Stay Well: Boost Your Immune System

Help Your Immune System Fight Winter Illness

Does it seem like you always get sick at this time of year? There are powerful things you can do to help you and your family avoid colds and flus. Your best bet is to avoid getting sick in the first place! Try this two-pronged approach.

Eat Smart to Boost Immunity!

The immune system is your body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Many nutrients from food specifically “feed” the immune system, thus strengthening your body’s protective response.

  • Remember your cruciferous. Cruciferous vegetables—such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy—strengthen the liver so it’s better able to flush the body of harmful substances.
  • Skip the sugar. Want a sweet? Reach for whole, fresh fruit! The simple sugars in cookies, soda and pastries can weaken your white blood cells’ ability to fend off foreign invaders … like viruses.
  • Add some zing. Garlic and ginger have antiviral and active molecules that help the body fight off viruses and bacteria. (Worried about garlic breath? Ask your provider about high-quality garlic supplements.)
  • Feed your gut. Fermented foods contain good bacteria, or probiotics, that help the digestive tract fight off foreign invaders. Try sauerkraut or kimchi (cabbage), or yogurt, kefir and sour cream (dairy).
  • Talk with your doc about vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a big role in regulating your immune system. With our dark Northwest winter, your doctor may recommend a daily dose of D for you.
  • Devour fish. Cold-water, fatty fish like salmon and sardines are the highest in omega-3 fatty acids, which enhance the function of certain immune cells. Fish is also a rare source of vitamin D.

Take Preventive Steps!

You can do a lot of things to help prevent you and your family from catching a cold or flu this season.

  • Wash your hands: Good handwashing is the number one way to protect yourself from getting sick. Scrub for at least 20 seconds with soap.
  • Get the flu vaccine: Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot. While it won’t keep you from getting a common cold, it will help protect you and others around you from the flu.
  • Avoid people who are sick: Keep your distance! Sick children/adults should stay home from school/work.
  • Sleep well: Your body needs good sleep for a healthy immune system. Go to bed earlier so your body can get the nightly sleep it needs: adults, 7-8 hours; teens 8-9 hours; “tweens” 9-10 hours; young school-age kids 10-12 hours; toddlers/preschoolers, 11-13 hours.
  • Eat well: Maintain a well-balanced diet of healthy protein, whole grains, healthy fat like olive oil and avocado, limit added sugar, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Read more below!

Eat well, sleep well and be well this winter!

Are you looking for a primary care provider? PacMed offers preventive, primary care through our Family Medicine and Internal Medicine teams. Therapists in our Behavioral Medicine department are also available for counseling.