Ways to Boost Your Immune System With Lifestyle Habits




Without doubt, lifestyle pattern is something that directly affects your immune system.

An unorganized and haphazard lifestyle has the most devastating influence on immunity resistance. Without a properly functioning immune system the body cannot fight off illness and infection, which essentially could lead to a benign cold or something more devastating such as cancer.

The key to avoiding sickness is a strong defense system. A strong defense system is all in your hands, and is influenced by beneficial day to day feelings and habits. Things that generally make us feel good are also good for our immune system. Things such as the warmth of the sun, a great song, helping someone in need, laughing heartily, feeling happy, spending time with friends, a relaxing massage or even the simple act of skipping playfully.

Effortlessly, to boost your immune system, partake in more activities that are pleasurable. After all, isn't that what this short life is ultimately about anyway? 

 
GET OUT & MINGLE -
don't become a loner

Your immune system likes it when you spend time with friends and family. "We have phenomenal data showing the value of nurturing, social support and camaraderie," says neurologist Barry Bittman, M.D., CEO of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pa. In one such study, researchers exposed people to a cold virus and then monitored how many contacts those people had with friends, family, co-workers and members of church and community groups. The more social contacts the people had - and the more diverse the contacts - the less likely they were to catch the cold. Touch is important too: Giving or getting hugs or other forms of touch can boost the activity of the natural killer cells that seek out and destroy cancer cells or cells that have been invaded by viruses.

LISTEN TO MUSIC YOU LOVE - or make music

Listening to music can boost your immunity, but it has to be music you love. "Something that calms one person might rile another," Berk says. "The trick is finding music that soothes your soul." Scientists at McGill University in Montreal found that listening to music that sent "shivers down the spine" or that gave people chills stimulated the same "feel-good" parts of the brain that are activated by food and sex. "Even better than listening to music is making it," says Bittman, who found that people who took part in an amateur group-drumming session had greatly enhanced natural killer-cell activity afterward.

LAUGH OUT LOUD

While painful emotions like anger and grief can impair health, laughter does the opposite. A real belly laugh increases infection-fighting antibodies and boosts natural killer-cell activity, says Berk, who has shown students funny videos and measured their immune systems' response. "Even anticipating a humorous encounter can enhance immunity," he says. "It happens at the molecular level." Laughter also increases circulation, stimulates digestion, lowers blood pressure and reduces muscle tension.

 
TURN DOWN THE VOLUME

Noise hurts more than your ears. Any unwanted and intrusive sound can trigger muscle tension, speed heartbeat, constrict blood vessels and cause digestive upsets - the same response your body has to being startled or stressed. Chronic exposure to noise can lead to even longer-lasting changes in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and immune function. Cornell University research found that women who work in moderately noisy offices produce more of the stress hormone adrenaline and may be more vulnerable to heart disease than women who work in quiet offices. Even worse are unwelcome sounds you perceive as uncontrollable, such as car alarms, barking dogs and P.A. systems. Try to take control over the noise in your environment, even if it means wearing earplugs or asking the restaurant owner or gym manager to turn down the music.

 
LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE - & live 12 years longer

The immune system takes many of its cues from our thoughts and feelings, so try to keep your outlook upbeat. Years ago, Mayo Clinic researchers found that people who were optimists in their youth tended to live 12 years longer than pessimists. A recent study by Anna L. Marsland, Ph.D., R.N., a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, found that people who were negative, moody, nervous and easily stressed had a weaker immune response to a hepatitis vaccination than their more positive peers. Negativity is a personality trait that's difficult to change, but if wearing rose-colored glasses can improve your immunity, why not try on a pair?

USE YOUR BRAIN

Certain kinds of thinking may boost immunity. University of California, Berkeley, neuroscientist Marian Diamond, Ph.D., found that playing bridge stimulated women's immune systems. Her research is the first to show a connection between the immune system and the part of the brain that handles planning, memory, initiative, judgment and abstract thinking. Says Diamond: "Any mental activity that uses one or a combination of these intellectual functions might benefit immune activity."

MOVE YOUR BODY

Regular, moderate exercise can boost several aspects of your body's self-defense system. "Physical activity not only strengthens your cardiovascular system," Berk says, "it improves your mood and reduces stress as well." Many studies show that long-term training also elevates natural killer-cell activity. But don't push too hard: If you're already under emotional stress, you might want to avoid exercising beyond your usual level. And if your training is unusually prolonged and intense, your risk for illness and infection goes up.

LEARN HOW TO RELAX

Stress jacks up your body's production of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that lower immune response. No wonder you're more likely to come down with a cold or the flu when faced with stressful situations like final exams or relationship problems. Stress-induced anxiety also can inhibit natural killer-cell activity. If practiced regularly, any of the well-known relaxation techniques -- from aerobic exercise and progressive muscle relaxation to meditation, prayer and chanting -- help block release of stress hormones and increase immune function.


SLEEP IN TOTAL DARKNESS

Only when it's really dark does your body produce melatonin, a hormone that helps prevent certain diseases. Not sleeping enough, or being exposed to light during the night, decreases melatonin production and boosts estrogen levels, increasing breast-cancer risk. In fact, recent studies have found a height-ended risk of breast cancer -- up to 60 percent -- among women who work the graveyard shift, and possibly an even greater increase among women with the brightest bedrooms. Not surprisingly, blind women have an approximate 20-50 percent reduction in breast-cancer risk. Even a dim source like a bedside clock or a night light may switch melatonin production off, so keep your bedroom as dark as possible.

DRY BRUSH YOUR SKIN

Brushing your skin every day not only boosts the circulation and leaves skin glowing, it's also said to aid lymphatic drainage - the body's method of flushing out toxins and dispersing excess fluid. Lymph is considered part of our immune system and is made of white blood cells called lymphocytes and the interstitial fluid that bathe our cells, bringing our cells nutrients and removing their waste. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph. Our bodies contain far more lymph than blood, so you can see how important this might be. Paavo Airola maintains that dry brushing is an essential part of any intestinal cleansing and healing program.
Dry brushing literally moves the lymph containing large proteins and particulate matter that cannot be transported in any other way back into circulatory system.





















EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS

People who keep their opinions and emotions bottled have killer T cells that are less active than those found in more expressive peers.
Having a constructive argument with your spouse can actually increase immunity, with surges in blood pressure, heart rate, and immune-related white blood cells similar to that seen with moderate exercise. But it has to stay constructive; couples who frequently use sarcasm, insults, and put-downs have fewer virus-fighting natural killer cells, have higher levels of stress hormones, and take up to 40% longer to recover from injuries than those who manage to stay positive during their quarrels.

GO OUT IN THE SUN -
for 15 minutes

Not only does the warmth of the sun on your face and skin feel amazing, but a small amount of UV radiation from the sun can benefit health greatly, generating vitamin D production in the skin and increasing T cells. In the summer, an exposure of 15 minutes to the hands and face is adequate. Too much sun can depress the immune system so don't burn. In the winter, get out on the sunny days and make sure to use a vitamin D lamp or supplementation. Getting out in the sun has the added plus of getting some fresh air which is essential for your wellbeing.

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