Leading a healthful lifestyle is one way to decrease your chances of getting sick. As we are approaching cold and flu season during a pandemic, making healthy choices is more important than ever.

NDSU Extension-Stutsman County is putting on a virtual program series called "Nourish Your Body and Mind." Each month, two virtual programs will be released on timely topics to help you make healthful choices. In November, the topics are "Nourish Your Immune System" and "Managing Stress for Better Health."

To register, go to ag.ndsu.edu/stutsmancountyextension or visit our Facebook page (search for NDSU Extension-Stutsman County). Once you register, you will receive a link to the virtual program on the program’s launch date. As a part of this program, you will receive access to videos, healthy recipes and a variety of other informational content on each topic. There is no cost to these programs. If you are interested in this information, but do not have access to the technology, please contact the Extension office at 701-252-9030.

While you wait for the first programs to launch, here are some tips to get you moving in the right direction.

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Eat a Well-balanced and Healthful Diet

Some nutrients have specific roles in helping the immune system work properly. For example, vitamins A, D, E, C, B6 and B12, and folate, as well as the minerals zinc, iron and selenium, have been shown to have an impact on immune health. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lean protein to include these nutrients in your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids have an impact on inflammation and immune function. Omega03 fatty acids are found in salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and sardines, as well as walnuts, flaxseed and canola and soybean oil.

Decreasing the amount of fatty foods in your diet and watching portion sizes are also important for immune health.

Get Plenty of Exercise and Rest

Moderate-intensity, regular exercise has been shown to improve immune function, reduce the risk for upper respiratory tract infections, and reduce the severity of inflammation-related diseases and the incidence of some cancers. Exercise also is an important component in counteracting the effects of aging on the immune system.

Moderate-intensity activities include walking fast, doing water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground, playing double tennis or pushing a lawn mower.

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week. Muscle-strengthening activities are also important to incorporate into your exercise routine. Strengthen your muscles at least two times per week by lifting weights, or doing heavy yard work or yoga.

For more information on this topic, be sure to register for the "Nourish Your Immune System" virtual program at ag.ndsu.edu/stutsmancountyextension or contact Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension agent, at 701-252-9030 or christina.rittenbach@ndsu.edu