In Health: Your immune system
This time of year allergies are booming as the grasses and flowers bloom. We often look for ways to treat the symptoms of allergies, colds and flu. Why not be proactive and do all you can to prevent these common illnesses?
We all know the saying “garbage in … garbage out.” Sometimes we fail to connect our health with what we eat. Sounds obvious. I know. but denial is huge when it comes to giving up our favorite comfort foods. Those foods are laced with sugar, trans-fats and preservatives. All of these are connected to inflammation, which is now linked to many major illnesses. Some obvious “foods” to avoid are sugar, grains and processed foods that contain “bad oils” such as canola, sunflower and safflower.
People frequently ask what the best foods to eat are. Here is a list of foods and a brief reason why should consume them.
Locally grown organic vegetables
When it comes to strengthening your immune system, you simply can’t do any better than eating a variety of fresh, organic and preferably raw vegetables for the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes they contain. Always choose fruits and vegetables that are fresh. The nutrient value drops to practically zero once a fruit or vegetable is canned.
Blueberries and Raspberries
Blueberries and raspberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are potent immune boosters. They contain powerful phytochemicals, such as anthocyanin, which is the pigment that gives blueberries their color. And they are lower in sugar than many other fruits.
Probiotics, or the “live active cultures” found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system.
This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
Tulsi tea, coming from the holy basil herb, has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic medicine of India. Not only is this tea loaded with antioxidants, but it has multiple positive health benefits, including supporting your immune health, memory, heart health and vision.
I am not recommending a 20 ounce porterhouse steak here; 6 ounces of locally raised organic grass-fed is best. Beef is loaded with zinc. Zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiency among American adults, especially for vegetarians and those who’ve cut back on beef. Even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. Zinc in your diet is very important for the development of white blood cells, the intrepid immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria, viruses and assorted other bad guys, according to William Boisvert, Ph.D., an expert in nutrition and immunity at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.
Mushrooms have been a mainstay for hundreds of years in our diets for good reason. Contemporary researchers now know why. “Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection,” said Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, D.C.
One of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir, an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food full of friendly microorganisms that balance your friendly intestinal flora and thereby strengthen immunity.
Besides kefir, other good fermented foods include miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt (watch out for sugar) and olives.
Coconuts and coconut oil
We use coconut oil for everything. It’s a great cooking oil, great on toast and rub it on your skin for a natural moisturizer. It is excellent for your thyroid and your metabolism. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which converts in your body to monolaurin — the actual compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immunity
When selecting coconuts and coconut oil, make sure you choose organic ones that are unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals and are non-GMO.
A great source for information is Mercola.com. I have adapted this article from him and give him full credit for keeping the world abreast of changes in contemporary and natural medicine.