Your Complete Guide to Staying Well This Season

Hospitals are restricting visitors to reign in the flu in Fayetteville. Schools are closing because of the flu in Charleston and other areas. Flu-related doctor visits are already higher this year than in past years. Not even the CDC knows how much worse the flu season will get since peaks are not usually seen until January or February. From immune booster supplements like healthy nutrition and exercise to best practices like staying away from the most germ-filled places, here is a list of the most effective ways to prevent the flu.

Prevent the Flu and Other Illnesses

The following tips are the best practices for preventing the flu.

Wash your hands correctly. A squirt of soap and a quick rinse aren’t enough to prevent the flu. First, use water that is as hot as you can tolerate. Use plenty of soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. Finally, don’t forget the forgotten spots: under fingernails and your wrists. Always wash your hands when you get home before you touch much else in the house.

Use gloves and hand sanitizer. Washable gloves are the easiest way to keep your hands germ-free in public spaces. When gloves aren’t an option, use hand sanitizer regularly.

Protect yourself from the most germ-filled places. Gyms are among the dirtiest public places, as are public computers and school desks. Other places to avoid or be on the ready with sanitizer are ATMs, public soap dispensers and all door handles.

Clean key personal items. Germs make themselves at home on some of your personal gear. Sheets, cell phones and backpacks are among the items that should be cleaned regularly.

Prevent the Spread of Flu to Other Family Members

Despite your best efforts, sometimes the flu or other virus will infect someone in the house. When a member of the home gets sick, extra diligence can keep the bug from spreading.

Limit the illness to one area. Whether it’s the couch or a bed with a TV, give the ill person a space apart from the rest of the family.

Open a window or two. It seems counterintuitive during cold weather. But one of the factors that lead to more illnesses in winter months is shut-up homes. Opening a window once or twice a day will help clear out airborne pathogens.

Give the ill person a mask to wear. It may seem extreme, but there’s a reason these paper goodies are popping up in doctors’ offices. Considering germs spread to a six-foot radius around the infected person who is talking, sneezing and coughing, masks are an effective preventive measure against the flu.

Maintain a Strong Immune System

Despite a pharmacy on nearly every corner, many medical experts agree that a strong immune system is the best way to prevent illness. The state of New York lists immune booster supplements like exercise and diet as effective measures to preventing illness.

The Cleveland Clinic suggests that supplementing with vitamins for immune system support and increasing your antioxidant intake may help boost the immune system.

Purx ReBound contains ingredients known to be the best immune supplements. Herbs like licorice root and isatis have been shown to increase the activation of immune cells. Purx ReBound also contains vitamins C, D and A, all of which have been shown to be important vitamins for immune system support.

The flu season is starting earlier than usual in 2012 and is making headlines across the country. Before the season peaks, you can implement the above best strategies to prevent the flu. When you pay special attention to your immune system’s health, you can increase your overall sense of wellness and energy as well.

Immune System Booster to Keep You Fit

Exercise is a “wonder drug,” say researchers at Macmillan Cancer Support. While a 50 percent increase in cancer survival rates is impressive, exercise also manages and prevents heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But exercise is no slouch, so to speak. New research suggests exercise is also one of nature’s immune system boosters.

Researchers at Iowa State University divided mice into three groups. The first group was sedentary. The second group exercised moderately. The third group exercised strenuously. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19811098)

The researchers then infected the mice with influenza. The mice in the first two groups developed severe symptoms. But the moderately exercising mice experienced fewer symptoms for shorter durations.

The researchers concluded moderate exercise results in fewer symptoms and faster recovery.

Researchers at the University of Illinois wondered why moderate exercise is one of nature’s immune system boosters. They found moderate exercise enhances the immune system’s T1 cells and T2-helper cells. (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Abstract/2009/10000/Exercise_and_Respiratory_Tract_Viral_Infections.3.aspx)

T1 cells are the immune system’s fighter cells. They attack the virus, producing inflammation. When there are no more virus cells, T1 cells begin attacking the body’s own cells.

