Every year, as we get older, our ability to fight off germs and infections decreases. So let us give you a few things that make our immune response WORSE – and then we’ll give you a few that make it BETTER. Let’s start with the things that reduce our immunity:

  • Stress. That’s the biggest one. Chronic stress comes from things like a bad job, a bad relationship, an illness or taking care of a sick family member. Things that keep you stressed out day after day. But that type of stress slows down our killer immune cells – the ones that attack germs. Chronic stress also depletes our stores of vitamin C, which we need to ward off colds and flu.

  • Crash diets also sabotage our immune response. When you barely take in any calories, you aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals to support the immune system. And popping vitamins won’t help. Because getting vitamins through the foods we eat is the best way to absorb them.

  • A lack of sleep. We need to get into the deeper stages of sleep to fortify our immune system.

So, now that you know what lowers your immunity, here’s what bolsters it:

  • Stinky foods – garlic, onions, and scallions. They’re rich in a mineral called selenium that reduces inflammation. And when your blood vessels aren’t inflamed, your immune system’s more effective at fighting infection. Plus, their sulfur compounds slow the growth of bacteria and kill germs.

  • Get some sun. Vitamin D helps the body maintain its natural barrier against germs, bacteria and viruses. And the best source comes from your skin – when it converts sunlight into vitamin D. All you need to increase your infection-fighting ability is a 15-minute walk outside a few times a week.

  • Wheat germ can also bolster your immune system. It’s a great source of both zinc and vitamin E – both of which are important nutrients for a strong immune system. Plus, it’s a good source of protein – and the antibodies that fight infections are made of protein. So, add a couple tablespoons of wheat germ to your meals every day – like a spoonful on your yogurt, or on top of your breakfast cereal.