Do you know that your body is equipped with an incredible defense mechanism known as your immune system? It fights back against viruses, bacteria, chemical pollutants, and free radicals in the environment. It heals wounds, infections, and bruises. It even has the ability to draw antidotes to some diseases that happened as far back as childhood.
How the immune system functions is a hard thing to explain to patients. It’s not just an organ that battles illness and infection but rather an interaction of many organs and structures within your body. This remarkable infrastructure is responsible for recognizing things that belong and don’t belong in your body then fights the ones that are foreign.
Even though your body has a natural defense against illness and infection it can become weakened by a number of factors. As you age, your body’s resistance to disease slowly begins to falter. You may also sabotage your immune system by smoking, drinking, eating an unhealthy diet and becoming sedentary. In other words, you are sometimes your own worst enemy when it comes to staying healthy.
When your immune system weakens you are vulnerable to every type of illness that affects humans. It is not uncommon for people to get two colds in any given year but if you are suffering with more than that it could be due to an immune deficiency. Other common signs of low immune functions include fatigue, repeated infections, allergic reactions, and chronic diarrhea.
When my patients ask me what they can do to prevent the common cold they are surprised to learn that everyday foods contain ingredients that can power up a low immune system. Almost everyone has simple vegetables, herbs, and foods in their own kitchen that hold the answer to natural healing. My recommendation is to use these foods on a regular basis to improve stamina, endurance and overall health.
Natural Food Remedies Boost Immunity
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, and cauliflower – These veggies are packed with vitamins, selenium, bioflavenoids, and carotenoids, which help to fight disease. When broccoli is used along with tomatoes it is said to prevent and suppress the growth of cancer cells. Recommended -Two servings per day
Carrots – Besides being famous for helping your eyesight, carrots contain essential vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, and beta-carotene. All of these natural ingredients help your vitality.
Fruit – Everyday fruit such as apples, oranges, grapes, bananas and pears are especially important for getting vital vitamins, minerals and compounds into our diets.
Garlic – Studies crown this food the number one cancer fighter because it contains antiviral and antibacterial properties. It has been known to reduce bronchial infections and help calm a sore throat. Garlic stimulates the immune cell CD4 to proliferate and enhance its activity. Recommended – At least one clove a day, raw or cooked
Honey – Not only does this food taste good, it is loaded with antibacterial power. A common cold fighting concoction is a mix of honey, lemon and ginger in hot water.
Onion – Rich in the natural antibictic, Alicin this veggie is known to maintain cardiovascular function.
Yoghurt – Billions of bacteria are lurking in your body, especially in your digestive system. Overuse of antibiotics can kill bad bacteria but it also kills what is known as good bacteria. Adding regular doses of probiotic yoghurt helps to replenish your good bacteria.
Shiitake Mushrooms – This particular type of mushroom is known to destroy cancer cells and kill ringworm. Active ingredients include a polysaccharide that stimulates immune cells and sulfides to attack fungi. Recommended – Six mushrooms per week
Benefits of Power Foods Backed by Research
The idea of eating the right foods, including herbs and supplements has long been the subject of much research. Of course there are other factors that enter into helping your immune system function at its best. According to immunologist Elinor Levy, PhD, in her book, “Ten Best Tools to Boost Your Immune System”, (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), she advises a healthy lifestyle based on exercise, reducing the effects of stress, along with eating the right foods.
• Skip sugar – Sugar is an enemy of your white blood cells and may keep them from doing their best job.
• Skip polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, and sunflower oil.
• Lose some weight – one study found that white blood cells in overweight people had a harder time fighting off infection.
• Stop stressing – Chronic stress impairs your immune system by affecting your thymus gland creating problems in your body’s ability to fight off infection.
• Exercise – Activity is a proven immune booster as long as it is in moderation. Overdoing it can be problematic.
• Take vitamins – Vitamin C is a natural immune booster so take it regularly alone or as part or a multi-vitamin.
Bruce Ames, cancer researcher found that people doubled their chances of developing cancer when they failed to eat five daily servings of antioxidant-rich plant foods. Foods containing indoles such as broccoli and kale may prevent tumors in the breast from forming.
Other studies supporting the inclusion of power foods in your diet to safeguard disease are equally as impressive. The substance in soybean products known as genestein is purported to starve tumors by blocking the flow of the blood to the source as reported by the National Academy of Sciences.
A study conducted by the American Health Foundation reported that Hispanic women had an exceptionally low rate of breast cancer due to beans as a mainstay in their diet.
The addition of pumpkin seeds, which are rich in zinc levels, was found to increase immune cells according to a study in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Zinc deficiencies are associated with vaginal yeast infections and prostate disease.
Give your immune system the help it needs to safeguard your body against illness and disease. Do yourself a favor. Check out all the power foods you have in your refrigerator or pantry. Make it a point to include them in your diet to reap all the benefits they offer. Don’t forget to follow other healthy lifestyle tips to keep you well this season and all through the years to come.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News