Unbelievably, some researchers claim that eating dirt is good for you. Their hypothesis is that the millions of bacteria and other microbes found in dirt help our bodies to develop a healthy immune system. Mud may be beneficial for beauty treatments, but there are easier, scientifically-proven ways to replenish your body’s defenses and create a safety net for your health.
- Serve a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A large body of evidence indicates that the ‘Neo-Mediterranean diet’, which contains high levels of flavonoids, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients, lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer, and supports good immune function. This diet is high in fruits and vegetables; whole grains, beans and other legumes; olive oil, nuts and seeds; garlic; oily fish and a moderate intake of red wine.
- Make adequate sleep a priority. Lack of sleep is perceived by the body as a form of stress – and stress reduces the immune response.
- Supplement with baseline nutritional support. Anyone over age 45 should take a comprehensive daily nutritional supplement that includes an optimum level of vitamins and minerals, plus flavonoids and carotenoids (derived from fruits and vegetables), Omega 3 fatty acids, isoflavones and other micro- and phyto-nutrients including Vitamin D and Selenium.
- Protect your digestive tract with prebiotics and probiotics. There is evidence that some pre- and probiotic species have a positive effect on immune health.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is an effective immune booster and important for health generally. Being unfit is as dangerous as smoking 20 cigarettes a day!
- Take precautions to avoid germs. Colds are transmitted through the air – via coughing and sneezing, and through surface contact, such as door handles. It makes sense to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Food preparation is another area where sensible precautions are important. Rinse all meat and fish under running water before cooking, wash your hands each time a new raw food is touched, and never cut cooked and raw meats on the same board.
- Add in other steps toward living a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the above, stop smoking if you haven’t already done so, maintain a healthy weight, control your blood pressure and drink alcohol in moderation – two glasses of red wine per day seems about right, although a third probably won’t do any harm! Children and those over 50 should get a flu shot. Regular medical checkups are also important.