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Ways to boost your immune system

This is no guarantee that you won't get sick, but there are some helpful tips.

NEW ORLEANS — You've heard a lot in the news about how the flu and coronavirus are more dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.

So we wanted to find out, are there ways to help make your immune system stronger?

Now, this is no guarantee that you won't get sick, but there are some helpful tips.

For daily living ways to support your immune system, we turned to Dr. Benjamin Springgate,  the LSU Health Chief of Community and Population Medicine.

First your diet needs regular fruits and vegetable with vitamin C, like spinach, broccoli and bell peppers. Playing catch up with lots of vitamin C supplements is not going to make a big difference. Your body just doesn't store it. 

Other foods that are supportive: Mushrooms, turmeric, green tea and live culture yogurts for the probiotics. That promotes the growth of good bacteria. It's important because it's your gut and intestines that secrete antibodies to fight germs that make you sick.

Next, exercise helps circulate immune system components throughout your body. In one study, seniors who did Tai Chi three days a week, had an immune response to a vaccine that nearly doubled those who did not take Tai Chi classes.

So what hurts your immune system? 

Too much alcohol, smoking and stress. Also, not getting seven-to-eight hours of sleep makes you more susceptible to getting sick and not being as strong when fighting the infection.

And don't forget hand washing. In a study at a large Navy training center, frequent hand washers had 45% fewer doctor visits for respiratory illness.

Some small studies on elderberry supplements show that people's symptoms lasted fewer days and were less severe, but larger studies are needed.

Mackie Shilstone's picks to build a strong immune system:

  • Probiotic - 70% of your immune system resides in the lining of the gut.
  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine - NAC -- to boost the powerful antioxidant glutathione in the liver
  • Olive Leaf Extract - a natural antimicrobial for acute infections x
  • Garlic Extract - one of nature's natural antibiotic
  • Vitamin C - to boost the activity of the body's natural killer cells, a first line defense.

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