Researchers have been making amazing discoveries about your immune system's powers over your health.
There's now an anti-cancer treatment that empowers your immune system's warrior T cells to knock out multiplying cancer cells. Researchers used certain antibodies to "unlock" the tumor-attacking ability of T cells in nearly 300 people; 28 percent of folks with melanoma (the deadliest skin cancer) saw their tumors shrink; the same happened for 27 percent of the study participants with kidney cancer and 18 percent with lung cancer.
Meanwhile, researchers at Columbia University announced that for some people, Parkinson's disease may turn out to be an autoimmune disorder. That means the neurological symptoms of Parkinson's disease - tremors and shaking, for example - occur because immune-system cells mistakenly attack and kill specific neurons. This idea could lead to new ways to treat and prevent the condition.
To keep your immune system running at peak efficiency, here are six proven ways to turn summer fun into solid immunity:
Drink iced tea. Classic black tea contains l-theanine; it primes the immune system's gamma-delta T cells to respond five times faster to invading bacteria and viruses. Meanwhile, a compound in green tea increases the number of regulatory T cells; they help rev up or tone down immune-system activity. Love herbal tea? Go for chamomile. This relaxing botanical increases blood levels of hippurate and glycine, which aid infection-fighting.
Have more fun. Outdoor concerts, hiking, street fairs: Stroll and take in the view: your immune system loves goofing off. Just anticipating something you enjoy bolsters immunity by reducing levels of immune-weakening stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
Enjoy easy exercise. It turns out playful exercise routines that speed up and slow down are kinder to your immune system than hard-charging, steady-paced workouts.
Have a glass of wine. In moderation, alcohol can enhance immune response and bolster your reaction to vaccines. Not an alcohol drinker? You can get your immune benefit by snacking on fresh berries or grapes, or opt for peanuts.
Visit the farmers market. Bump up your fruit and veggie quotient. Produce (wash it well) seems to support the activity of infection-fighting T-cells. And the fiber it contains feeds immune-boosting good bacteria in your digestive system.
Now, relax. Kicking back in a hammock for some serious R&R is deep-down good for you. It busts stress, which wears down immunity, and then relaxation goes a step further: One recent study found that deep rest switches on genes involved in healthy immune functioning. Yoga and meditation get you into this zone.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.