Infections are one source of disease that you can do something about. There are many safeguards that reduce the chance of infection and support the immune system, which is front-line in fighting infection.

Wash your hands several times daily with warm soapy water. Do not use antibacterial soaps – they kill off normal bacteria, creating an environment for resistant, mutated bacteria that are impervious to antibacterials, including antibiotics. Clean and dress wounds to prevent exposure to bacteria.

Dress properly in cold weather. Obtain adequate rest and sleep. Recent studies show that many Americans are sleep-deprived; the body needs sleep to regenerate. Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, both in food and in the environment. Drink pure water, and, as much as possible, breathe clean air. Look into water filtration systems for both drinking and bathing – the skin absorbs as well as eliminates impurities. There are reasonably priced air filtration units for both home and office. Turning on the air filter in your car may reduce exhaust fumes.

Consider having your dental work re-evaluated. Mercury used in amalgams is known to inhibit the immune system. Fillings can be changed to non-toxic materials. Crowns are generally lined with metallic materials that can interfere with the body’s immune system. Bacteria can be trapped in the jaw below root canals and cause low-grade, long-term infections that keep your energy and feel-good index low.

A healthy diet including vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and zinc is important for the immune system. Fresh, organic foods contain much higher amounts of nutrients than commercially processed and artificial ‘junk’ foods. Buy meats that are antibiotic-free and hormone-free. Your mother was right – eat slowly and chew thoroughly.

Thyroid activity is important for the immune system. A basal temperature test is an indicator of thyroid activity, better than standard blood tests for thyroid hormones. Get a basal thermometer and take your body temperature several mornings in a row. If it is low, your thyroid may be under-active. This can be corrected through supplementation.

Deep breathing, which helps oxygenate the blood, has a very beneficial effect on the immune system, as do saunas, steam baths, yoga, and other natural health practices. Go outside and play. Get some exercise.

Finally, thoughts and attitudes also affect your immune system. Fear and worry tend to weaken it, while positive, inspiring thoughts have a beneficial effect. Meditation is a useful practice for learning equanimity. You are the artist in residence! Sweet dreams.