Good Natured

Immune Health Basics

Help yourself help yourself

By Karen Frye

All of us are now clearly aware of the importance of maintaining a very healthy immune system. It is the body’s defense against invading germs, viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that we are constantly exposed to every day.

Some people have a healthier immune system than others. It’s hard to say why. Is it simply the hand you were dealt when you came into this world? Maybe so. But even if you were born with a less robust immune system, you can make it stronger and more dependable by having a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy diet is a key element in preventing, and recovering from, any disease. Sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and many other issues. Sugar can deplete nutrients and disrupt hormones, increasing the risk of degenerative diseases. When you crave something sweet, go for some fruit or a bite of dark chocolate. One of my favorites is a small dark chocolate honey mint.

Spring and summer are great times of the year to improve your diet by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals. Many of us have planted gardens. The farmers markets will be filled with a beautiful bounty of berries, melons and vegetables. The prices can’t be beat, and you’ll find the freshest produce around in them.

The convenience of fast food (and other poor food choices) has made nutritional deficiencies common among our population. Many of the vital nutrients our bodies need aren’t contained in these foods. Instead, we are ingesting chemicals, preservatives and unwanted hormones that can undermine our health.

There is a lot to be said for taking supplements to keep the immune system healthy. Vitamin C has outstanding benefits, and vitamin D is another common nutrient that many people may need to supplement. Try to get out in the sunshine for 10-20 minutes a day to increase vitamin D levels. Choose a time of day like the morning or late afternoon to reduce skin damage. Go for a walk and enjoy nature. The mineral zinc has become a key nutrient because of its ability to reduce the risk of susceptibility to viruses and ease the recovery from them.

Do your research. Eat well. Sleep well. Think positive thoughts. Don’t be afraid; fear weakens your immune system.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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