Cold and flu season are here. Are you getting enough vitamins?

Cold and flu season are here. Are you getting enough vitamins?

Find out if your immune system has what it takes to keep you disease-free throughout the flu season and all year long.......

You may or may not feel good at this moment, and why? Because our bodies are constantly being invaded by viruses, bacteria, toxic chemicals, and who-knows-what-else. These invaders want to give you a cold, the flu, a heart attack, even cancer. And the only thing standing in their way is your immune system.

Your body is made up of many organs and microscopic cells that help to fight off these invaders. The way to prevent yourself from getting sick is to make your immune system stronger. There are several things you can do to help your body fight off colds. To help prevent yourself from being susceptible to colds try to follow the following guidelines: eat a well-balanced diet, drink enough fluids (at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily,) get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, avoid smokers or quit smoking, and try to keep stress low.

Diet: When a person is malnourished, their immune system is weakened. When you restore the person to normal nutrition, the immune system improves. And, when you continue to improve nutrition beyond mere adequacy, the immune system continues to improve, even in healthy people. Eating a healthy and well balanced diet is your best defense. Make permanent changes in your daily eating habits that will help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid disease.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Five a day is OK, but eight or nine is best. Green, leafy vegetables and citrus fruits in particular will give you vitamins A and C, important immune system nutrients. Some vitamin C choices are tomatoes, strawberries, and broccoli. Get your beta-carotene in carrots, pumpkin, and winter squash.

Fats tend to suppress the immune system, especially poly-unsaturated fats. Cut your total fat intake to no more than 25% of daily calories.

Limit or avoid sugar. Sugar inhibits phagocytosis--the process by which viruses and bacteria are engulfed and chewed up by white blood cells.

Take a multi-vitamin. Multivitamins provide the immune-enhancing minerals that your body needs if you are unable to get them from your food sources. These include zinc, vitamin B6, and selenium. Extra vitamin E is also will help to increase your immune system.

Drink plenty of liquids to help your body stay well hydrated. When illnesses happen there is the possibility of dehydration. For your health, try to drink eight, 8 ounce glasses of water per day. The water helps to flush your body of unwanted impurities--to cleanse the body. Also, try to cut down on caffinated beverages and alcohol. Drink more milk, fruit juice and/or water.

To avoid environmental toxins that overload your immune system, stick with organic foods and stop smoking--and don''t hang out with anyone who does smoke.

Exercise and sleep are both good for your immune system in the right amounts. Moderate exercise is an immune booster. Exercise helps to improve your immune system, improves your sleep, and reduces stress. Poor sleep can actually reduce the activity of the killer cells that fight germs and cancer; stress hormones bind to your immune cells, decreasing their ability to fight off illness.

Exercise is a great way to feel good about yourself and your life. Ideally, you should get half an hour of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. Don''t overdo it. Intense exercise suppresses the immune system. What defines overexertion depends on your fitness level. Consult with your doctor to determine yours before starting. A rule of thumb: Start slowly. You should feel taxed when you''re finished, but not ready to call an ambulance. And do something fun. Inline skating, sledding, and swing dancing are all exercise too.

Hit the sack. And stay there for a full 8 hours. Sleep allows your body to concentrate on repair and cleanup. Is worry keeping you awake? Before your head hits the pillow, write your worries down or talk them into a tape recorder. Studies show that people who write about their troubles have stronger immune systems and fewer illnesses.

Make milk your bedtime drink. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Too much alcohol can depress your immune system--but even a little within 3 hours of bedtime can disturb your most restful period of sleep, REM, when most dreaming occurs. And caffeine is a stimulant which can also impair your sleep patterns.

Following the above helpful tips can improve your immune system to help your body fight infections and prevent you from becoming sick. Besides this benefit you will also improve your health by eating a well balanced diet, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. Making new daily habits will improve your body and your life.

Reference: Article in Prevention Magazine, November 1999 Issue, by R. Chillot with L. Davis