How to boost your immune system

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PHOENIX – If you’re looking to boost your immune system – and you should be – there are some simple things you can do.

Dr. Art Mollen says boosting your immune system is more than simply protecting yourself from contracting a sore throat, a cold or other contagious bugs.

“By enhancing the effectiveness of your immune system, you can lower your risk of developing diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease and even cancer,” Mollen explained.

Making good nutrition choices can go a long way in bolstering your immune system.

“Blueberries are one of the most significant foods that can actually enhance your immune system because they are loaded with what we call antioxidants,” Mollen said. He calls blueberries the “super heroes of nutritional medicine.”

Antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, which are molecules that are produced when the body breaks down food. Environmental factors like tobacco smoke and radiation can also spawn free radicals.

While blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, they aren’t the only source. Fruits and vegetables in general can be good sources of antioxidants. That’s why doctors often advise their patients to eat a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables.

Another food to consider adding to your diet is the Maitake mushroom (also known as Hen-of-the-Woods, Ram's Head and Sheep's Head), which has been touted by some as “one of the most powerful vegetables in terms of preventing a lot of diseases.”

Enhancing your immune system isn’t just about eating the right foods. Exercise is also extremely important, as is getting plenty of sleep, reducing stress and having a good social network.

One thing you might not have considered in your quest to boost your immune system is the positive effects of laughter.

“People will have a positive mental attitude if they’re laughing,” Mollen said.

There are several factors that can lead to a decreased immune system, including a lack of exercise, being overweight, eating foods that are high in sugar, stress and being socially isolated.