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Article posted: 2/18/2013 5:00 AM

Boosting immune system will help you avoid colds, flu

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Chances are, you've recently had family members or co-workers sick with a cold or the flu.

This time of year seems to bring on sickness as often as the weather changes. Although you might not be able to totally avoid getting sick, maintaining a resilient immune system may lessen the severity, duration and frequency of illness.

The following tips are natural ways to boost your immune system and overall health:

Cut out offensive foods. Inflammation is a natural response to getting sick or injured. Your immune system sends inflammatory cells to the region they're needed to attack and repair the compromised area. But, if you're eating foods you're allergic to, your immune system may go on the attack every time you consume these foods. Besides causing added stress in the body, your immune system stays compromised for longer periods of time, which decreases the effectiveness of daily maintenance.

Add more nutrients. Micronutrients such as magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin D all have immunity boosting powers. Foods such as ginger, bee pollen and many fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which all aid in supporting a healthy immune system. Even adding lemon juice to your water can help alkalize the pH of your body and support healthy bacteria while making it difficult for acid-loving pathogens to thrive.

Improve your sleep. We all know how important sleep is to our mental health, but our body uses this time to repair and recover from daily wear and tear. A lack of sleep can lead to immune system suppression by increasing inflammation and decreasing the amount of disease-fighting cells in our bodies.

Ensure proper detox. If your body isn't eliminating everyday toxins from the food you eat or the air you breathe, you'll have a hard time fighting off a cold. Proper detox begins with a healthy digestive system and adequate hydration sets the stage for efficient elimination. If you eat nonorganic meats or if you had a recent dose of antibiotics, it's a good idea to supplement with a quality probiotic to restore gut flora. This will aid in efficient digestion and keep things moving along properly.

Take advantage of strength training. Exercise has numerous benefits, but one that is often overlooked is the ability of muscle contractions to help drain the lymphatic system. The lymph system is a channel for toxins to be excreted from the body and a pathway for immune cells to travel where they are needed. Consistent muscle contractions drive the healthy flow of the lymph system.

Laugh and enjoy life. Obviously laughter seems to reduce stress in our lives, but it may also boost immune function. Studies have shown that laughter boosts natural killer cells that attack anything from infectious cells to tumor cells. Laughter will boost your body's ability to destroy toxic cells and therefore lesson your chance for disease.

So take a few simple steps each day to give your immune system a fighting chance. This time of year is so much more enjoyable when you're healthy.

For more health and wellness tips, visit our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com or find us on Facebook.

Ÿ Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.

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