Willpower your Immune System for Wellness
A strong immune system tends to decrease the duration and severity of infectious diseases. The immune system is responsible for fighting disease-causing micro-organisms like bacteria, viruses, molds and fungi.
People can boost their immune systems by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthy, managing stress, laughing and establishing better social networks.
Everyday Health explains that sunlight is important because it leads to production of vitamin D. In summertime, 10 to 15 minutes of daily sunlight–with sunscreen–is sufficient. Other times of the year, sunlight may be too weak, and vitamin D supplements can help.
It is recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night to keep stress hormones in balance. People should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day because it helps stave off colds and releases hormones that induce positive emotions. Exercise often also leads to better sleep.
Consuming too many carbohydrates can lead to a decrease in immune system cells that destroy bacteria. A healthy diet that helps the immune system should focus on foods high in vitamins C and E, zinc and beta carotene. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as citrus, apple, kale, grapes and carrots are good. Stress hurts the immune system, so dealing with stress by slowing down, meditating and making friends also helps.
7 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Immunity
These foods are rich in antioxidants that protect your cells from damage by free radicals. Furthermore, foods rich in vitamin C help fight obesity.
Vitamin C usually works in conjunction with other micronutrients. So, you need to lay emphasis on other vitamins and minerals, too, such as vitamin A, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and so on.
Probiotics like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are excellent for immunity. Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that boost the digestive health.
In fact, recent studies indicate that lack of sleep is likely to make you more susceptible to cold and flu. Thus, a good sleeping pattern providing adequate sleep is useful for regulating and balancing the immune system.
It is during sleep that the immune system releases protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies. Adults generally need about 6-8 hours of sleep.
The sunshine vitamin, that is, vitamin D, tends to improve immunity, increase the number of white blood cells, and decrease the risk of infections.
Plus, it stimulates circulation, soothes your nerves, and increases the production of serotonin and endorphins that make you feel better.
Thus, it is suggested to go outside and soak in the sun for about 20 minutes, daily. In addition, when out in the sun, you get to breathe fresh, clean air free of germs and irritants.
Incorporate activities like jogging, bicycling, yoga, swimming, etc. in your routine, at least 30 minutes, a few times in a week in order to strengthen your immune system.
Medicinal Herbs are key to Enhanced Immune Protection
Chaparral(Creosote) and Black Cumin(Black Seed) are one of the strongest medicinal herbs to enhance the immune system.
They are anti bacterial, anti viral, anti microbial, anti fungal.
Silymarin from Milk-thistle enhances the immunity of the Liver and maintains a healthy general organ.
Astragalus is another immunostimulant herb that strengthens resistance and inhibits cancer.
Eat medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake (sometimes sold as “hen of the woods”). A recent study showed that a concentrated extract of shiitake enhanced immune function in women with breast cancer. Agaricus blazei, Agaricus brasiliensis or Agaricus rufotegulis) is a species of mushroom, commonly known as almond mushroom, mushroom of the sun, God’s mushroom, mushroom of life.
Other immune-supportive herbs- If you get recurrent infections, consider taking immune-supportive herbs such as eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticocus), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
Astaxanthin is a purple micro algae that is a superior enhancer for the Immune System.
Before incorporating these herbs in your diet, though, it is recommended to consult with your doctor as they have some side effects. Plus, they may interfere with certain medications.
Lean proteins contain a non-essential amino acid called glutamine, which promotes healthy immune function. In addition, it is good for digestive health and helps repair tissues.
Thus, you can have dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, etc. Seafood and skinless poultry are also good sources of lean proteins and glutamine.
Besides, vegetarians and vegans can opt for cabbage, beans, spinach, beets, kale, celery, soy products, and so on.
Nuts, too, are good sources of proteins. Plus, make sure you take nutrient-rich foods rather than fast foods with empty calories.
