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Boosting your immune system
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Forsyth County News
With all of the talk about H1N1 and the regular flu, many of us are walking around with hand sanitizer in our pockets and Lysol in our cars.

The time to think about preventing this winter’s colds and other illnesses is now. Don't wait until you start sniffling to think about boosting your immune system.

There are many simple things you can do to boost your immune system. Here are some things that could drastically give your immune system a boost and possibly help ward off all of those pesky cold weather illnesses:

• Drink more water. Water is essential to your body and it also helps flush out toxins.

• Up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and decrease your intake of junk food and foods that are processed.

• Eat healthy. Strive to eat five fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and leafy vegetables provide vitamins A and C. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, cooking oil, wheat germ and fortified cereal. Foods high in antioxidants include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bell peppers, kale, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberries and other fruits.

• Don't forget your minerals and proteins. They're essential to healthy immune functioning. Eat plenty of fortified whole-wheat breads and cereals, legumes, low-fat red meat, nuts, eggs, poultry and seafood for protein, zinc and iron. You'll find essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in fatty fish and vegetable oils.

• Get the entire family on board. Making dietary and other healthy changes in your life is next to impossible without a good support system. They may not come on board willingly at first, but remember, it is for their own good.

• Cut down on caffeine and alcohol. Instead, drink water, fresh fruit juices and herbal teas.

• Get plenty of regular exercise. Buy a pedometer and strive to get 10,000 steps at least five days a week.

• Get enough sleep. Most adults do not get enough sleep and this eventually will take its toll on your system.

• Take a multi-vitamin daily. Many health experts also suggest other vitamins to help boost your immune system such as selenium, vitamins A, C, D and E, zinc and magnesium. As always, consult your doctor first, especially if you take regular medication.

• Do not neglect your hobbies. Believe it or not, making time for leisure time can also help your overall health.

• Wash your hands frequently, especially after being out in public places. Keep anti-bacterial wipes or gel in your car. Send extra bottles and wipes to your child’s school classroom.

• Spend a few minutes every day in quiet prayer, meditation and/or reflection. Never taking a break from your busy day causes stress.

• Have a positive attitude and outlook on life. Stress and worry can make you sick. If you have gotten into a rut, now is the time to figure out what makes you happy and do it. Walk with a friend, join a support group or do community service. Nothing brings you joy quite like the joy you receive when you are helping others.

Adlen is the author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.”