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    Mayo Clinic Minute: How to maintain a healthy immune system

The body's immune system protects against bacteria, viruses, toxins and other potentially harmful elements. When your immune system is strong, you may not notice it at work, but when it's weakened, symptoms of illness can soon follow.

Maintaining a healthy body often starts by taking the steps to give your immune system a boost. And this isn't something that can be done quickly.

Watch the Mayo Clinic Minute.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video natural sound pkg (1:00) is available in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

Between seasonal illnesses and the COVID-19 pandemic, your immune system may be top of mind.

"Return to basic healthy lifestyle principles: Eating well and sleeping, while reducing stress and trying to stay physically active," says Dr. Stephen McMullan, a Mayo Clinic family medicine physician.

Your immune system requires care and is not something you can give a lasting boost overnight, so don't rush to the cabinet for pills or powders.

"I think a misconception is that there are supplements or products out there that can really boost the immune system. Unfortunately, they haven't really had robust evidence that they're highly effective," says Dr. McMullan.

Think about long-term adjustments to your lifestyle: a diet that includes lean proteins, seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, daily exercise, and eliminating stressors in your life. The results can help you stay healthy past seasonal illnesses.

"Healthy lifestyles can also reduce the risk for certain diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes," says Dr. McMullan.

For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.