CLEVELAND – When it comes to boosting our immunity, nothing beats healthy habits.
And while we can’t improve our immune systems overnight, Cleveland Clinic’s Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, said we can start by looking at the foods we eat.
“If we look at specific foods, there have been studies on fiber,” she said. “Getting foods that have enough fiber have helped with immune function. Getting enough greens – greens in particular – seem to be like a magic elixir for helping that immune system stay in tip-top shape.”
Maintaining a healthy weight is another way to boost immune function.
Kirkpatrick advises us to take a look at not only what we’re eating, but also when we’re eating.
Need to drop a few pounds? One effective strategy is to eat all meals and snacks within an eight to ten hour window each day.
“When we are more in-line with our circadian clock – when we are eating during daylight hours, as humans should – that helps with overall fat loss, it helps with weight loss, it helps with immunity, it helps with so many concepts.”
Too much stress can have a negative impact on the immune system. And getting inadequate sleep hurts the body’s ability to fight off illness as well.
Kirkpatrick said many people think an alcoholic beverage can help them de-stress. However, she said having a few drinks will likely do more harm than good.
“Even though it’s a sedative, alcohol will wake you up in the middle of the night and it will make it harder for you to go back to sleep, so your sleep is really impacted,” said Kirkpatrick.
In addition to lost sleep, too much alcohol can have negative impact on weight, the liver and a person’s overall health.
Kirkpatrick recommends enjoying alcohol minimally and keeping it to one drink per day or less.