T2-helper cells tell the T1 cells to stop attacking.

To clear your body of an infection, your immune system must exquisitely balance T1 cells and T2-helper cells. Exercise, being one of nature’s immune system boosters, helps maintain that balance.

Researchers discovered that not exercising at all reduces the number of T1 cells available to fight infection. Alternately, exercising too strenuously increased T2-helper cells too rapidly, thus halting the T1 cells’ response before the immune system cleared the infection.

However, moderate exercise initiates the Goldilocks reaction: balancing T1 cells with T2-helper cells to make the immune response “just right.”

WebMD says walking 100 steps a minute for 150 minutes per week is enough to benefit from moderate exercise. (http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20090317/what-is-moderate-exercise)

But what if you are in training that requires some strenuous exercise? And what if you are exercising in a gym where bacteria live on surfaces for days?

It’s easy to avoid getting sick when you exercise strenuously or at the gym when you use an immune boosting supplement proven to enhance the immune system’s T cell response.

When herbs scientifically proven to enhance immune system function combine with vitamins vital for the immune response, the result is a superior immune boosting supplement.

When you take a high-quality immune boosting supplement while exercising strenuously, you won’t have to worry about a cold or the flu derailing your spring training. You’ll also get the benefits of a “wonder drug” that strengthens your heart, normalizes your blood pressure and prevents type 2 diabetes—without the side effects that accompany prescription drugs.

Why You Need to Boost Your Immune System with Vitamins

Vitamins are the foundation of immune system support. From improving the effectiveness of natural killer cells to safely curbing the immune response once the threat is extinguished, a healthy immune system depends on a ready supply of vitamins. But fighting viruses and bacteria isn’t the only role of vitamins. The vitamins you eat have a lot of work to do before—and if—they make it to your immune system.

In fact, eating is one activity that depletes your body’s supply of vitamins to boost immune system function.

Digested food enters your cells. Within your cells are mitochondria, tiny factories of energy. The mitochondria use the food and the oxygen you breathe to produce energy. Free radicals are a by-product of this energy manufacturing process.

Left unchecked, free radicals steal electrons from the tissues in your body, leaving them damaged. According to Mark Hyman, M.D., this damage can result in many of the illnesses we associate with aging.

The mitochondria rely on certain vitamins, also known as antioxidants, to suppress the free radicals before they can damage cells and tissues.

One such vitamin is vitamin E, one of the essential vitamins to boost immune system function. Researchers in Japan found vitamin E aids in the development of T cells within the thymus. Researchers at Tufts University found vitamin E “improves immune responsiveness in healthy individuals”  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2203257).

Vitamin C is another of the vitamins to boost immune system function that does double-duty as an antioxidant. Researchers in Germany found T cells and phagocytes require vitamin C to function properly (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19263912).

Vitamin A is also squelches free radicals. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found vitamin A is essential for the formation lymphocytes and T-helper cells. It also aids in preventing inflammation and autoimmune diseases (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19172691).

Vitamins E, C, and A are essential to healthy mitochondria function and for immune system support. If you eat food that is high in calories but low in nutrients, your mitochondria needs even more vitamin E and other antioxidants to convert the food into energy. As a result, your body may lack vitamins to boost immune system function.

The USDA survey found Americans are lacking in key nutrients. According to the survey, Americans are not getting the recommended daily allowance of vitamins E and A. Americans are not getting the amount of vitamin C necessary to boost immunity, which is 10 time the current RDA values.

Vitamins may be the foundation of immune support, but they also fight disease-causing free radicals. The many roles vitamins play in your health means you need to boost your immune system with a high-quality supplement.

How Natural Supplements for Immune System Support Differ From Cold Medicines

Viral folklore tells us to “feed a cold, starve a fever” and “don’t drink milk” to prevent congestion. These ineffective “old wives’ tales” have been replaced with cold medicines. But modern drugs with their side effects and risks may not be the best answer to cold and flu season, either. Boosting your immunity with natural immune system supplements may make you healthier without the risks and side effects of over-the-counter medications.

Cold Medicines Mask Symptoms
Ingredients in cold medicines that are nearly unpronounceable mask symptoms, but don’t aid in healing. Doxylamine relieves sneezing and watery eyes, but does nothing to help your body heal. Pseudeophedrine works as a decongestant by shrinking blood vessels in your nose. But these and other synthetic chemicals in cold medicines don’t reduce the duration or severity of your cold.

Cold Medicines Produce Side Effects
The “less serious” side effects of cold medicine can be troublesome. Drowsiness, headaches, constipation and blurred vision are just a few of the side effects of one popular cold medicine. But if an over-the-counter medicine is making you irritable or nauseous, is it really making you feel better?

Your Immune System Can Stop Colds before They Begin
“The strength of our immune system is what makes the difference between who gets sick and who doesn’t,” according to Dr. Woodson Merrill of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Vitamins are natural immune system supplements. Researchers in Japan discovered that vitamin E is a “potent antioxidant” with a powerful effect on the immune system (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10714244). They found vitamin E plays a crucial role in the formation of T cells. They also found that vitamin E supplementation can reverse lowered immunity associated with aging. Studies focusing on vitamins C, D and A have found that these vitamins have similar immune-boosting effects.

Researchers have found that medicinal herbs boost immunity as well. One such herb, Umckaloaba, has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Researchers looking for an alternative to antibiotics studied umckaloaba’s effect on 468 patients with bronchitis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12807337). They concluded that umckaloaba “clearly reduced the severity of symptoms and shortened the duration” of the illness by nearly two days.

Natural immune system supplements such as vitamin E and Umckaloaba do more than mask the symptoms of a cold. They give your immune system support so that your body’s natural defenses can keep you well. When you have a strong immune system, you are not only less likely to get sick, you won’t be plagued with the dizziness, diarrhea and insomnia that cold medicines can cause.

Best Supplements to Support Your Immune Health

The best supplements to support your immune health contain herbs proven to boost immunity. Most immune supplements only contain vitamins and minerals. As important as these nutrients are, they form an incomplete foundation for immune health. After all, herbs have been benefitting humankind for centuries and contain healthful components that can’t be whittled down to a single vitamin or mineral. The following are three herbs found in the best supplements that are scientifically proven to provide immune system support.

Isatis

Known in Chinese medicine as Quing Dai or Ban Lan Gen, Isatis has been used in China for centuries. Traditionally, Isatis is used to treat stomach, lung and heart ailments. Today, Chinese doctors use Isatis to treat colds, sore throats and even cancer.

Several components in Isatis are thought to provide immune system support, including indirubin. Researchers at Ohio State University found indirubin is effective for treating immune system deficiencies.

(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110712143006.htm)

Researchers in China (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1889106) further tested Isatis’s effect on the immune system. They found Isatis increases disease-fighting white blood cells and disease-specific antibodies.

Ginger

If your mother ever gave you ginger ale to sip when your stomach was upset as a child, then you’ve benefited from one of ginger’s traditional uses. Used in Asian cuisine and a dozen Western sweet treats, ginger is also valued for its great taste.

Though it tastes sweeter than most medicine, ginger is one of the hard-working natural immune system supplements. Researchers (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16117603) report that ginger has “broad anti-inflammatory” effects. Acknowledging that ginger has been valued for its medicinal properties for centuries, these researchers referenced scientific studies spanning 25 years that indicate ginger provides immune system support. These studies prove that ginger suppresses the formation of leukotrienes, molecules that are a primary cause of inflammation. And, unlike anti-inflammatory medications, these researchers noted that ginger is well-tolerated.

Rehmannia

As beautiful as ginger is sweet, rehmannia flowers frequently adorn gardens. But this perennial beauty packs an immune boosting punch as well. Also known as Chinese Foxglove, rehmannia is used in China for fatigue, infections and inflammation as well as other uses.

Researchers (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8330249) tested six Chinese medicinal herbs and found rehmannia to be one of the most effective supplements for immune system support. According to the researchers, rehmannia had a definite positive effect on cell-mediated immunity, that part of the immune response most effective for destroying bacterial and viral infections and tumor cells.

When you’re looking for the best supplements to boost your immune supplements, choose one containing herbs scientifically proven to enhance immunity in addition to important vitamins and minerals. Herbs are natural immune system supplements and are found in the best supplements to support your immune system. While the modern research lab has proven the benefits of herbs, it can’t replicate herbs’ immune-boosting properties that have helped humankind for centuries.

Immune System Booster to Keep You Fit

Exercise is a “wonder drug,” say researchers at Macmillan Cancer Support. While a 50 percent increase in cancer survival rates is impressive, exercise also manages and prevents heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But exercise is no slouch, so to speak. New research suggests exercise is also one of nature’s immune system boosters.

Researchers at Iowa State University divided mice into three groups. The first group was sedentary. The second group exercised moderately. The third group exercised strenuously. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19811098)

The researchers then infected the mice with influenza. The mice in the first two groups developed severe symptoms. But the moderately exercising mice experienced fewer symptoms for shorter durations.

The researchers concluded moderate exercise results in fewer symptoms and faster recovery.

Researchers at the University of Illinois wondered why moderate exercise is one of nature’s immune system boosters. They found moderate exercise enhances the immune system’s T1 cells and T2-helper cells. (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Abstract/2009/10000/Exercise_and_Respiratory_Tract_Viral_Infections.3.aspx)

T1 cells are the immune system’s fighter cells. They attack the virus, producing inflammation. When there are no more virus cells, T1 cells begin attacking the body’s own cells.

T2-helper cells tell the T1 cells to stop attacking.

To clear your body of an infection, your immune system must exquisitely balance T1 cells and T2-helper cells. Exercise, being one of nature’s immune system boosters, helps maintain that balance.

Researchers discovered that not exercising at all reduces the number of T1 cells available to fight infection. Alternately, exercising too strenuously increased T2-helper cells too rapidly, thus halting the T1 cells’ response before the immune system cleared the infection.

However, moderate exercise initiates the Goldilocks reaction: balancing T1 cells with T2-helper cells to make the immune response “just right.”

WebMD says walking 100 steps a minute for 150 minutes per week is enough to benefit from moderate exercise. (http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20090317/what-is-moderate-exercise)

But what if you are in training that requires some strenuous exercise? And what if you are exercising in a gym where bacteria live on surfaces for days?

It’s easy to avoid getting sick when you exercise strenuously or at the gym when you use an immune boosting supplement proven to enhance the immune system’s T cell response.

When herbs scientifically proven to enhance immune system function combine with vitamins vital for the immune response, the result is a superior immune boosting supplement.

When you take a high-quality immune boosting supplement while exercising strenuously, you won’t have to worry about a cold or the flu derailing your spring training. You’ll also get the benefits of a “wonder drug” that strengthens your heart, normalizes your blood pressure and prevents type 2 diabetes—without the side effects that accompany prescription drugs.

3 Myths About Herb Supplements for Immune System Boost

Herbs are a proven and effective way to support your immune system. Herbal Supplement use is projected to increase by 30 percent to reach $107 billion in sales by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts. Despite increasing acceptance from the healthcare community and the public, several myths still surround herbal supplements for immune system support.

Myth: Herbal Supplements Are Not Adequately Researched

In fact, millions are spent each year to research Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), including herbal supplements.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Cancer Institute spent nearly $89 million to study various alternative therapies in 2004. The U.S. government’s research powerhouse, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, spent about $33 million researching CAM in 2005.

Myth: It’s Difficult to Know If Herbal Supplements Will Interfere with My Doctor’s Existing Treatments

 Over the counter and prescription medications can adversely interact with a number of substances, even food.

However, a simple step could greatly reduce your chances of adverse interactions with your doctor’s treatments. According to a paper published in American Family Physician, only 70 percent of patients who use alternative therapies tell their doctors.

And doctors are more accepting of alternative treatments. A study published in Health Services Research determined 83 percent of doctors and nurses use CAM themselves.

Myth: Herbal Supplements Are Too Complicated to Use

Indeed there are approximately 7000 species of edible or medicinal plants, according to Plants For A Future, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable food production.

Plants for a Future offers a searchable database (http://www.pfaf.org/user/plantsearch.aspx) with information about all 7000 edible and medicinal plants. After you sign up for a free account on Medscape, you can view a table listing common adverse interactions between herbal supplements and prescription medications here (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/409518_5).

When you learn about herbal supplements, you’re doing more than getting smarter—you’re improving all areas of your life.

Stanford University reports that patients who participated in a program to self-manage their health spent less time in the hospital, experienced fewer limitations on their activities and saved money.

Supplements that combine the herbs and vitamins you need to boost immune system function make it easier to incorporate herbs into your lifestyle. In just one bottle, you are getting everything you need to for your immune system. Herbal supplements are enhanced when they combine with the right vitamins.

With increased use of herbal supplements, breaking through myths is easier than ever.

Even better, people who are self-educated about their health exercise more, enjoy more energy and have a stronger immune system. Herbal supplements are intrinsic to achieving that healthy lifestyle.

Best Vitamins for Boosting Immune System

Your immune system suffers when you’re surrounded by sniffles and coughs or feeling frazzled by all of life’s demands. Exercising and eating well are great immune system enhancers, but take time and discipline to implement. With countless meetings, errands and infected door handles, how do you boost your immune system quickly and effectively?

Whether you’re scrambling to get out the door or skipping your workout for an early morning meeting, immune boosting supplements offer a quick and easy boost. Several vitamins play key roles in boosting immune system function. Make sure your supplements for boosting immune system function contain the following vitamins.

Vitamin A

According to research by Harvard Medical School, vitamin A has an “unexpected and crucial effect on the immune system.” Specifically, vitamin A metabolizes into retinoic acid as well as other chemicals that are natural immune system boosters. Retinoic acid performs several roles in the immune system.

First, retinoic acid enhances the immune system’s cytotoxicity, which is its ability to kill antigens. Antigens are anything—from viruses to cancer cells—that can potentially make you sick.

Retinoic acid makes your immune system better able to kill these antigens by increasing the activity of dendritic cells and enhancing the production of T cells. Dendritic cells capture antigens and produce chemicals called cytokines to stimulate your immune system. T cells respond to this chemical activation by performing a number of functions. One of these functions is to destroy antigens.

While retinoic acid makes T cells and dendritic better at what they do, another vitamin A metabolite, retro-retinoids, actually increases the number of B cells your body produces. B cells differ from T cells in that they produce antibodies to fight infection rather than directly attacking antigens.

By metabolizing into retinoic acid and retro-retinoids, vitamin A has a powerful effect on the immune system. Vitamin A influences T cells, B cells and even little-known, but powerful, dendritic cells, making vitamin A one of the essential vitamins for boosting immune system function.

Vitamin D

Like vitamin A, vitamin D metabolizes into several compounds to boost immune system function. In the form of these metabolites, vitamin D plays a crucial role in the formation of suppressor T cells.

Suppressor T cells prevent the immune system from overreacting. When you get sick, your immune system goes into action. Dendritic cells secrete chemicals that act as a call to arms. Cytotoxic T cells respond by directly attacking antigens in a way that amounts to hand-to-hand combat. Like a soldier overtaken by adrenaline, these cytotoxic T cells may not know when to stop attacking. Yet if they continue their assault, you could develop a disorder in which your immune system begins attacking your own body’s cells.1 Using chemicals called lymphokines, suppressor T cells halt cytotoxic T cells before they destroy your own body’s cells and cause an autoimmune disease.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one such autoimmune disease. Many researchers, including those at the University of Wisconsin, hypothesize that vitamin D deficiency plays a crucial role in the development of MS. They say that this hypothesis would explain why MS occurs in locations away from the equator, but is nearly nonexistent in equatorial areas, where sun exposure stimulates vitamin D production. Recent studies suggest that vitamin D’s role in activating suppressor T cells may explain this phenomenon.2

With its role in activating suppressor T cells that regulate your immune system, Vitamin D is a natural immune booster that aids in the prevention of autoimmune disorders.

Vitamin C

Researchers in Switzerland report that vitamin C is one of the vitamins that play “important roles in immune function” and reduce the “risks, severity, and duration of infectious diseases.”3

Vitamin C is a natural immune booster several ways. First, it improves natural killer (NK) cell activity, which is essential in a natural remedy for cold sore outbreaks. NK cells help defend your body against viruses and are essential for preventing cold sore outbreaks. NK cells release special proteins that restrict viral infections while your body is producing the cytotoxic T cells it needs to heal itself.6

Vitamin C also contributes to the increased production of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells produced in the bone marrow that go on to become either T cells or B cells.

Vitamin C also improves the chemotaxis quality of immune system cells. Chemotaxis refers to the cells’ ability to move in response to chemical stimulus. Essentially, the success of your immune system depends on the abilities of its cells, such as B cells and T cells, to move toward infections.

Your body uses vitamin C to fight infections in a surprising number of ways and may be a natural remedy for cold sore outbreaks. From improving NK cell activity to increasing white blood cells to helping cells find their way through your bloodstream, Vitamin C is a natural immune booster.

Vitamin E

Researchers in Japan say that vitamin E is a “potent antioxidant” and is an “important nutrient” for immune system support. Much of vitamin E’s significance lies in its impact on T cells as they mature in the thymus.4

White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. A subset of these white blood cells travels to the thymus where they are “educated” to become T cells. Within the thymus, each T cell learns a specific job. Helper T cells support other cells of the immune system. Cytoxic T cells destroy infected cells during an immune response. Memory T cells are responsible for long-term immunity such as against chicken pox. Suppressor T cells keep the immune system in check, preventing allergies and autoimmune disorders. As we age past puberty, our thymus significantly reduces its output of T cells.5

The researchers in Japan found that vitamin E supplementation “markedly improved” this “decreased cellular immunity with aging” and is a natural immune booster. They found that supplementing with vitamin E actually improved the process by which T cells matured to their specialized roles.4

While good nutrition and exercise are important immunity boosters, taking vitamins for boosting immune system function is part of a comprehensive healthy lifestyle, especially when they include vitamins that are natural cures for cold sores. Studies have shown that the above vitamins are especially important for immune system health and are in the best immune supplements.

 

1 Mora JR, Iwata M, von Andrian UH. Vitamin effect on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage. Retrieved January 19, 2012 from

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906676/?tool=pubmed

2 Hayes CE, Cantorna MT, Deluca HF. Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis. Retrieved January 19, 2012 from

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9316607

3 Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Retrieved January 19, 2012 from

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373990

4 Moriguchi S, Muranga M. Vitamin E and immunity. Retrieved January 20, 2012 from

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10714244

5 Clermont College Biology Course. Immune System. Retrieved January 20, 2012 from

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio105/immune.htm

6 Science Daily. Science Reference. Natural killer cell. Retrieved January 25, 2012 from

http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/n/natural_killer_cell.htm

 

5 Tips to Boost Your Ability to Focus

Our technology may be turning us into scatterbrains and the resulting dip in productivity means less time for eating and exercising for immune system support. According to Wired.com, researchers at Stanford found that people who heavily used technological media were more distracted and less able to concentrate. Distractions such as email, social media, even in-text hyperlinks, contribute our declining abilities to focus, process information and remain productive. How do we make the most of the information age without turning back time? The following tips will help you improve your focus without shunning technology.

