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It can happen in the blink of an eye. One day, everyone’s fine, and the next, your friends, coworkers, and roommates drop one by one into the miserable abyss of flu season.

If you fear the dreaded illness is coming for you next, don’t stockpile the tissues yet. Beyond getting a flu shot and washing your hands religiously, the best line of defense comes from simple, healthy habits.

Below are twelve natural ways to support your immune system. Because who has time for a sick day?

♦️ Eat enough good food:
A healthy diet is essential to a strong immune system. As you age, your nutritional needs and eating habits may change for a variety of reasons. But in addition to a weakened immune system, poor nutrition or malnutrition can also affect heart health, lead to type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer, and weaken bones and muscles. A well-balanced diet includes a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and a variety of protein foods.

▪️Protein – seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, peas
▪️Vitamin A – sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach
▪️Vitamin C – citrus foods, strawberries, certain cereals
▪️Vitamin E – almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter
▪️Zinc – lean meats, poultry, milk, whole grain products, beans

♦️ Build Your Social Network:
Isolation may lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, which can compromise immune health. So find creative ways to stay connected: Call, text, or use video technology, such as Facebook, Skype, or Whatsapp to stay in touch while keeping your loved one safe.

♦️ Limit Alcohol:
Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections. Healthy older adults should limit alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

♦️ Quit Smoking:
Smoking harms the immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight colds, the flu, and other viruses. It also increases your risk for many other health problems, including heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.

Encourage your aging loved one to quit as soon as possible. If you need extra support, enlist the help of your doctor.

♦️ Wash Your Hands:
Washing your hands thoroughly and often can help prevent the spread of disease-causing germs from one person to another. Be sure to lather hands with soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing with water. You should do handwashing:

▪️Before, during, and after preparing food
▪️Before eating
▪️After using the toilet
▪️Before and after caring for someone who is ill
▪️After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

♦️ Get Enough Sleep:
Insufficient sleep may hinder your immune system’s ability to respond to infection and inflammation. Additionally, sleep disorders are linked to many chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder among older adults. If lifestyle changes, such as staying physically active, keeping a regular sleep schedule, and limiting caffeine don’t help.

♦️ Have Sex:
Sex is not only pleasurable but did you know it’s also good for you? It’s true. The benefits of sex range from slashing stress levels to lowering your risk of cancer and heart attacks. Sex facilitates bonding and feelings of intimacy with your partner. This kind of connectedness does more than make you feel warm and fuzzy, it actually reduces anxiety and boosts your overall health.

♦️ Have a Laugh:
A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

♦️ Look into Herbs & Supplements:
A healthy liver ensures the body’s’ natural detoxification process. Herbs like AHCC, Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis, and Astragalus can help reduce the duration and severity of illness. On top of that, using vitamin and mineral supplements provide the necessary nutrients for a strong immune system.

♦️ Stay Positive:
Positive thinking can transform your mental life, boosting your daily happiness levels and expediting your path to success.

♦️ Exercise More Often:
Regular physical activity can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections and viruses. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity for three days a week. This can include walking, biking, yoga, swimming, or other low impact workouts.

♦️ Find a Furry Friend:
There’s a reason we call our pets “Man’s Best Friend.” Dogs and other pets aren’t just good buddies. They also give us a reason to exercise and boost our health in other ways. Pet owners have lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels and healthier Hearts. Dogs can help your child’s immune response and make him less likely to get allergies.