Discover the best foods and lifestyle strategies to IMPROVE your immune system
(NaturalHealth365) Even though Big Pharma does a fantastic job leading us to believe that health can be found in pill bottles, natural means remain the best ways to maintain our health. We are conditioned to think our diet does not matter and that pharmaceuticals are designed to “cure” our lifestyle-inflicted diseases. But our bodies were not designed to be filled with synthetic, harmful drugs and over-processed “foods” laden with sugar, sodium, a cocktail of chemicals, and who knows what else.
So it isn’t that big of a stretch that people’s health and immunity just aren’t what they used to be when the dietary staples were fresh, whole foods, and a more balanced diet. Thankfully, there are foods and other natural ways to strengthen your immune system and enjoy a healthier you.
Not all foods are created equal … especially when it comes to their immune-boosting potential
Although most people know that certain foods can boost your immune system, the key is knowing what those foods are and how they are prepared when you consume them. The fresher and more natural food is, the better it is for you. That is when it is packed with the most nutrients that will work to make your body healthy.
Processed foods can’t stand up to the nutrient power of natural, whole foods. While some processed foods may claim to have specific vitamins and minerals, the chemicals, excess sodium, and sugar they contain cancel it all out.
Load up on THESE foods to improve your immune health
The best foods to eat to improve your health are fresh, whole foods. Here are the VIPs:
- Fruits: Fresh fruit is incredibly nutrient-dense and highly effective at boosting your immune defenses. All fruits have something to contribute to help keep you healthy, so enjoy fruits of all types and colors. Although citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, and limes) are well known for their immune-boosting properties, they are by far not the only ones. Berries are another.
- Vegetables: Vegetables are another food group that has incredible immune strengthening abilities. They also have tons of prebiotics and fiber, which are both essential for good gut health and benefit your immune system. Peppers like chili peppers and red bell peppers are high in vitamin C, but they also contain capsaicin which is very beneficial to the body and overall health. Don’t forget the value of dark greens like, kale, arugula, dandelion, Swiss chard and collard greens.
- Mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms have performed very well in studies examining immune function, antibody production, and white blood cell production. Of course, the top two would be: Chaga and Reishi.
- Fermented Foods: Fermented foods and drinks can be very good for you. The ones that contain beneficial live bacteria can increase immune function, lower inflammation, and boost white blood cell count. Think miso soup and tempeh.
- Seafood: Oily fish like salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help make the immune system stronger. Omega-3 also improves gut health which is closely linked to immune function.
- Immune boosting spices: Garlic, ginger, black or red pepper, cloves, and oregano are excellent for the immune system.
Steam your foods or cook them gently without overcooking them. Overcooking or overprocessing robs foods of their nutrients and makes them much less effective in strengthening the immune system.
Other natural ways to strengthen your immune system
There are other things that you can do to make your immune system work better for you:
- Get enough sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Learn to manage stress
- Smile and laugh
- Help others
- Practice gratitude
- Keep a positive mental attitude
Put these foods on your “foods-to-avoid list” to keep your immune system functioning well
You need to avoid some things if you want a well-functioning immune system. Sugar tops the list. Sugar affects white blood cells, hindering the immune system. It also has a serious negative impact on mechanisms in the body that fight infection. It only takes around 75 grams of sugar for the immune system to weaken, making it less effective in fighting bacteria and viruses.
If you aren’t sure how much 75 grams of sugar is, it’s about nine teaspoons. To put this into context, there are about 40 grams of sugar in a single can of soda and 46 grams of sugar in a cupcake. Even sports drinks are high in sugar, hitting around 35 grams per bottle.
Sodium is another immune buster. In studies, high-salt diets were linked to lower resistance to bacterial infections and increased severity of these infections. Just six grams of salt above the recommended amount of 5 grams per day can lead to significant immune deficiencies.
And finally, avoid negative thinking. Researchers have found that negative thinking is associated with higher levels of inflammation in the body. This can impact immunity. Thinking positive thoughts has its benefits.
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