The ultimate goal of health care is not simply to avoid illness, but to have an abundance of health. If abundant health is a goal of yours, consider how to strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
You can get started on this path today with these Eight Ways To Boost Your Immune System
- Not surprisingly, the list starts with good nutrition — there is nothing more fundamental to health. Did you know that 60% of your immune system resides around the digestive tract? Disease-fighting antibodies are built of protein, so provide your body with the building blocks by consuming lean protein at each meal. Many sources of protein are rich in specific nutrients required by your immune system – for example, the high level of magnesium in almonds and cashews, or the zinc found in seafood and beans – necessary to build white blood cells.
- Incorporate healthy oils into your diet. Healthy fats and oils enhance inter-cellular communication to protect against disease-causing agents. The best oils are unrefined, meaning they were pressed from seeds without using solvents. They taste like the the seeds they came from. Oils suitable for dipping bread into or for making salad dressings include (unrefined) virgin olive oil, unrefined walnut oil, hemp or flax oil, to name a few. All are nutrient-rich and healthful.
Oils should never be heated to the point of smoking as this re-arranges their molecular structure, causing them to become toxic. Olive oil can be used for low-temperature frying of foods, but hemp and flax should not. Coconut oil, contrary to popular belief, is a very healthy oil suitable for cooking.
Inflammation, at the root of many degenerative health conditions, can be triggered by eating unhealthy oils. An oil may become unhealthy when refined, or if rancid, over-heated (as in deep frying foods), hydrogenated, etc. An unhelathy oil may also be a trans-fatty acid, or have the wrong ratio of omegas 3 to 6. A relatively high intake of unhealthy oils is associated with inflammation and problems with the immune system.
- Try to get in five cups of vegetables and fruits daily, especially “ACE” produce – foods that are loaded with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A is found in dark leafy greens and orange veggies (such as carrots and sweet potatoes). It strengthens the white blood cells in their ability to fight infection. C, found primarily in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and broccoli, improves iron absorption and is well-known for fighting disease. Finally, E is packed in seeds and nuts and is particularly effective at fighting colds and influenza.
- Along with what you are eating, limit your intake of alcohol. Most people’s immune systems can handle a single daily drink and some are alright with two, but more than that often suppresses immune function, according to research from Brown University. This research demonstrated alcohol’s toxic effect on the immune system’s dendritic cells which are needed to destroy microbes as they begin to invade.
- See a licensed acupuncture practitioner for a few sessions to balance your body’s qi and make sure there are no blockages. Acupuncture can help pituitary and nerve cells release proteins and hormones which boost immune function. It can also help regulate blood pressure and body temperature, and releases natural endorphins.
- Make sure you get moderate physical activity each day. Overly strenuous exercise drains the body and can decrease circulating white cells. Not enough exercise impairs immunity by reducing the release of hormones that send an “intruder alert” to get the immune system fighting invading pathogens. Aim for about half an hour of brisk walking daily.
- Check your vitamin D level and supplement if needed. Vitamin D is being shown to improve immune response. Since most of our vitamin D is formed as a response to sunlight, low levels of D occur in winter and contribute to catching cold and flus easily when we are inside most of the time. And finally,
- Do what you can to reduce your stress levels. Emerging research links chronic stress with atypical white blood cells – key players in the immune system.
If you would like more ideas on how to boost your immune system, please contact us.
Photo By Volker Brinkmann [CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons