
Cindy Cohen RN
Health Consultant

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