Keeping your immune system strong means less time out sick and more time being able to enjoy life and get the things done that you want to do. Part of making sure your immune system is healthy involves getting enough sleep, exercising, coping with stress and staying socially active. All of these have been shown in studies to help improve your immune system function. There are also certain types of foods and whole food supplements that can help boost your immune system. Here are a few of these and what they have that helps in supporting your immune system.
Foods with Zinc
Most of us do not get enough zinc in our diets and zinc is a crucial mineral for boosting your immune system. Since beef is high in zinc,this is especially true for people that keep a vegetarian diet. Zinc aids in the development of white blood cells that are a part of your immune system that destroy foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. If you are a meat eater, then eating lean beef, pork, oysters and poultry will add zinc to your diet. Vegetarians can get zinc from fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, and miso. Miso, a soybean paste, is an especially good choice because it also has protein and B12 which are immune system boosters. If you really aren’t getting enough zinc through your diet, there are zinc supplements that may be helpful.
Antioxidants are those molecular substances that your body needs to protect your cells from free radical damage, which in turn supports your immune system. To ensure that you get enough antioxidants, focus on eating plenty of bright colored fruits and vegetables. This would include foods like dark leafy greens, oranges and lemons, berries of all kinds, broccoli, red peppers, and papayas.
Elderberry and Goldenseal are often used in herbal tinctures as a support for your immune system and in fighting off colds and flu. Some test tube studies have reported that elderberry may actually block viruses that cause flu, but in light of more research being needed on this aspect, elderberry is high in antioxidants. Acai berries are another rich source of antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins. Watermelon contains the antioxidant glutathione that has been reported to fight infections and strengthen the immune system.
Broccoli not only has glutathione like watermelon, but also vitamin A and C which also help in supporting your immune system. Vitamin A is an antioxidant nutrient that comes from foods with beta-carotene. The body takes beta-carotene from foods and converts it into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the vitamins that helps keep skin healthy and your skin is your body’s first line of defense in the immune system for keeping out bacteria and viruses. Other foods high in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, apricots, blue green algae, carrots, squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe.
Alliums are foods such as leeks, onions and garlic. Foods in this family are known to have natural antibiotic properties to help fight off germs. They have also been found useful in helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and there is research that suggests they can help reduce the growth risk of prostate, stomach and colon cancer cells. Allicin, found in garlic, is released when the garlic is crushed or chopped. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, has been found to improve immunity and to be useful in fighting off colds.
Probiotics are another important aid to your immune system. Acidophilus and bifidus are two of the probiotics found naturally in the intestinal tract. These “good bacteria” aid in the defense against “bad bacteria” and yeast in our intestines. Balanced levels of these beneficial microflora support proper digestion and help eliminate waste. When we do not have enough of these probiotics, more stress is put on your immune system. Many of the foods we eat such as those high in fat and sugar, chlorinated drinking water, environmental toxins, antibiotics and other medications we take can all contribute to killing off these friendly bacteria leaving an imbalance. Eating low-fat yogurt and kefir that have live and active cultures are a way to get more probiotics in your diet. When foods alone are not enough (and they usually aren’t), taking high quality supplements of acidophilus and bifidus with active live cultures can help support the replenishing of these microflora.
Beta Glucan Foods and Mushrooms
Beta glucan is a complex carbohydrate of the simple sugar glucose. It can come from cereals like oats and barley or from yeast, bacteria and fungi. Beta glucans differ in structure according to how the glucose is linked. Yeast beta glucan is linked in such a way that it has been found to enhance and stimulate macrophages, a type of white blood cell that kill off foreign invaders and stimulate other immune cells to fight them off. The beta glucan that comes from baker’s yeast is the most potent anti-infective beta glucan immunododulator. Since the body does not produce beta glucans by itself, we have to get them from the foods we eat or supplements. Baker’s yeast, shiitake mushrooms, barley, oats, rye, and wheat are all sources of beta glucan. Studies have found beta glucan to be effective against bacterial infections and viral infections and even lessen the duration of symptoms of the common cold in people.
Certain types of mushrooms are being found effective in supporting your immune system too because they have polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols, and triterpenoids. These just all happen to be precursors to beta glucans. Mushrooms have been found to be supportive of white blood cells that fight off infections. With their immunosupportive agents, they can help protect you from viruses, bacteria and even yeast. Mushrooms also have the mineral selenium and antioxidants as well as B vitamins riboflavin and niacin which are all helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system. If you are not a big fan of eating mushrooms, you can get the immune supporting power of beta glucan and six of the most extensively researched mushrooms that show positive immune system support together in this one supplement. It combines reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms along with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae to help support your immune system function.
Live your life to the fullest by keeping your immune system strong and working to keep you healthy. These tips can give your immune system the boost it may need to do the best job it can for you.
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