Negatives for the Immune System
Sugar: There is strong evidence that sugar has a negative effect on the function of the immune system. When white blood cells are exposed to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, they have a decreased ability to engulf bacteria and have weakened systemic resistance to all infections. What is a high level of sugar? The normal sugar level in the bloodstream is approximately one teaspoon. A single can of soda or a bowl of ice cream has 12 teaspoons of sugar. The digestive system is overtaxed trying to prevent all that sugar from entering the bloodstream all at once, and the pancreas is also working hard to produce enough insulin to process the sugar. This is a lot of stress on your body. Refined carbohydrates, such as most breads and baked goods act pretty much like sugar in the body. These refined foods also lack the beneficial nutrients and fiber that are present in whole grains, and actually cause a depletion of minerals in your body. Try finding foods that are more gently sweetened with fruit juice, rice syrup or barley malt.
Coffee: Caffeine is a diuretic that contributes to the body’s loss of important nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Caffeine places stress on the adrenal glands (already stressed out from our hectic lifestyles) and adversely affects the nervous system, resulting in anxiety, hyperactivity, and insomnia.
Healing occurs when the body is relaxed and its energy can be channeled inward. Regular consumption of caffeine deprives the body of this relaxed state. The acid in coffee eats away the villi of the small intestine, reducing their effectiveness in supporting nutrient assimilation. Thus the acids in coffee may cause as much problem as the caffeine. Try milder forms of caffeine such as green tea, or try the various caffeine-free coffee substitutes. Mix them with your coffee to gradually reduce your caffeine dependence.
Alcohol: When consumed in excess, alcohol is a poison to every system of your body. It depresses the nervous system, inhibits the bone marrow’s ability to regenerate blood cells, is toxic to the liver, depletes B-vitamins, and is dehydrating. If you are taking protease inhibitors, which place significant stress on the liver, alcohol intake must be very moderate. Anyone with chronic hepatitis B or C should pay particular attention to this added stress to the liver, and try to avoid alcohol as much as possible.
Raw foods: Foods such as clams, oysters, sushi, very rare meats, and undercooked eggs contain infectious bacteria and intestinal parasites. Infections that would not bother most people can be life-threatening for those with compromised immune systems. Even alfalfa and bean sprouts, which are usually associated with “health food,” contain a natural toxin that can harm the immune system. They really should be cooked before eating. Raw fruits and vegetables should be well washed before eating.
Rancid fats and oils: These create free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can initiate chain reactions of chemical disruption, injuring cell membranes, enzymes, and DNA. They have a negative impact on a wide range of conditions such as aging, cancer, inflammation, degenerative disease, viral infections, and AIDS. Common sources of rancid fats and oils are nuts, chips, baked goods, and fried foods.
At higher temperatures and exposure to light, oils and fats turn rancid more quickly. When foods are deep-fried, the fats used reach very high temperatures, and if the oil is re-used, as is invariably the case, the oxidative effect is magnified. Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils, unless cold-pressed, are heated to high temperatures during processing. Hydrogenated vegetable oils, including shortenings and margarine, are also heat processed. These are all sources of free radicals. In addition, nitrates have been shown to cause cancer and should be avoided; they are found in hot dogs, sausages, salami and smoked meats.
Food allergies: Many people are sensitive to certain foods, which can result in symptoms including intestinal distress, fatigue, and even weight gain. Common foods that create such problems are dairy, eggs, gluten (the protein in wheat), soy, corn, and food additives. Individuals that experience any of the above symptoms should experiment with eliminating these foods from their diets for a few weeks to see what changes occur. Then, reintroducing one at a time will give a good indication of which foods may be causing the problems.
Eating for a strong immune system starts with focusing on whole rather than refined foods. Eating organic foods as much as possible will make a big difference. You really don’t want to be adding the burden of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and feed, antibiotics and growth hormones to your system.
The Good Guys for your Immune System
Whole grains: Brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat (kasha), oats, barley, and other whole grains are a valuable source of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that are an essential part of keeping the immune system healthy. Fiber helps cleanse the colon of toxins and helps prevent intestinal infections. Intact whole grains, not the flour products made from them are what really strengthen the digestive system. Cooked grains make a great breakfast or a substitute for pasta, white rice or white potatoes.
