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It is well known that your immune system serves to protect your body from germs and viruses. But effective as it naturally is, it is only a system, not an entity and it has its flaws. That’s why healthy people get sick when their immune system weakens.
Here’s what you can do to improve your immunity.
The immune system can be improved by healthy living habits, proper diet and natural immunity boosters.
Healthy living strategies to adopt:
- Don’t smoke
- Take care of your blood pressure
- Eat a lot of vegetables and whole grains
- Avoid infection-wash hands and sanitize
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink moderately
What does the research say?
A lot of pills are being advertised as immune boosters, and they probably are, but as the immune system is a system made of so many different cells that respond to different microbes differently. There is no guarantee that you will be 100% protected.
Many scientists are conducting researches to explore various ways of boosting the immune system: nutrition, herbal supplements, exercise, lack of stress, etc.
Here’s what has been established so far:
Can diet help?
The immune system needs a proper diet to function, and the most significant proof to that is the number of malnourished people that live in poverty and are vulnerable to diseases. Although there are very few studies that tie the effects of nutrition directly to the development of the disease.
Vitamin and mineral deficiency
Selenium – Low selenium levels are tied to cancer (colon, bladder, breast, lung, etc.).
Vitamin A- vitamin A is considered vital in our nutrition as it is said to influence certain subcategories of T and B cells and cytokines.
Vitamin B2- There is evidence that vitamin B can help you resist bacterial infection
Vitamin B6- Certain researches have shown that the deficiency of this vitamin can slow down the immune response and thus make you more vulnerable to viruses. Using this vitamin as prevention has proven useful, but you must be moderate, as when taken in high doses, it may help an already existing tumor to grow.
Vitamin C- Vitamin C is well known for its immune-boosting abilities, but the studies that verify this fact show that it is useless to take Vitamin C alone, as it is more effective when taken with other vitamins.
Vitamin D- Researches have shown that people with tuberculosis respond well when exposed to direct sunlight, but does it help your organism fight another disease is not proven yet.
Zinc– Is essential to your immune system as it feeds the cells and allows them to function properly. While it is important to have enough zinc in your daily diet (15-25 mg per day) intaking too much zinc can actually inhibit your immune system.
So what can you do if you suspect that your diet is not rich in vitamins and minerals? You may decide to take them as a supplement, but if you do so, focus on the whole specter, do not just take one vitamin such as vitamin c, often prescribed as an immune booster. It’s not as effective.
Herbs and other supplements
As soon as winter comes, your local store becomes filled with products, pills and herbal preparations that help you boost your immune system. These products may work, or they may not, as everyone’s immune system is different. Do not be skeptical, as there is evidence, conducted from a great number of cases, that there are natural remedies that will help you boost your immunity.
Echinacea- There has been a lot of talk about Echinacea being the powerful immune booster, mostly based on Echinacea’s ability to fight colds. Although it is considered helpful, you must take into account that it has severe side effects with people with ragweed allergies.
Garlic- Garlic has many infection-fighting capabilities against viruses, fungi and bacteria. You can read more about garlic here.
Ginseng- Ginseng is said to be efficient as an immune system booster, but the process is unknown. Most of its praise comes from Asians, as they have been using it for over 5000 years.
Licorice Root– Licorice as a plant has been praised in Chinese medicine and it is used to treat various diseases. As licorice root was never solely tested, its immune system boosting abilities have never been proven in the lab.
Probiotics– Your body is filled with different species of bacteria that will help you digest food. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are proven especially useful. The connection between probiotics and your immune system has not been made yet, which does not mean that it does not exist. Your overall health strengthens your immune system and this is where probiotics come in handy.
The stress connection
It is well known that emotional stress may cause illnesses such as heart disease, hives and upset stomach, but immunologists were not particularly interested in this subject. Firstly, stress is difficult to categorize, as things that are stressful to one may not be as stressful to another.
The current studies that are being conducted are trying to find a connection between constant stress (chronic stress) often caused by family, work, etc. and the immune system.
The question here is: Does the immune system weaken if it is constantly attacked by stress? The result is YES. And it is even more so evident when it comes to emotional stress, almost twice as likely to get sick when exposed to a bacterial toxin.
Thinking about this, one may remember the best advice to fight cold, which is as follows: Make yourself a cup of a nice, hot, chamomile tea with lemon and honey, dress up warm, cuddle in a chair, and relax with a book.
Our advice to that would be to grate some Ginseng in a cup of probiotic yogurt, make sure you take in enough of Zinc and vitamin C and you’ll be fine.
Read about the best protection against cold here.
Do you have some natural recipes that help you fight cold?
Image credit:123RF Stock Photo
Last article update: 10/21/2019