Our immune systems are being challenged more than ever. The modern lifestyle is, let’s just say, not very healthy. We have some of the poorest eating habits on the planet, we’re stressed out, and our environmental pollution is growing on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more allergies, recurrent colds and flus, Chronic Fatigue, environmental sensitivity, etc. Be it under-active or overactive, immune system dysfunction is on the rise.
There are many ways to enhance the immune system:
1. Eating a well balanced diet is critical for a properly functioning immune system.
2. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has many of the phytonutrient critical to enhance immunity as well as many of the important vitamins and minerals. A steady and balanced intake of essential vitamins and mineral helps to keep our immune systems working properly by providing us protection from infections and disease. Fish, poultry, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, cereals and legumes (peas, lentils, beans) are all good sources of minerals. Foods such as cheese, eggs or liver, which supply vitamin A, and spinach, sweet potatoes or carrots, which are good sources of beta carotene, should also be eaten daily.
EAT PLENTY OF
- Protein-rich foods
- Citrus fruits for vitamin C
- Vegetable oils for vitamin E
- Spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots which supply beta carotene
CUT DOWN ON
- Animal fats, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and
- Highly processed carbohydrates.
3. Plenty of rest– Body needs rest from the stress and strain of daily life to get recharged. We depend on adequate restful sleep to restore our bodies and refresh our minds. During deep sleep, our bodies release potent immune-enhancing substances that strengthen immune function. It is especially important to get additional rest when we are ill. Women generally tend to ignore this aspect of good health due to heavy demands placed upon them both at place of work and at home. The result becomes obvious through signs of extreme exhaustion, irritability, panic and tantrums.
4. Exercise program– A regular exercise program of low-to-high intensity workout for 25-30 most days of the week is recommended to build a strong immune system. We all know how invigorated and strong we feel when we’re in shape. Overall fitness creates reserve capacity that not only serves as a buffer against disease but also helps us recover more quickly.
5. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. Body fluids, made up mostly of water, bring to each system all the ingredients and carry away the body’s waste in form of urine. Water is also necessary for many chemical reactions in the body. It can act as a lubricant around joints and protect sensitive tissues and organs, including the spinal cord, eyes, and the amniotic sac in pregnancy from shock. It is absolutely essential to stay well hydrated throughout the day. ()
6. Increase your vitamin C intake to 1000-2000 mg/d (this may reduce your histamine levels): a moderately large amounts of this vitamin (up to 200mg daily) increase levels of immunoglobulin – blood proteins that ac as disease fighting antibodies – which are produced by the immune system. Vitamin D (obtained from oily fish) and vitamin E (in olive oil, nuts, avocados and wholegrain cereals are also vital to the immune system’s effectiveness, as are essential fatty acids found in vegetable oils and fish oils.
7. One of the most common nutrient deficiencies which affects the immune system is a lack of zinc. Pumpkin seeds and lean beef are both a rich source of zinc, while oysters are an excellent source. A recent study among elderly people showed that a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement improved their immune responses. Be sure that you are taking magnesium (400 mg/day). Magnesium is involved in transmission of nerve impulses within the body. Food sources are legumes, grains, dark green vegetables, and nuts.
8. Avoid excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine which might interfere in the normal functioning of various body processes.
9. Protect yourself from ingestion or inhalation of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury; and tobacco smoke or other forms of pollution in the air. When pollutants or toxic substances are absorbed by the body, they threaten the effectiveness of the minerals and vitamins in food, and are sometimes described as ant nutrients. Clearing the body of these environmental toxins increases our requirement for antioxidants and various other nutrients. Because of these exposures, our nutritional requirements may be increased to higher levels than we can obtain in our diet, making it important to use nutritional supplements to remain healthy. And because of the prevalence of these exposures, it’s also important to build into our lifestyle.
A committee of the World Health Organization reported that up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings emit air pollutants such as formaldehyde, asbestos, volatile chemicals, and other toxins and allergens. The effects of these emissions can cause “sick-building syndrome.”
10. The stress factor. There is a strong data that documents the impact of stress on immunity and susceptibility to illness. A report of 276 volunteers exposed to a common cold virus showed that those who had been under stress for more than a month were most likely to get sick. In another study, children with a history of stress and recurrent colds were found to have lower localized immunity. Stress has also been found to stimulate immune-suppressing chemicals such as adrenaline. Fortunately, research has found that stress reducers such as meditation, relaxation, guided imagery, and hypnosis can effectively enhance immunity.