Immune Boosting Tips
During the season of colds and flu, the weather outside is cold and miserable. Inside looks very appealing as the warmth of blankets and heaters beckons us to join them. Everyone has the same idea and as we share germs with family and friends, is there anything we can do to avoid getting sick?
Keeping the body's immune system active and at maximum efficiency is one of the keys to good health. The immune system protects the body and enables it to fight off infectious agents and rid itself of abnormal and worn out cells.1 In part, the immune system works by inducing chemical changes that alter body processes in order to guard and defend itself against foreign bodies.2
A fully working and maintained immune system will mean fewer illnesses, better protection from cancer, slower aging, reduced stress, increased energy, quicker recovery and of course protection from those dreaded colds and flu.2
Diet and exercise play a major role in boosting the immune system. Stress is also an immune system depressant and time should be taken each day to relax and meditate.
Regular, but moderate exercise is vital in boosting the immune function as this will increasing blood-flow and consequently accelerating the movement of immune cells around the body. This, in turn, will increase the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the ‘feel good’ hormones and create an all round feeling of well-being.
It is important to have the correct balance of an intake of nutrients to exercise. In other words, a well-balanced diet sufficient to meet their energy requirements. Remember not to overdo exercise as this will have the opposite effect on the immune system.
Inadequate nutrition and an excess intake of fat is associated with immune dysfunction.2 An adequate intake of iron (lean meat, liver, green leafy veges, whole grains, dried fruits, legumes, molasses, egg yolks, salmon); zinc (pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, soybeans, meats, turkey, seafood, wheat germ); Vitamin A (liver, eggs, carrot, sweet potato, spinach, apricot, butter); Vitamin E (almonds, avocado, olive oil, hazelnuts); Vitamin B6 (potato [with skin], banana, salmon, hazelnuts, chicken) and Vitamin B12 (salmon, eggs, chicken, beef, mussels, crab, turkey) are particularly important for the maintenance of immune function.
Fruits and vegetables form an important part of a well balanced, immune system boosting, diet. These contain Vitamin C and beta carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), both of which increase the potency of white blood cells and act as antioxidants. Citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, dark leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, red and orange capsicums are all good sources of Vitamin C and/or beta carotene.
Your diet should be well balanced and avoid all saturated fats and polyunsaturates as much as possible, with the exception of some fish oils such as tuna, mackerel, salmon etc whose omega 3 fatty oils oil can actually improve immune activity. Garlic and onion are two very important foods as they act as antimicrobials.
2. Cataldo, C.B; Rolfes, S.R; Whitney, E.N: Understanding normal and clinical nutrition. 2002 Wadworth Group.
Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be used as medical advice. Do not use the information as a substitute for medical care.
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