Wish you could make yourself germ-proof from sneezing and coughing co-workers, family members or strangers you pass on the street? The secret is a strong immune system. So, here are a few scientifically proven ways to boost it:

  • Load up on protein! Experts say if you’re low on protein, your body has a harder time making white blood cells – the backbone of your immune system. So, eat protein-packed foods every day, like yogurt, beans and chicken.
  • Be a fish lover – and eat salmon or tuna twice a week. Studies show it reduces your risk of respiratory infection. That’s because fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that boost production of virus-fighting T-cell levels.
  • Hit the gym! A study found that people who are physically active get over a cold twice as fast as couch potatoes. Experts explain it’s because exercise sparks a temporary rise in immune cells.
  • Do the Harlem Shake – or any other dance move. People who shake what their mama gave them for 50 minutes have higher levels of antibodies. And even people who simply LISTEN to dance music have less of the stress hormone cortisol.

But if your immune system has already been breached – and you’re not feeling so hot, don’t worry. You’re not down for the count yet – there are still things you can do to shore up your immune system and cut down the length of your illness. Here are a few strategies to stop your sickness in its tracks:

  • Pop zinc. A study found that taking zinc can shave 2 days off a cold. Experts suggest taking zinc every few hours while you have symptoms – or suck on a zinc lozenge.
  • Make yourself a bowl of chicken soup. It’s not an old wives tale! A University of Nebraska study found chicken soup actually does relieve symptoms of a cold. That’s because the chicken contains an amino acid that loosens mucus and improves respiratory function. The vegetables boost your immunity. And the broth fights the dehydrating effect of a cold.
  • Load up on Vitamin C. A review of 29 studies found that taking C as soon as you feel symptoms strike can reduce your cold by one day. You’ll need a-thousand milligrams a day.
  • Get some sleep! Experts say that when you sleep, your immune system releases special proteins that combat infection.