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Boost Your Immune System

David L. Woodland, an immunologist at the Trudeau Institute, a nonprofit research center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. says the biggest drain on our immune systems in the modern age is stress. Taking the pressure off the immune system helps it build up, he says. Adequate sleep recharges your immune system, and most people don’t get enough nowadays.

While people tend to get fewer colds as they get older, since their immune systems have developed defenses against many strains of cold virus, “the immune system decline outweighs the benefits you’ve been accruing,” says Woodland.

Good nutrition is a must for kids year-round, says Frogel, and that kids, like adults, need plenty of sleep and regular exercise.

Good nutrition does not mean more food—quite the contrary. Losing weight can help build immunity, according to a study by Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. When a group of adults with high cholesterol lost weight on a low-fat diet, most also showed evidence of improved immune function.

Carrie Angus M.D. recommends whole, fresh foods. “Fresh foods not only carry a diverse mixture of vitamins and trace minerals absent from most processed foods, they also have vitality.”