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10 Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System

Winter is here and, especially with the cold and flu season, it’s important to know what we can do to keep a strong and balanced immune system to stay healthy and avoid infections.

1. Eat a balanced diet with whole foods
You need many nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as minerals zinc, selenium, and Omega 3s, to support your immune system. Focus on eating whole foods, such as quality animal protein, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Avoid processed meats, soft drinks, fried foods, processed baked goods, or products with artificial sweeteners or refined sugars. Eating a lot of them suppresses the immune system.

2. Get plenty of vitamin C
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, which aid to strengthen our immune system and keep our body healthy. Good food sources of vitamin C include berries, kiwi, citrus, bell peppers, and dark green vegetables.

3. Use herbs and spices
Cook with onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, allspice, curry, and turmeric. They contain components that help to boost the immune system.

4. Drink a lot of clean water
The production of lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells is induced by water. That’s why, one of the best things you can do for your health is staying hydrated. To provide extra vitamin C, add one slice of lemon, for an extra boost.

5. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day
Chronic fatigue is known to expand the risks of illness. The body strengthens and rejuvenates when it’s at rest. Try to sleep 7 to 8 hours per day, and take an afternoon nap, if needed.

6. Say hello to friendly bacteria
About 80% of the immune system is located in our digestive system. So to keep a strong immune system, keeping a healthy gut is very important. Probiotics are good bacteria that can be found in fermented and whole foods, such as yogurt or in the form of supplements.

7. Avoid antibiotics (if possible)
They’ve been shown to attack good bacteria in the digestive system and suppress immune functions. That’s why, try to avoid antibiotics as much as possible. See if you can find a natural alternative first, unless you really have to take them.
If you have a cold, sip on a cup of hot water with ginger, lemon, and organic honey. You can also get zinc, which is great for flu and cold. Drink a lot of water and make sure you get plenty of vitamin C. Take quality probiotics if you’re taking antibiotics or any other medication.

8. Exercise!
Exercising is not only a great way to get in shape, but it also increases our immune function, makes our body stronger and improves sleep quality. Find the time to workout, even if it’s only a long walk, in case you do not have any health conditions that prevent you from exercising.

9. Soak up some sun
Vitamin D is important to strengthen our immune system, so try to go outside a few times a week without sunscreen, for about 30 minutes, when the sun is not at its highest. You can also get little doses of vitamin D from fatty fish.

10. Relax, laugh, and enjoy life
Depression and chronic stress can weaken the immune system and makes us more vulnerable to illness. It’s important to take the time to have fun and enjoy life!

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian