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    Supporting Your Immune System

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | November 13th, 2023

    Supporting Your Immune System

    It is that time of the year when we want to be diligent about protecting ourselves from colds, flu, and whatever elements may cause us to get sick. Our immune system plays a critical role, so we must do all we can to support our immune system. 

    Supporting our immune system starts in our kitchen. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential. Food provides the necessary micronutrients to make our immune cells work well. This evening, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Queen City Metropolitan Chapter, in partnership with George Washington Carver Food Research Institute, will host a virtual cooking demonstration. You can register for the program by clicking here. Upon registration, a list of ingredients will be provided, and you can cook with the host. 

    Although specific micronutrients help with the growth of immune cells, like vitamins C and D, selenium, iron, and zinc, when you eat a balanced diet, you will get these micronutrients and more. There are times when you may not have access to a balanced diet. In this case, it would be preferable to take a multivitamin instead of trying to guess what vitamins you should take.

    Along with a well-balanced diet, you must also do the following to support your immune system:

    1. Exercise regularly – something is better than nothing. 
    2. Limit your alcohol use – you can choose not to drink, but if you must, then no more than two drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women.
    3. Stop smoking-this includes vaping and marijuana use. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, you can call the hotline – 1-800-QUIT-NOW. It does not matter if it is legal; like cigarettes, marijuana can weaken your immune system.
    4. Get enough sleep – aim for 7 – 9 hours a night.
    5. Manage stress – it is okay to ask for help if you need help. 
    6. Wash your hands regularly – if you do not have access to water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 %, ideally 70% of ethyl alcohol.
    7. Get vaccinated – vaccinations work by imitating an infection, which causes the immune system to produce antibodies. Vaccines prime the immune system so they can fight disease.

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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