HOW are you caring for your immune system?

By David Sauro

‘Eighty percent of your immune system is in the gut, so when it’s healthy, we tend to be able to fight off infections faster and faster. When it is not, our immune system is weaker and susceptible to fighting off infection,’ said Doctor Lin of the Center for Integrative Medicine in Cleveland. She recommends a Mediterranean style of eating, which is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats found in foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and olive oil. These foods are high in nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, and other antioxidants shown to help reduce inflammation and fight infection. Lin explains that it is beneficial to include fermented foods, such as yogurt, in your daily diet, which helps build up healthy bacteria in your gut that will support a healthier immune system.

A healthy diet is key to having a strong immune system and ensures that your gut is getting sufficient amounts of micronutrients. Some of the important Vitamins and foods are as follows:

Vitamin B6, found in chicken, salmon, tuna, bananas, green vegetables, and potatoes.

Vitamin C, found in citrus fruit, including oranges and strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach.

Vitamin E, found in almonds, sunflower and safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and spinach.

In addition to watching what you eat, it is also important to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water plays many important roles in your body including supporting the immune system. There is a fluid in the circulatory system called lymph, which carries important infection-fighting immune cells around your body, is largely made up of water. Being dehydrated slows down the movement of lymph, leading to a weak immune system. People tend to be more mindful of water consumption during the warmer months, it becomes more difficult to remember to stay hydrated during the colder months. Hot teas or other hot water drinks such as lemon and honey can be an easy substitute for quenching your thirst.

To move your body daily is a powerful way to boost your overall health as well as your immune system. Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. The benefit of an active body is good circulation, which allows blood cells and the lymph to move through the body freely and effectively. Like anything else, moderation is the key to exercise, finding that sweet spot that works for your body.

So, HOW are you taking care of your immune system today? Your health is depending on it!

This is the third of a three-part miniseries on having a Strong Immune System. We want to hear from you, whether it is about this article, COVID-19, or anything else health-related.
Originally published in The Barnstable Patriot 2/4/22