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Give Your Immunity a Boost

Give Your Immunity a Boost

Mom was right: An apple a day really can help keep the doctor away. A nourishing diet packed with vitamins and minerals can help give your immune system the support it needs to fight off illness. According to the Cleveland Clinic, three vitamins in particular pack an immune-boosting punch.

Vitamin C
This powerful antioxidant is critical for a healthy immune system, and too little vitamin C can make you more likely to get sick. Since the body doesn't produce or store vitamin C, daily intake from foods and supplements is essential. Foods rich in vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, spinach, and broccoli.

Vitamin E
Also an antioxidant, vitamin E helps the body fight off infections. And while vitamins C and E are beneficial individually, they're even more powerful when taken together -- they have complementary roles in the body and support each other's antioxidant function. Vitamins C and E both control immune cell function, and vitamin C stimulates the release of interferons (chemicals with antiviral properties) while vitamin E supports immune health as you age. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, and spinach.

Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 supports biochemical reactions involved in the immune system, and research suggests that a deficiency may alter the immune response. Chicken, salmon, tuna, green vegetables, and chickpeas are rich in vitamin B6.

In addition to a wholesome diet, healthy habits go a long way toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Do your best to control stress. According to the American Psychological Association, a good group of friends can help reduce stress and strengthen health. Research finds that immune response is weakened by the combination of loneliness and small social networks, and social ties may indirectly strengthen immunity because friends can encourage good behaviors such as eating, sleeping, and exercising well -- which all help to reduce stress.

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