Vegetables: Eat as many vegetables as you can. These are really the immune-boosting heavyweights. They are the best source of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are known to protect the body against many diseases, including cancer. Especially try to have dark leafy greens, such as kale and collard greens. And include as many of the yellow and orange vegetables as possible for beta carotene, an important anti-oxidant. Carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are also great for satisfying the sweet tooth in a healthy way. If you are prone to diarrhea, which is common among those with HIV, avoid raw vegetables (and fruit). Lightly steam or saute them instead.
Fresh fruit: Providing the same benefits as vegetables, fruits can be eaten as snacks, separate from protein for better digestion and best on an empty stomach. Berries are particularly noted for their cancer preventative abilities. Fruit though is very high in sugar, so large quantities should be avoided, especially tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, etc. If you are prone to yeast infections (thrush, candida), avoid fruit juices, since the high concentration of sugar promotes the growth of yeast in the digestive system.
Fermented Foods: As the beneficial microflora grow in fermented foods, they produce enzymes that are extremely helpful for increasing “digestive fire” and improving nutrient absorption of the foods we eat. These enzymes additionally help to digest other foods that are eaten with them. For those of you who tend to eat a lot of cooked or packaged foods void of enzymes, adding them to your diet can greatly enhance nutritional uptake and support the Immune System. Neither vitamins, minerals, or hormones can do any work – without enzymes.
Most all disease originates in the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the colon. When there is an excess accumulation of waste material and toxins in this region, negative implications can impact the rest of the digestive system and eventually will effect vital organ, like the kidneys and liver. This may produce various symptoms like headaches, inflammation in the joints, chronic muscle pain, skin issues and other more serious health conditions.
Protein: Generous amounts of high quality protein are important for maintaining rapid production of cells to support the immune system, preventing loss of lean muscle mass and boosting energy. As much as possible, look for organic meat and poultry, have plenty of fish, especially those high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for building the body’s immune response. These include salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and tuna; flax seeds are another good source of this important nutrient. Dairy products may not be the best protein source since they create digestive problems for many people, such as excess gas, loose stools, mucous and congestion. Yeast infections and thrush also thrive on dairy. Vegetarian sources of protein include soy products such as tofu and tempeh, and beans and legumes, having the added benefit of fiber, which animal foods do not provide.
Other helpful foods include onions, garlic (unless you are having liver problems), ginger, and turmeric (a spice that is a good anti-inflammatory). Mushrooms such as shitake, oyster, and other Asian varieties, are noted for their immune-enhancing abilities. Sea vegetables are rich in minerals such as immune-boosting zinc, as well as calcium. Small quantities of fresh almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are also good sources for zinc and healthy fats.
Water: This is the essential “ground zero” for regulating all of the body’s systems. It eases the job of the kidneys and liver to process and eliminate toxins from the blood. It helps keep mucous membranes moist enough to combat the viruses they encounter. And it is a little known tool for reducing sugar cravings. Sugar cravings are often a sign of dehydration. Try a big glass of water the next time you are craving sugar, then wait a few minutes and see if the need for the sugar is really still there. Water, as well as other beverages, really should not be ice cold. Your body will have to use a lot of energy to warm it up to that 98.6 degrees it tries so hard to maintain. Try to have 6 to 8 glasses of pure water every day.
Supplements: Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and herbs are an important part of making sure your nutritional needs are met. But taking a lot of supplements while maintaining a poor diet will not have the desired effects. If you want to plant a garden, you could just dig a few holes, plant the seeds, and wait for something to happen. Maybe a few things would grow, but the crop would probably not be very bountiful. But add compost and nutrients to the soil, water it properly, and you would reap the rewards. Think of a good diet as your way to amend your soil, then if you add a few supplements, there’s a good environment for growth.
Wash your hands and face often to maintain a healthy immune response. Avoid the anti bacterial soaps.
Find Ways to Relax. Listen to music or take a hot bath to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Scientists hypothesize that your immune system may become weakened after frequent activation of the autonomic nervous system in the case of chronic stresses.
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