A healthy body begins with a healthy immune system and good food is one of the best ways to help ensure good immunity and prevent diseases.
Protection From Disease-Causing Microbes
Every day and every moment, we come across germs, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that want to enter and grow within us. Their main point of entry is our skin, lungs, and gut. If we have a weak immune system, these organisms can find their way into our bodies easily resulting in cold, infections and diseases that are more serious. Good immune systems help defend the bacteria from entering the body. These bacteria and viruses like to feed on our good cells, consequently weaken our immune system and as a result, we get more and sicker. Hence, we need to work on a strong immune system, which can fight these bacteria and viruses.
Consuming processed foods, trans fats and neglecting to consume a balanced diet are all factors that negatively affect our immune system and can easily make us susceptible to allergies and diseases.
Despite the fact that your world is filled with infectious microorganisms, most of the time, you are reasonably healthy, right? Thank your immune system, which defends you from disease-causing microbes, without even getting you a hint. Now, step beyond gratitude to optimize the function of that system.
Here are a few ideas to strengthen your immune system:
- Catch some rays. Sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. In the summer, a 10-15 minute exposure (minus sunscreen) is enough. Low vitamin D levels correlate with a greater risk of respiratory infection. A 2010 study in kids showed that 1200 IU a day of supplemental vitamin D reduced the risk of influenza A. However, a 2012 study that involved supplementing adults with colon cancer with 1000 IU a day failed to demonstrate protection against upper respiratory infections.
- Get enough sleep and manage stress. Sleep deprivation and stress overload increase the hormone cortisol, prolonged elevation of which suppresses immune function.
- Avoid tobacco smoking. It undermines basic immune defenses and enhances the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia in everyone, and middle ear infections in kids.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They will provide your body with the nutrients your immune system needs. A study in older adults showed that boosting fruit and vegetable intake improved antibody response to the Pneumovax vaccine, which protects against Streptococcus pneumonia.
- Consider probiotics. Studies indicate supplements reduce the incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Fermented milk products have also been reported to reduce respiratory infections in adults and kids.
- Go for the garlic. Garlic is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and immune booster. Because heat deactivates a key active ingredient, add it to foods just before serving.
- Try immune-supportive herbs. If you get recurrent infections, consider taking immune-supportive herbs such as eleuthero, Asian ginseng, American ginseng or astragalus.
Let us know if you tried any of these ideas!