A healthy immune system is important year-round and provides extra fortification to prevent and minimize illness from viruses.
1. EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is a great way to boost your immune system so that it can fight off viruses. Nutrients that support your immune system are protein, zinc, vitamin A, C, D & E. Foods that do not support your immune system are sugars, fats and processed foods.
2. BE ACTIVE
Physical activity can become harder with age, but that does not mean you should stop moving. Regular activity and increased blood circulation can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections and viruses. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 days a week.
3. SPEND TIME OUTDOORS
Vitamin D helps strengthen and regulate the immune system. Spending additional time outdoors allows your body to naturally convert vitamin D from sun exposure. If your vitamin D level is low, your doctor may prescribe supplements or recommend a multivitamin.
4. LOWER YOUR STRESS LEVEL
Chronic stress can affect your immune system, decreasing its effectiveness. When under stress, the body increases the production of cortisol, which is a hormone that helps the body deal with stressful situations.
5. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
Sleep deprivation also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. Sleep becomes more important with age because it helps improve brain function, concentration, and memory. Older adults who do not get enough sleep are also susceptible to nighttime falls. Aim for at least seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night. Do not consume any beverages one and a half hours before bedtime.
6. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
If you are overweight, increasing physical activity and adjusting your diet can also help you shed excess pounds. This is important because carrying too much weight has a negative impact on your immune system. Both physical activity and eating a healthy diet can reduce inflammation and keep your immune system healthy and strong.
7. GET A FLU VACCINATION
An annual flu vaccination can reduce your risk of infection by 40 to 60 percent. It can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to be effective. The vaccine works by stimulating your immune system to create antibodies, which can help protect against an infection. You can get the flu shot from your doctor, or at Westminster’s clinic.