With COVID lurking everywhere and flu season just ahead, now is the time to build up your immune system to help ward off potential illnesses.
Everyone can benefit from building up their immune system. But knowing if you have a weakened immune system can help when assessing your overall health status.
Signs of a Weakened Immune System
- Stress levels are high
- Always have a cold
- Your digestive system acts up regularly
- Wounds are slow to heal
- You have frequent infections
- Feel tired all the time
First Line of Defense
Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when bolstered by healthy-living practices such as these:
- Don’t smoke
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
- Get adequate sleep
- Take steps to avoid infection by washing your hands frequently
- Try to minimize stress
Antioxidants Strengthen Immune System
Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Vegetables and fruits are healthy foods and rich sources of antioxidants.
Official U.S. Government policy urges people to eat more vegetables and fruits. Concerns have not been raised about the safety of any amounts of antioxidants in food. For more information on antioxidants in foods, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web page on antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Observational studies on the typical eating habits, lifestyles, and health histories of large groups of people have shown that those who ate more vegetables and fruits had lower risks of several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and cataracts.
The Value of Supplements
Most clinical studies of antioxidant supplements have not found them to provide substantial health benefits. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Taking antioxidant supplements may prove helpful if someone’s system is deficient in this area, but in most instances taking additional supplements is not recommended.
No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from physical distancing/social distancing and practicing proper hygiene — can protect you from developing COVID-19. Taking actions to improve your immune health is important, but they don’t protect specifically against COVID-19.