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Ways to Boost Your Immune System

You may not be aware of it, but every day thereís a battle raging inside your body as it is under constant attack from dangerous free radicals and foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. What keeps ill health at bay is a strong immune system.

Your immune system consists of various antibodies, each with a special protective role. These are dependent on good nutrition and a supportive lifestyle. However, if your immune system becomes overworked or is not nourished properly, it gives up the fight and surrenders to the bad guys. Once this happens, not only will you be ill frequently, but you will also take a long time to recover from whatever has made you ill.

A healthy immune system is a by-product of a healthy lifestyle — regular sleep, a healthy diet, no smoking, exercise on a regular basis and good stress-busting mechanisms all contribute to your health.

However, nutrition plays a particularly important part in maintaining immune function, and insufficiency in one or more essential nutrients may prevent the immune system from functioning at its peak.

Given the complexity of the immune system, there isnít one type of food that will magically make you repel cold germs and flu viruses. And while there are specific supplements that can be taken in order to boost your immune system, nothing can beat the collective result of the healthy choices you make.

What can you do to give your immune system that extra boost? Here are a few suggestions:

Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables:

You should stock up on raw fruits and vegetables for their antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes. The nutritional content you receive from raw fruits and veggies is unparalleled, and the vitamins and phytochemicals that lend fruits and vegetables their color serve as antioxidants that promote immune function.

Dark colored produce such as berries, kale and broccoli tend to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants, while any other orange vegetables, like sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and pumpkin, are a great way to add vitamin A to your diet. These are great sources of beta-carotene, which the body quickly turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A, in turn, is important for the skin, which serves as the first line of defense for your immune system.

Eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. To maximize the variety of vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, aim to consume two different colors of vegetables and fruits with each meal.

Keep it lean:

The amino acids that are found in protein form the building blocks of a bodyís cells — including the cells that power your immune system. If you donít consume enough protein, youíll manufacture fewer white blood cells to combat antigens. Choose lean protein such as fish, seafood, poultry (without the skin), eggs, lentils, beans and soy products.

Very lean beef is an important source of zinc, which helps develop white blood cells, the cells we need to fight of foreign bacteria and viruses. Zinc deficiency can greatly increase your risk of infection. Vegetarians and those who do not eat red meat can look for their zinc supply in poultry, pork, fortified cereals, yogurt and milk. If you like oysters, they are also a fantastic source of zinc.

Make time for tea:

Black and green tea is a great source of polyphenols, which clean up free radicals, the damaging compounds that can hurt your DNA and accelerate aging. Antioxidants take care of the free radicals, and tea has more antioxidants per part than fruits and vegetables.

Green tea, especially, is a rich source of antioxidants, and should be consumed in place of sugary beverages with little nutritional benefit. It also seems to have anti-inflammatory effects. Trade at least one cup of coffee each day for green tea and, to derive the optimal benefit, let the bag steep for at least three minutes.

Supplement it:

A multivitamin is well worth taking. If you have even a marginal deficiency of certain nutrients — particularly the B vitamins, A, C, E, selenium, iron and zinc — your immune systemís function could be impaired. Be sure to choose a multivitamin specifically formulated for your gender or age.

Try an alternative:

Hundreds of herbal supplements exist to give the immune system additional support during winter. Essential oils can be particularly excellent source of immune-stimulating compounds. Fresh herbs and whole food remedies are always preferable over packaged herbs or supplements, since they have a much higher potency and frequency and your body absorbs more of their value.

Drink plenty of water:

This is almost, but not quite, a given: most headaches occur because despite the number of reminders, people still aren't getting enough water. Headaches and thirst are both signs of dehydration. You should be drinking, in daily ounces, half your body weight in pounds, i.e. body weight in pounds, divided by 2 = number of ounces of water per day.

Get enough sleep:

Whatever amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning, whether thatís 6 hours or 10 — make sure you get it! Insufficient sleep depresses the immune system, opening the door to colds, upper-respiratory infections, and other nagging ills.

Nurture yourself:

Make sure you take time to yourself. Spend some time with friends, and indulge yourself in a massage, a hot bath, or an energy work session when you want one. Our bodies respond to our emotions. If youíre feeling harassed and anxious, it can manifest in a sore throat or a cold. Create a space within yourself and your living environment for harmony, self-love and joy.

Author: Dimi Ingle.
Copyright 2009: Remedium. This article may not be copied, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Remedium.

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