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Strengthen your immune system with these four practices

As we move into flu season during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to take as many precautions as possible to stay well. We know getting vaccinated, mask-wearing, social distancing, and avoiding large crowds and indoor gatherings are key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and the flu. But after months of the pandemic, you may be looking for additional ways to keep your family safe. 

Supplements and products on store shelves that purport to boost your immune system might catch the eye. However, they may not be all they’re cracked up to be. There is no evidence that herbs or other concoctions can impact your immune system in a way that makes you better protected against viruses or disease.

The immune system is complex and can’t be chalked up to one specific bodily function. It’s called a “system” because it involves many components coming together to protect you. Like a symphony isn’t just one instrument but a harmonious combination of many, your immune system requires all the body’s systems to work in concert.  

Having an optimally functioning immune system is all about your overall health. Many of the same things you’d do to stay healthy are what the physicians of Tryon Medical Partners Gaston would recommend you adopt to keep your immune system strong.

1. Get enough sleep

Sleep is a key indicator for your overall health, helping not just your immune system but reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. While everybody is different, be sure you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep for your age range.

If you’re having trouble getting the sleep you need, try refreshing your sleep hygiene and don’t hesitate to speak with a sleep medicine specialist.

2. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet

A balanced diet can also optimize your immune system. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and learn how to spot added sugars on your food labels. Meaningful long-term changes to your diet are more healthy and sustainable than dieting alone. 

3. Reduce and manage your stress level

Our mental health works alongside our physical health to keep our body and our immune system functioning well. Racing heart, increased irritability, and difficulty sleeping and concentrating are four signs your body is experiencing heightened stress or anxiety. 

Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help, but your primary care physician is a great resource for developing methods to reduce your stress, including referring you to specialists who can cater to your needs. 

4. Stop smoking and drink in moderation

If you’ve been drinking more during the pandemic, you aren’t alone. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption has increased by 14%. Try to find other outlets to manage your stress, like creative hobbies or exercise and, when you do drink, slow down and do so in moderation. 

There are many reasons to quit smoking, like lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and lung cancer. We can add strengthening your immune system to that list if you need one more.

Maintaining overall health and wellness is a far better way to keep your immune system strong than picking up a product that promises an immune “boost.” Stay up-to-date with visits to your doctor who can help you develop the plan that will keep you well now and for years to come.