Dr Gartner’s top tips to boost your immune system

Simple ways to boost your immune system

Can we actively strengthen our immune system? The short answer is yes, we can – diet, exercise, relaxation and mental hygiene all impact general health, especially the immune system. Precautionary measures such as supplementing our diet with vitamins C, D and zinc are also helpful. Boost your immune system with these eight simple tips from Dr Gartner, Medical Director at the Park Igls health resort.

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1. A BALANCED DIET WITH PLENTY OF FRUIT AND VEG

To ensure your body gets all the vitamins, minerals and trace elements required for a healthy immune system, you need vitamins A, B and C, as well as zinc, selenium and iron. Foods that are rich in micronutrients include garlic, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, berries, nuts and grapes. Never rely entirely on just a few of these foods: none of them contain all of the essential substances, so you need a bit of everything. Even superfoods such as goji berries, chia seeds and blueberries do not offer everything the body requires – variety is crucial!

2. SUNLIGHT = VITAMIN D

A healthy immune system needs plenty of vitamin D. Only 20% of our vitamin D comes from food, salmon being the most popularly known source. On the other hand, 80% is produced by our skin from direct sunlight. Although most dermatologists prefer us to sit in the shade, we also need to spend a few minutes in direct sunlight each day – such an easy and pleasant way to boost the immune system!

3. STAY HYDRATED

When you are dehydrated, the mucous membranes dry out. This automatically stacks the cards against us as we fight bacteria and viruses. Even viruses like coronavirus can easily be washed out of the throat: drinking regularly can reduce the chances of a lung infection. Drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water, will wash out and remove acidic toxins from the connective tissue. This leads to deacidification and a restored acid-base balance: a simple way to detox that also leads to an efficient immune system!

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4. EXERCISE – BUT DON’T OVERDO IT!

Exercise stimulates the immune system, making it work faster and more effectively as more active immunity cells are formed. But overdoing it has potential risks. Intense physical exertion can lead to a downturn in immunosurveillance, and increases the risk of infection. So, running, swimming and cycling are great … in moderation.

Gesundheitszentrum Park Igls in Tirol
Gesundheitszentrum Park Igls in Tirol

5. NO SMOKING

As well as increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease, smoking inhibits our immune system and dries the mucosa, preventing them from doing their job of cleaning the airways. This is not the way to boost your immune system!

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6. LESS STRESS,
MORE SLEEP

Undue stress causes the body to create messenger substances that can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and heart attack. Stress also weakens the immune system, as does lack of sleep: insomnia suppresses immune system function. We therefore recommend regular breaks as well as avoiding anything that could rob you of sleep. This includes setting the heating too high, using electronic devices at night, eating late and drinking too much alcohol.

7. CLEANLINESS

This includes frequent hand washing to get rid of any pathogens and prevent you from catching diseases by touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

8. PROTECT THE GUT

Avoid doing anything that could be harmful to your gut and thus the immune system: don’t eat late at night, avoid raw foods in the evening, make sure you never eat too fast and definitely cut out snacking. Drink plenty between meals, but not with your meals. Skipping dinner once or twice a week is also helpful. And finally, the advice of every Mayr physician: chew, chew, chew – and enjoy twice-yearly Mayr therapies. Your immune system will thank you for it!

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Dr Peter Gartner – GP, Mayr physician, Medical Director at the Park Igls health resort