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Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

The immune system has a vital role: It protects your body from harmful germs, substances, and cell changes that could make you ill. It is made up of various cells, organs, and proteins.

If your immune system is running smoothly, you won’t notice that it’s there. But if it stops working properly – because it’s weak or can't fight particularly aggressive germs – illness may follow. Some germs will only make you ill if it’s the first time you encounter them. An example of this would be a childhood illness, such as chickenpox. When fully optimized our immune systems destroy viruses, prevent infections, and balance bacteria levels without us ever giving this process a second thought.

Eat Right, Move Right

Good nutrition is essential to supporting a strong and healthy immune system. No one food or supplement can prevent illness, but you may help support your immune system by including specific nutrients in your overall eating plan on a regular basis. Dietary needs differ for every person, but in general, you should include the nutrients below in your diet.

• Vitamin A - Helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. Vitamin A can be found in such foods as red bell peppers, apricots, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, and eggs, to name a few.
• Vitamin C - Supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Vitamin C can be obtained by consuming citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, or red bell pepper, papaya, strawberries, and tomato juice.
• Vitamin E - Works as an antioxidant and supports immune function. Vitamin E can be found in fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts and peanut butter.
• Protein - Plays a role in the body's immune system, especially for healing and recovery. Eat a variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
• Zinc - Helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. Zinc can be found in lean meat, poultry, seeds, nuts, seafood, milk, and whole grain products.

A benefit of eating right is that you’ll be able to move right. Moving right and staying active is a great way to assist and support your immune system. Exercise increases blood and lymph flow as your muscles contract. Additionally, exercising increases the circulation of immune cells, making them roam the body at a higher rate and at higher numbers. Specifically, exercise helps to recruit highly specialized immune cells—such as natural killer cells and T cells—find pathogens, such as viruses, and wipe them out. Regular exercise reduces inflammation, allowing the immune system to perform better. While acute inflammation in response to an injury is part of a healthy immune system, chronic inflammation can slow down the immune system. A 2019 scientific study by the National Library of Medicine found that moderate-intensity exercise is linked to lower rates of upper respiratory tract infections, which includes viruses like the flu and common cold. As long as you remain active and exercise, you’re supporting your health and immune system.

Protect Yourself

Your immune system works hard to defend you from germs that cause illness and infection. As we enter the colder fall and winter months, your body will be working hard to fight off colds, the flu and COVID-19. Providing protection for our members from preventable illness has always been one of the top priorities of the FHCP Team, and we have benefits to assist our members in keeping their immune system strong. At FHCP, we offer a free 6-week “Eat Right, Move Right” program focused on helping you keep a healthy weight by learning about nutritional intake, proper exercising, and routine changes to lose weight.

Another way to help protect your immune system from illness is to get a seasonal vaccine, such as a flu or COVID-19 shot. This safe and easy method of protection can be done by contacting your FHCP Provider and scheduling an appointment today!

About Florida Health Care Plans

Florida Health Care Plans serves our community with over 9,000 local health care providers in Flagler, Volusia, Seminole, Brevard, and St. Johns counties. Our Care Centers are designed with convenience and comfort in mind, whether you are visiting your family doctor, getting an X-ray, or utilizing our cost-effective, members-only pharmacies.

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