Write down your goals. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that consumers who focused on goals exerted more self-control even when they felt tired or depleted. Likewise, when you focus on the negative aspects of your immediate situation, such as your gnawing hunger or work overload, you are much more likely to cave into distractions.

Sweeten your focus with sugar in your coffee. MailOnline.com reports that researchers at the University of Barcelona discovered that coffee sweetened with sugar gave participants a bigger brain boost than sugar or coffee by itself. Scientists have known that coffee stimulates the brain and glucose, or sugar, is a primary fuel that brain cells need to function. This study, however, which involved scanning the brains of 40 volunteers, found that combining sugar and coffee multiplied their positive effects on the brain.

Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking. ADDitude Magazine reports that scientists from the University of Michigan found that any form of multitasking requires the brain to switch gears, resulting in lost productivity. So when you’re studying or working, don’t answer the phone or check your email. In other words, eliminate as many distractions as possible to improve your focus.

Stop trading sleep for study or work time. Because there are only so many hours in the day, it’s tempting to cut down on immune system boosters like sleep to fit in more study or work time. According to Science Daily, depriving yourself of sleep actually reduces your ability to focus. Researchers found that “minor degrees of sleep restriction can impair alertness and performance.” The University of Georgia says that college students average 6–6.9 hours of sleep. Experts recommend that adults get at least 8 hours of sleep to combat fatigue and improve focus.

Build your attention muscles with a timer. The Pomodoro technique is a popular time-management system recommended by Steven Sande of Apple, Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal and several time-management blogs. With this technique, you set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes and work on one task. If you can’t focus for 25 minutes without checking your email or otherwise being distracted, then start with a smaller time increment and work your way up. In this way, you’ll gradually build your attention muscles and be able to focus for longer periods of time.

The information age can make us smarter without making us inattentive. You can fight information overload with the focus-boosting tips above. Use your increased productivity to find the time for activities that are immune system enhancers, like exercising, eating well and resting.

3 Reasons You’re Getting Sick at College (And 3 Fixes)

You can spend less time in the campus clinic this semester if you remember not to make these three simple mistakes.

1. Not Washing your Hands

When you’re living, eating, studying and playing with hundreds of other students, not washing your hands regularly is a big deal. Germs can easily be picked up from all kinds of objects in an instant.1 Touching your eyes, mouth or nose, with dirty hands is asking for trouble.

The Fix: Wash your hands with water that is as hot as you can stand it, use plenty of soap and scrub for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer in places like the gym and computer lab where germs tend to build up. Bonus tip: use hand sanitizer before you eat to kill the germs you picked up in the checkout line.

2. Pulling an All-Nighter 

Whether it’s a cool party or you’re trying to finish that research paper that has to be in by morning, you are doing yourself more harm than good by ditching sleep. Not getting your ZZZs will weaken your immune system, increase your chance of depression and make it difficult for you to concentrate on your work.

The Fix: A little planning will keep you healthy, in good standing on the Dean’s list, and within enviable social circles. Keep a detailed calendar of your assignments and due dates. Break each assignment into manageable tasks. Tackle schoolwork every day so that when a must-go-to party comes up, you can indulge in the fun and rest the next day without having to cram in an all-nighter.

3. Succumbing to Stress

You have a tight class schedule, three papers due by the end of the week and you’re playing sports or trying to hold down a part-time job to help pay for your tuition. While a little stress will help to motivate you, too much will affect you performance and concentration, leave you feeling tired and make you more vulnerable to illness.

The Fix: Look inward. No, you don’t have to meditate and learn about your chakras, but you do have diligently search for the method that helps you deal with stress. The methods that other students have found helpful include journaling, exercising, listening to music or watching comedy television. When you find one or two methods of relieving stress, commit yourself to them. Rather than keeping you from your schoolwork, spending time to relax will increase your productivity.

Reference List

  (1)   Julian TR, Leckie JO, Boehm AB. Virus transfer between fingerpads and fomites. J Appl Microbiol 2010 December;109(6):1868-74.