Immunity Boosters That Really Work

Countless supplements alternative remedies,and foods have been touted as immune-system boosters,But a single solution for a flagging immune system in otherwise healthy people has eluded us.”The proof of any purported immune booster is whether it can increase your resistance to infections,” says Marvin M,Lipman,M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser.Vaccines can help,but “no dietary supplement or alternative remedy has so for been shown to do so.”

There are,however,some simple steps you can take.”The strength of the immune system is tied to a healthy lifestyle,exercise,good nutrition,and sufficient rest,” says Janko-Nikolich-Zugrich M.D.,Ph.D., chair man of the department of immunobiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.So get plenty of sleep and exercise,enjoy stress-relieving activities,and try these diet tweaks:

1.EAT FOR VARIETY

Our immune system depends upon having all the essential nutrients in the right balance for its optimal function,” says Walter Willett,M.D., Dr.P.H.,chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.For example,people whose diets are low in iron: selenium; vitamins A,C,and D; and several of the B vitamins may have fewer white blood cells our immune system’s first line of defense against disease.And the white blood cells they do have might be less active.Cover your bases by eating as many types of produce as you can,along with whole grains,lean protein,low-fat dairy,and healthy oils.

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2. DRINK IN MODERATION.

Though a modest amount of alcohol appears to improve the immune response,too much”turns off genes that help defend us against microbes and turns on genes that make us vulnerable.” says Ilhem Messaoudi,Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California,Riverside.In a study in the journal Alcohol,binge drinkers(women who consume four drinks within 2 hours or men who consume five) had fewer disease fighting cells.They also had higher levels of cells that encourage the immune system to be less active.So stick to one drink per day for women or two for men.

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3. TRY a D SUPPLEMENT

Becouse some studies have shown that vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system and older adults may be at risk of developing an insufficiency,a daily supplement of 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 could be considered,especially if one rarely gets out in the sun. But unless your doctor has suggested otherwise,skip supplements of other nutrients unless you have a diagnosed deficiency.

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4. DON’T MEGADOSE ON SUPPLEMENTS.

Large doses of supplement such as vitamin A,iron,and others can actually hamper the immune system.For example,more than 400 micrograms per day of folate. a B vitamin,could impair our natural killer cells.And though we might have some difficuty getting enough zinc in our diets-and trouble absorbing it properly as we age-100 mg or more per day can weaken the immune system.

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