Lifestyle habits affect the immune system
The immune system can be affected a lot with lifestyle choices. Take care of your immune system with the following:
- Enough sleep: The body needs enough rest and sleep in order to function properly. When continuing for a long period of time, sleep debt decreases the immune system. As a result of sleep debt, the immune system can’t produce enough antibodies to prevent infections.
- Balance between physical load and recovery: Good general condition supports the immune system but in addition to regular exercise, the body also needs enough recovery. Exercising too much can cause long-term stress in the body which erodes the immune system.
- Healthy and diverse diet: The gut covers even 70 % of a person’s immune system. Vegetables and fruits, wholegrain products and fermented dairy products nurture the gut, whereas red meat, sugar and saturated fats increase the amount of harmful gut bacteria.
- Avoiding stress: too much stress increases the risk of falling ill since it affects the function of the cells of the immune system.
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol: Smoking weakens the lungs which makes it more difficult for the body to fight bacteria. Alcohol slows down metabolism and erodes the body’s ability to prevent infections.
The immune system can be supported with dietary supplements and natural products
Zinc, vitamin C and echinacea have been shown to be beneficial in preventing and/or treating the flu.
- Zinc: Research has shown that zinc helps to prevent the flu and to shorten the duration of the flu by three days on average. The use of zinc needs to be started immediately when flu symptoms arise though. You also need to take enough zinc, 80–100 mg per day. Lozenge and zinc spray are the best choices, as the zinc will thus have enough contact with the mucous membranes of the mouth. Zinc acetate is the best form of zinc for treating flu.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C taken during flu may help to treat the flu symptoms, though research evidence on this is weaker than with zinc. 6 mg of vitamin C per day is sufficient. Vitamin C can be taken in the form of tablets or effervescent tablets, as they affect via the stomach and circulation.
- Echinacea: helps to prevent the flu and to shorten its duration. The effect of echinacea is based on activating the body’s own defence mechanism. Echinacea is available as effervescent tablets, chewing tablets and drops. Some of the best known echinacea products are made by A.Vogel.