Winter is the peak sniffle season and bad for immunity. There is no better way to fight the sniffles than making sure your immune system is at peak strength. The new year is an excellent time to make a resolution to build better immunity. Lifestyle modifications, such as sufficient sleep, handwashing, and better nutrition, can significantly enhance your immune defense.
Many people are sleep deprived. A 2006 Institute of Medicine Report estimated that 50-70 million U.S. adults suffer from chronic insufficient sleep and/or sleep disorders, like sleep apnea (1). Getting sufficient sleep can significantly reduce the risk of becoming ill. One study of 153 healthy adults reported that the risk of becoming ill was 2.9 times greater in people who get less than seven hours of sleep nightly, compared to those who got more than eight hours of sleep (2). Make sleep a priority in your busy lifestyle.
Hygiene Increases Immunity
Washing your hands can rid you of germs that may linger on your hands, waiting for their chance to get into your body via your mouth, nose, eyes and ears. Increased handwashing rates have been associated with significantly lower rates of school absenteeism due to illness (3).
Drinking enough fluids and getting good nutrition through diet and supplements can also help with immunity. There are a few nutrients that are critical for immune health.
Vitamin D is found in only a few foods like fish oil, fatty fish, eggs, and vitamin D fortified milk. Vitamin D is also produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It plays a critical role in immunity (4). Lower blood levels of vitamin D have been associated with significantly higher rates of respiratory issues in healthy adults (5). Most U.S. children and adults are deficient in vitamin D (6).
Zinc is another nutrient critical for immunity. A 2012 meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials that treated 2,121 subjects with either oral zinc supplements or placebo reported that the average length of symptoms was 1.65 days less in the subjects treated with oral zinc (7). Use caution, as too much zinc can irritate your stomach.
Alpha Glucans from Fungi
In recent years, there has been considerable interest in using glucan supplements to boost immunity. Alpha glucans are composed of sugars and are produced by a wide range of fungi. Many published studies have reported that alpha glucan supplements can enhance cell immunity. A particularly well-studied alpha-glucan is active hexose correlated compound, or AHCC. AHCC is a hybridized mushroom extract derived from several Japanese medicinal mushrooms including the shiitake mushroom. Various human studies have suggested that supplemental AHCC can effectively improve human immune function.
Nutritional supplements can play an important part in keeping your immunity high and maintaining an active lifestyle. Two you should consider are ImmPower for maximum immune protection, or ImmPowerD3 for daily immune maintenance. ImmPower contains 500 milligrams of AHCC, while ImmPower D3 contains 250 milligrams of AHCC, along with 750 international units of Vitamin D. Both ImmPower and ImmPowerD3 can help maintain a strong immune system.
1. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press;2006.
2. Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Alper CM, Janicki-Deverts D, Turner RB. Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold. Archives of Internal Medicine January 12, 2009;169:62-7.
3. Nandrup-Bus I. Mandatory handwashing in elementary schools reduces absenteeism due to infectious illnesses among pupils. A pilot study. American Journal of Infection Control December 2009;37:820-6.
4. Gunville CF, Mourani PM, Ginde AA. The role of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of infection. Inflammation, Allergy, and Drug Targets July 2013;12:239-45.
5. Sabetta JR, DePetrillo P, Ciprani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, Landy ML. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in health adults. PLOS ONE June 2010;5:e11088.
6. Ginde AA, Liu MC, Camargo CA. Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D insufficiency in the US population, 1988-2004. Archives of Internal Medicine March 2009;169:626-32.
7. Science M, Johnstone J, Roth DE, Guyatt G, Loeb M. Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Canadian Medical Association July 12, 2012;184:E551-E561.