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Natural ways to boost immunity

spiking blood sugar and stressing the pancreas and the immune system, therefore it’s important to get enough protein in your diet.

Avoid sugar in your diet…

You will see noticeable results in your energy levels, weight distribution, immunity and your ability to think clearly when you break the cravings and stop eating refined sugar. This is so important, many holistic nutritionists consider sugar a drug for its impact on the human body and some practitioners are known to prioritize eliminating sugar from the diet over recommending that people quit smoking.

Drink plenty of water…..

Headaches and thirst are both signs of dehydration but more importantly drinking sufficient water will help the body flush out certain harmful toxins.

Get plenty of sleep and rest…

Quite simply this is the time when your body rejuvenates and recovers the most, since studies show your body produces more growth hormone during this time and replenishes critical neurotransmitters like dopamine and adrenalin which are integral to motivation and focus. Ideally you want to be getting between eight and ten hours a night.

Stock up on raw fruits and vegetables…

The nutritional content that you receive from raw fruits and veggies is unparalleled, they are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and enzymes. Many vitamins, including C, are antioxidants and will protect cells – including those of your immune system – from damage by toxins in the environment. Dark-coloured produce (berries, kale, broccoli) tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants. The perfect source of minerals is seaweed, which is sold dried, but can often be found raw (dried at low temperatures to maintain most of the enzymes and nutrients) in health food stores.

Breathe….

Essential to the body’s health and wellbeing is the lymph system. Essentially it’s the body’s sewage system and is responsible for getting rid of all the dead cells and blood proteins in the body. Whilst it continually works without any conscious effort, it can be stimulated through deep, heavy breathing, whether through exercise, yoga or simply consciously breathing deeply when sitting at your desk.

Vitamin D….

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in certain foods and also functions within the body in response to the skin’s exposure to sun (specifically ultraviolet-B rays). Recent research has shown Vitamin D to be a powerful immune stimulant and has been suggested to be a much more powerful tool in combating illnesses and viruses than Vitamin C. People consuming sufficient Vitamin D have also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

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Strengthen your immune system naturally

Raw garlic in the diet is very beneficial, however cooking garlic can destroy some of its health-promoting compounds. One way to get around this problem is to take Kyolic aged garlic extract. The natural ageing process increases antioxidant levels and enhances garlic’s immune boosting powers. It also has the added benefit of being odourless.

Vitamin C is an extremely important nutrient for boosting immunity. Include plenty of foods high in vitamin C in the diet, including fresh fruits and vegies, especially citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage and parsley. A vitamin C supplement is also recommended to ward off colds and flu, take around 2-3 g a day.

Zinc is another important mineral needed for healthy immune function. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, dairy foods, eggs, legumes and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Taking a zinc supplement is also beneficial, around 45mg a day.

Spirulina is a type of sea algae that is considered a superfood due to its extraordinary health-promoting elements. Spirulina can stimulate immune function; it’s anti-cancerous and rich in nutrients such as iron and selenium which act as powerful antioxidants in the body. Spirulina can be taken in capsule or tablet form (around 5g day, or add a teaspoon of powder to smoothies or juice).

More great immune-boosting foods that should be included in the diet include miso, ginger, garlic, onion, yoghurt, green tea and seaweed.

There are some key herbs that naturopaths and herbalists commonly use to strengthen the immune system and offer protection against colds and flu, including astragalus, andrographis, Echinacea and olive leaf.

A good healthy diet is fundamental to good health and a strong immune system. A majority of your diet should be made up of unprocessed, natural foods such as fresh fruits, vegies, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.

Having a well-balanced diet will supply you with all the essential nutrients your body needs for a healthy immune system such as zinc, vitamin A and C, selenium and iron.

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How to Keep Your Immune System Healthy

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Keep up with your vaccinations. Almost everyone who’s at least 6 months old should get a flu vaccine every year.
  • Keep your weight healthy. 
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.

Get the Nutrients You Need

Food is your best source. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and split the other half between lean protein and grains.

Not sure if you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals? Ask your doctor or a nutritionist about that. 

Don’t overdo supplements. Taking too much can be bad for you. Your doctor can let you know what you need.

Manage Your Stress

Everyone gets stressed. Short bursts of stress may help your immune system. But lasting stress is a problem. It can hamper your immune system.

You can take action to tame stress. Make these steps part of your stress management plan:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Learn and use relaxation techniques.
  • Evercise
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Build your support network of people you can talk to.
  • Consider counselling, especially when you’re going through a very stressful time.
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Myths and Facts About Your Immune System

 

What works and what doesn’t? How can you keep your immune system in top shape? Let’s separate myth from fact.

Fact: Lasting stress is bad for you.

Ongoing stress, such as being in a difficult relationship, living with a chronic disease, or being a caregiver can take its toll on your immune system. Over time, it can make you more vulnerable to illnesses, from colds and flu to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Chronic stress seems to age the immune system, studies show, making you more likely to get a cold or the flu, chronic diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease.

Everyone goes through stress. What matters is how you handle it. Getting better at managing stress can help. Even something as simple as deep breathing can lessen the effects of stress. Or try other relaxation techniques, such as:

  • Meditation
  • yoga
  • Other types of exercise

Counselling can make a big difference, too.  

