10 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Are there simple ways that you can intentionally build up your immune system to have a healthy winter season? Absolutely! It’s that time of year when the weather changes and with it, often we are more susceptible to colds and flues. There are so many things we can do to be proactive at increasing our health and our immune system. Healthy changes often occur in the small things we do. Our immune system is affected by what we eat nutritionally, and by our physical and emotional states of being. Which of these areas would you like to include, improve, or adopt?
Although there are so many things you can eat to increase your immune system, here are five simple things you can remember to consume: 1) Colourful of Fruits and Veggies; 2) Water; 3) Fatty Fish; 4) Seeds & Nuts; and 5) Dark Chocolate (I guarantee you won’t forget that one!).
1. EAT COLOURFUL FRUITS & VEGGIES – These fruits and veggies are high in micro-nutrients (essential life-giving elements for the body), antioxidants (which help fight off destructive free-radicals), and anti-inflammatory abilities.
Think of the colours of the rainbow:
Red Bell Peppers – are an excellent alternative source of antioxidant vitamin C and are great for those who are trying to avoid the sugar in fruit.
Strawberries - are very rich in antioxidants and micro-nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese, folate and potassium.
Oranges – are loaded with vitamin C, they reduce the duration of common cold symptoms, and improve the immune system.
Yams - are rich in the antioxidant beta carotene, and are also an excellent source of vitamin A which helps to make the skin healthy, even providing protection from ultraviolet rays.
Turmeric – this root vegetable improves a person's immune response and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger – is an incredibly high anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant benefits.
Garlic – is high in fighting toxins and killing parasites in the body. Garlic can wipe out powerful bacteria and infections. Here’s an interesting fact - in both world wars it was used to prevent gangrene.
Spinach – boosts the immune system, and contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants including flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Kiwis – are high in vitamin C and greatly improve the immune system.
Broccoli - contains potent antioxidants such as vitamin C and sulforaphane.
Blue Berries – contains flavonoids and antioxidants which strengthen the immune system, particularly in the respiratory tract. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection or the common cold.
Beets – the vitamin C, manganese, folate, potassium, and betalain in beets are all antioxidants that work together to neutralize free radicals and help your body fight off inflammation.
Purple Cabbage – reduces chronic inflammation and is exceptionally high in vitamins C and K.
2. DRINK WATER - Water carries oxygen to the cells in your body and removes toxins from the body. Drinking more water prevents the build-up of toxins which makes your immune system stronger and cleaner.
3. FATTY FISH - Salmon, tuna, lake trout, sardines, and other oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s attack inflammation and increase the function of immune B cells.
4. SEEDS AND NUTS
Sunflower Seeds are a powerful antioxidant packed with vitamin E that fights off the free radicals which damage our cells.
Almonds are full of vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium which all benefit the immune system.
Dark Chocolate - contains theobromine, an antioxidant that protects the body's cells from free radicals. (Free radicals are damaging to the body's cells and contribute to various diseases).
6. LOVE – Falling in love actually causes physiological changes in the body. Scientists from New Orleans Toulane University analyzed what happens at the molecular level of falling in love. They found that levels of type 1 interferon and neutrophil (protein carriers which strengthen the immune system) rose exponentially when the subject was experiencing feelings of love.
7. POSITIVE EMOTIONS AND OUTLOOK – Your immune system is negatively affected by grief, depression, stress, repressed feelings, or a loss of a sense of self. Notice when you get a cold or sore throat frequently. More often than not, you are also dealing with emotional issues. If you are going through a particularly stressful time in life, practice viewing whatever you are going through in a positive light. Find ways of how your circumstances are actually serving you. When you choose a positive outlook in dire times, you will strengthen your health.
8. ADEQUATE SLEEP – Sleep assists your immune system by building up T-cells which fight off infections, viruses, and cancers. Having less than seven hours of sleep each night will increase your stress hormones and release adrenaline. Immune friendly T-cells cannot actively develop in the presence of adrenaline and stress. Sleeping dynamically builds up your T-cells which strengthen your immune system.
NEWS FLASH! Less than five hours sleep per night on a regular basis is associated with higher mortality, and having less than seven hours sleep for three nights in a row has the same effect on the body as missing one full night of sleep.
9. EXERCISE REGULARLY – Exercise improves the immune system by promoting good circulation and helps cells to move through the body to do their job more efficiently. Exercise lowers blood pressure, helps you to keep a lower body weight, and improves cardiovascular health. All of which protect against various diseases.
10. PHYSICAL TOUCH - Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, is activated through physical touch, hugs, cuddling, massage, or even petting a cat. Oxytocin activates a sense of well-being and happiness, it inspires positive thinking and helps you maintain an optimistic outlook on the world which in turn strengthens your immunity. Physical touch also increases dopamine and serotonin levels that help regulate your moods, relieve the body of stress and anxiety, and lower your heart rates and blood pressure.
Take care of your nutritional, physical and emotional states of being and enjoy the benefits of a healthy immune system!