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With the cold and flu season ahead, you might want to consider ways to boost your body’s immune system to protect it against illness and infection. Even though your immune system usually does its job automatically before you even know there’s a problem, you can give it a boost with habits that promote wellness and support immunity. Here are five suggestions that can help: 

Eat healthy fruits and vegetables

Flavonoids found in some fruits and veggies are a vital part of maintaining health. Flavonoids are found in colorful fruits and vegetables like cranberries and elderberries. When it comes to power foods, elderberries’ exceptional flavanol levels make them an immune system powerhouse. Especially important during cold and flu season, elderberries can also be enjoyed in a cup of warm tea for instant comfort. Check out local markets and vendors for elderberry syrup and other products.

Reduce stress with outdoor activity

Keeping physically fit provides numerous health benefits. For example, reducing stress can result from something as easy as taking a walk outside. The sun’s ultraviolet rays also help your body produce vitamin D, which is important for your bones, blood cells and immune system, as well as helping to absorb and use certain nutrients. Yoga and massage can also be used to help stimulate the immune system and promote well-being.

Keep a regular sleep schedule

Sleep gives you an opportunity to recharge. This is when cellular regeneration and other healing is most efficient. Keeping a regular routine helps signal to your system that it’s time to rest so you can fall asleep easier and reap the whole-body benefits of a healthy sleep cycle. Some people take melatonin to promote better sleep. (Always consult with your doctor before adding a sleep aid.)

Wash hands frequently

Because germs are rampant and easily carried from school to home, you can give your immune system a hand, literally, by frequently scrubbing away germs before they have the chance to attack. Last year as people washed hands more frequently than ever due to COVID-19 concerns, the rate of flu also fell — proof that something as easy as washing your hands several times a day can provide big benefits.

Rely on natural remedies

Modern, stressful lifestyles and exposure to environmental pollutants can put immune systems under pressure. However, some of your existing soothing rituals can actually support better health, too. One example is relaxing with a hot cup of tea made with blends of natural ingredients, such as mushrooms. While mushrooms may not be an obvious ingredient, they have been incorporated into healing practices for thousands of years for their immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich properties. There are several powerful medicinal mushrooms but one stand-out is the reishi mushroom, known as the “mushroom of immortality” and “divine plant of longevity.” This anti-inflammatory powerhouse is known to promote healthy cell growth and healthy blood pressure, along with improving immune function.

For more ideas about boosting your immunity naturally, visit buddhateas.com. Family Features contributed to this story.