The immune system protects the body by helping it to ward-off and recover from various diseases. While stress reduction and regular exercise are known to assist in strengthening the immune system, the types of food consumed make the largest contribution to a healthy immune system. Eating a well-balanced diet including a variety of healthful foods will boost this system's effectiveness like nothing else.
The chief destructive force that the immune system has to contend with is free radicals. Free radicals damage healthy cells by causing cell alterations (mutations) which can lead to serious illnesses such as Heart disease and Cancer. However, certain substances present in food can destroy free radicals. These substances are called antioxidants.
Causes of Low Immunity
Emotional state, stress, lifestyle, dietary habits and nutritional intake can impact the immune system. Low immunity can be caused by a number of conditions, surgical or medical treatments or due to age. Either of these conditions can reduce the ability of the immune system and cause serious infections.
Here is a list of conditions that may cause low immunity:
1. Nutrient Deficiency
4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
5. Low White Blood Cell count (Neutropenia)
6. Transplant surgery or usage of anti-rejection drugs
7. Low Stomach Acidity
Low immunity can also be due to age as immunity lowers with age. Immunity is also low among children and among pregnant women.
Symptoms of Low Immunity
The symptoms of low immune function include:
1. Chronic infections
2. Frequent colds and flu
3. Frequent cold sores or genital herpes
4. Sore or swollen lymph glands
How to Improve the Immune System
1. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C to raise immune system levels.
2. Avoid fatty foods and those that contain refined sugar such as sweets and desserts.
3. Drink herbal teas especially green tea because it enhances the body to produce more immune cells.
4. Avoid eating red meat. Instead, go for fish, tofu, nuts, and grains.
5. Increase your water intake to 8 or 10 glasses of water a day.
6. Exercise regularly.
7. Practice a healthy lifestyle such as having enough sleep and avoid cigarette smoking.
This nutrient helps to slow down the symptoms of aging and strengthen body cells that fight infection. People who eat foods rich in vitamin E or take supplements have an added weapon against Bacteria and viruses. Vitamin E also helps in the fight against Heart disease and Cancer. Good food sources of are whole grain foods and vegetable oils. Supplements are recommended to reach the daily requirement of this vitamin. Check with your doctor on the dose.
This fights infection and strengthens overall immunity. However, too much iron can be harmful and a physician should be consulted before starting a program of using iron supplements. Meats, dried beans and tofu are good sources of iron.
Ashwagandha is a general stimulant of the immune system. This herb is known to counteract the effects of stress and promote general well- being.
Diet to boost immune health
It a known fact that for an optimal immune function a healthy diet is the best solution. One should ensure the diet comprises of:
1. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, whole grains, and nuts.
2. The diet is low in fats and refined sugars.
3. Foods high in carotenes such as: yellow and orange squash, dark greens, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, red peppers and tomatoes.
4. Cabbage family foods (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, radish and turnip) help prevent low immunity.
5. Must contain adequate amounts of protein.
6. Flavonid rich berries, garlic, yoghurt and artichoke help boost immunity.