Myth: Getting a flu shot weakens your immune system and makes you more likely to get the flu.

Totally untrue. Getting a flu vaccine prepares your immune system for the flu.

A flu vaccine teaches your immune system to recognize that virus as a threat. While some people may still get the flu after having a flu shot, they’ll probably have a milder form of the illness — and it’s not because they got the vaccine. A milder form of the flu is still possible despite getting vaccinated because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can still provide some protection.

So why do people swear a flu vaccine gave them the flu? Some may mistake the occasional side effects of the vaccine (fever, aches) for flu symptoms. And the time of year people are most likely to get the vaccine is when colds and other respiratory illnesses are common. If you get the vaccine and then get sick with an unrelated bug, you may assume, incorrectly, that the vaccine caused the illness.

Fact: What you eat has an effect on your immune system.

While no single food will upgrade your immune system, poor nutrition can have a negative effect on the immune system. What counts is having a balanced diet.

Just about everyone could stand to eat more fruits and vegetables. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals that are good for you. If you’re thinking about getting supplements to cover your nutritional needs, check with your doctor or a dietician. Chances are, you’re getting what you need from food, unless you’re on a strict diet, are pregnant, or have certain medical conditions.

Fact: Your immune system probably gets weaker as you grow older.

As you age, your body has a harder time fighting off infections. Older adults are more likely to get sick from infections. And those infections, especially flu and pneumonia, are more likely to be fatal, compared with younger people.

Why it happens isn’t clear. It may be about your immune system slowing down. Or it could be partly linked to nutrition, since seniors often eat less and don’t always get the nutrients they need to keep their immune systems strong. So eat lots of fruits and vegetables. It’s good for you at any age.

Myth: Running a fever when you’re sick weakens your immune system.

A fever can help your immune system fight infections in two ways. A higher temperature in the body speeds up the functioning of cells, including the ones that fight illness. They can respond to invading germs faster.

If you’ve had a fever for more than several days, or if you have fever and other symptoms such as severe vomiting, diarrhoea or confusion, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.

Always call a doctor for unexplained fever in infants and children, and in people with a suppressed immune system (such as those with HIV, organ transplants, or certain medications or chemotherapy).

Fact: Seasonal Allergies are caused by an abnormal response by the immune system.

Allergy symptoms happen when your immune system reacts to something harmless, like pollen, pet dander, or mould. Your body sees the allergen as an invader and attacks it, giving you a runny nose and itchy eyes.

People can inherit a tendency toward allergies; if you have allergies, your children have a greater chance of also having allergies, although they may be allergic to different things.

Allergies are treated by avoiding your allergy triggers and taking medication to control symptoms. For some people, allergy shots may be an option. Over a period of time, usually several years, allergy shots may help your immune system get used to the allergen, so that it doesn’t produce the bothersome allergy symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference

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The Germiest Places in Your Community

we’re mostly talking about viruses like the flu and the common cold — is other people,” says E. Neil Schachter, MD, author ofThe Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu.

These five places are the germiest you’re likely to visit, Schachter says.

    1.Public restrooms.Bacteria and viruses thrive in a moist place. So sinks, soap dispensers, and toilet seats can host germs.

    2.Your child’s school or day care.In a school or day care, lots of kids are together. There will be lots of opportunities for germs to spread.

    3.Public transportation.“The closer you are packed together with other people, the more likely you are to spread germs to one another,” Schachter says. So subways, buses, trains, and airplanes are likely spots to pick up germs.

    4.Your doctor’s office.Some people in the waiting room may have a cold or the flu. Some pediatricians’ offices have separate waiting rooms for “well” and “not so well” kids. But others don’t, and you rarely see separate waiting rooms in         doctors’ offices for adults.

    5.Other public places.“Places like malls, food courts, museums, sporting events, and concerts — anywhere big crowds of people gather — are prime sources of germs, particularly if the space is limited and there are lots of people pushed         together,” Schachter says.

Of course, you should still be out and about, living your life. You can take steps to keep germs at bay, wherever you go.

5 Ways to Defend Yourself

1.Wash your hands often.Use soap and warm water. It can dislodge germs and send them down the drain.

2.Carry hand sanitizer.It’s handy if you can’t wash your hands, especially if you’re touching surfaces that other people use, like ATM keyboards, elevator buttons, and door handles.

3.Let something else do the touching.If you’re in a germy place, like a doctor’s office building or your child’s day care, press elevator buttons with your elbow, and use a paper towel to open bathroom doors and flush toilets. Only use banisters or escalator handrails if you need to for balance.  Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, so that germs on your hands don’t enter your body.   

4.Wipe down shared surfaces.Use your hand sanitizer or a package of sanitizing wipes to clean off spots such as food court tables (they’re often just wiped down with a rag that only spreads germs around) or the desk or phones in shared office spaces.

5.Leave the germs outside.When you come home, take off your shoes and wash your hands. That’s a family rule for Bridget Boyd, MD, director of the newborn nursery at Chicago’s Loyola University Health Center. “My husband and I are both in the health care field, and my son goes to day care, so who knows what’s on our shoes?” she says. “But it makes sense for anyone. It’s a good idea to wash off germs and dirt when you come home.”

WebMD Feature

Reviewed ByArefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH