Our immune system is the complex network of tissues, cells and proteins that helps protect us from infection agents or ‘pathogens’. It requires balance to function harmoniously.
Rather than being a discrete set of organs, the immune system involves various kinds of cells distributed across different sites in the body. Immune cells can move between these sites in our bloodstream and lymphatic system.
Here are some things that you can do boost immunity naturally.
Choose Protein-Rich Foods:
A healthy diet rich in proteins, ensures that your bone marrow (where white blood cells are produced) gets adequate nutrients. Lean meats, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs and milk are a good source of protein.
Garlic is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and immune booster. Because heat deactivates the key active ingredient-allicin, add it to foods just before serving.
Eat Good Fats:
Avoid saturated fats as they increase the risk of heart disease. Eat unsaturated fats that aid absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in the body. Butter, avocado and nuts are a good source.
Studies have shown that mushrooms increase production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi mushrooms are a good source.
Don’t consume excessive carbohydrates:
Appropriate amounts of grain will give energy to the body to produce white blood cells. However, consuming excessive amounts of these foods will result in lower levels of T-lymphocytes (and thus lead to lower immune response).
Eat Selenium-Rich Foods:
Selenium is found plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams and helps white blood cells produce cytokines (proteins that help clear flu viruses).
Choose Anti-Oxidant Dense Foods:
Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients help repair damaged cells in the body. Examples of antioxidants are Beta Carotene, Vitamins C and E, Zinc, and Selenium. These nutrients can be found in certain fruits or vegetables, or can be taken with a supplement.
Eat Zinc Rich Foods:
Zinc is one of the most important components of enzymes present in white blood cells, and a deficiency of this mineral can result in a weaker immune system. Oysters, red meat, nuts, seafood are a good source of zinc.
Probiotics or live active cultures found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Although they’re available in supplement form, a study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7-ounce dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping pills.
Adequate Amount of Copper:
You only need a very small amount of copper to be healthy. It plays a very important role in metabolic and immune function by neutralizing free radicals and possibly even reducing some of their harmful effects.
You can get copper from organ meats, leafy green vegetables, and cereals.
Eat Vitamin C Rich Foods:
Vitamin C increases white blood cell count and enhances the cells’ effectiveness. It is also an antioxidant, preventing destruction of existing white blood cells. In addition to supplements, you can get vitamin C from lemons, limes, berries, broccoli, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cauliflower.
Short 10 min walks, few times a day will improve your cardiovascular health, and greatly reduce the likelihood of certain chronic diseases. Exercise helps get antibodies and white blood cells moving through the body faster, so they may detect illnesses sooner; plus, an increase in circulation may also trigger the release of hormones that warn immune cells of intruding pathogens.
Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and damages the immune system. Nicotine binds to hemoglobin in blood in preference to oxygen, reducing its capacity to deliver oxygen to each cell of the body. It also exposes the body to carcinogenic chemicals and tar, which results in an increase in infections by putting your immune system into overdrive.
When alcohol is metabolized in the body, it results in the formation of harmful chemicals, which can destroy white blood cells. Alcohol also decreases the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, adversely affecting white blood cell count.
Keep stress at bay:
Stress has physical repercussions, and chronic stress can negatively affect your immune system by decreasing the function of your immune system.