The immune system is a unique network of sub-systems that are comprised of cells and organs with the sole purpose of protecting the body from foreign invaders that will cause immediate or long term damage to one or more parts. Just as the internal organs such as heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys should be protected, so does the entire immune system as it is the body’s first and only natural line of defense.
Below is information that will guide people on how to boost their immune system, including practical tips on how to strengthen their body’s defense against infection. Also included are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding how the immune system works, what threatens it, and what things to avoid in order to maintain its optimal function.
Diet and your immune system
You are what you eat. This popular adage holds true in terms of assessing how a person’s immune system is doing, based simply on his/her diet practices. Every food particle that passes through your mouth and is processed by the digestive system can impact the state of the immune system and its capacity to defend the body against unwanted invaders.
In the past two decades, many studies have shown an increase in the instances of autoimmune diseases as well as infection-related disease. In addition, such drastic change is largely attributed to unhealthy diet choices, especially by people from the United States as well as a few countries in Europe. It appears that there is a widespread problem in terms of making correct food choices, as people get used to eating take-out or fast food. Due to their busy schedules and utter indifference to acquiring basic culinary skills, many people resort to eating processed meals that are not only lacking in nutrients but also contain potentially toxic materials.
Making a Change in Your Diet Practice
It has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day mainly because it is the first load of food that the body receives and processes. It is crucial to take this meal seriously by choosing the right types of foods.
Instead of eating processed meat, i.e. bacon and other greasy foods, you might want to get the following instead:
Grapefruit/pomelo- Both these citrus fruits are filled with vitamin C, which is known to effectively prevent colds and other infections. In addition, grapefruit is a great source of dietary fiber, which is known to be good for digestion. Not only will you get a load of nutrients from these fruits but you also simultaneously clean-up your colon, stomach, and intestines.
Note: grapefruit and pomelo are highly recommended for people who are looking to prepare for a full-on colon cleanse or detox diet program
Whole wheat grains, oats, and barley- Bran, plain cornflakes, oatmeal, and other similar items are best to replace sugar-laced cereal in the morning. Whole wheat grains are known for containing high concentration of dietary fiber as well as antioxidants, which allow the body’s cells to regenerate quickly and remain healthy for a very long time. Studies have shown that animals who subsist primarily on these plants are more resistant to infections such as Influenza, Herpes, and even Anthrax.
Berries- You can choose from among many different kinds of berries, i.e. strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. The sheer concentration of antioxidants in these fruits is reason enough to have at least a single serving each morning.
Honey- While this is merely an alternative to sugar for most people, honey is in fact a wonderful immune system booster. Not only does it contain antioxidants, but it also has potent antibacterial properties. Whether you consume it as it is, or mix it with your daily tea/coffee, it is always a good idea to have a daily dose of honey.
Yogurt- This food item is quite flexible since it can be eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Yogurt contains probiotics (live cultures), which are necessary in maintaining balance in the body especially in the digestive tract. It is important to remember that a healthy reserve of good bacteria is necessary in order to keep the body ready to fight off infection at the very first sign of it.
Lunch and dinner
Many people assume that their food choices would be severely limited if and when they decide to eat healthy. On the contrary, you still get to enjoy gastronomic delights even while making smart and healthy eating choices. Here are some of the most important ingredients that should be included in your lunch and dinner foods.
Garlic- For many centuries, this bulb has brought so much health benefits, including antibacterial properties that can effectively combat infection. In ancient times, garlic has been known to be used on disinfecting wounds in order to prevent gangrene. These days, garlic is usually avoided by people who do not want to get bad breath. However, a foul smelling breath (which can easily be remedies by munching on a mint, brushing, or gargling mouthwash) is a small price to pay for a strong immune system. Two or three crushed cloves per day will do very well in strengthening your body’s primary defenses.
Fish and other seafood- Selenium is a very important nutrient that allows the body to effectively protect itself from infectious microorganisms and other unwanted invaders. A serving of fish or other types of seafood, i.e. lobster, prawns, shrimp, crabs, etc would be a great habit that would benefit the immune system as well as other internal organs.
Black pepper- This seasoning is high in piperine, which effectively combats colds and high fever. You might want to load up your salad and/or steak with freshly ground black pepper whenever possible.
Thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano- These herbs are more than just wonderful ingredients that lend more flavor and depth to various dishes. They have also been proven effective in fighting off infection and treating various symptoms of a weakened immune system.
Is it Really Good for the Immune System?
Yes. A healthy amount of physical exertion is always good for the body as well as the mind. In fact, people who exercise regularly are found to be less prone to infections, i.e. common colds and other types of contagion. However, there is such thing as too much exercise, which can become counter-intuitive. Keep in mind that the body needs to recuperate and repair itself so exercise needs to be followed closely by rest and hydration.
Cardio routines as well as muscle training should be limited to 3-4 times per week, unless you are a professional athlete whose body is tuned to withstand rigorous workouts on a daily basis.
Healthy sex life
what does it do for the immune system?
While there has yet to be a definitive study regarding the actual effects of an active sex life to the immune system, several studies strongly suggest that people who have sex at least 2-3 times per week are less prone to contracting infectious diseases. This is of course assuming that they practice safe sex and are not already carrying sexually transmitted diseases.
Since it is virtually impossible for the body to receive all the necessary nutrients from food sources alone, it is highly recommended to take supplements regularly. Multivitamins are a must and so are other supplements that are specifically designed to aid in the nourishment of specific organs such as the liver, kidney, and many others. However, you should be very careful in terms of choosing which supplements to take. Natural products are best to use since they do not have any side effects.
Note: Only take vitamins at the recommended dosage. Doubling up on daily dosages is never a good idea since the excess vitamins will only get flushed out through the urine. In addition, excessive intake of certain vitamins and/or minerals, i.e. iron can damage internal organs such as the kidneys. It would also be good to read labels carefully and check up on product reviews before buying them, especially in the case of supplements and health boosters. Not all health products in the market can be trusted so be sure to perform due diligence.
What not to do
Here are some of the things you should avoid in order to protect your immune system from damage:
- Excessive drinking
- Recreational drugs (heroine, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, etc)
- Abuse of Prescription medications (antidepressants, pain management medications such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, etc)
- Junk food and/or fast food (anything that contains preservatives, excessive animal fat, and other artificial additives)
- High levels of stress (try to find a way to relieve stress such as weekly massage, meditation, or just a few quiet moments each day)
The immune system is a remarkable network that is designed to be resilient and enduring. However, there should be no reason why you cannot make wise choices to protect it and ensure that it works properly all the time.
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