Build a Fighting Immune System
August 12, 2009 § 2 Comments
I talk about immune systems quite a bit on my blog because I have had some troubles with mine. It doesn’t hurt to do some strengthening of your own immune system before this winter’s cold and flu season. This winter should prove to be one of the most challenging with the H1N1 virus around.
Here are some things I have done to keep my immune system strong:
- Add probiotics to your diet. Probiotics promote good bacteria in your digestive tract. This is especially important if you have a yeast problem (recurrant yeast infections), are taking antibiotics (as they destroy all bacteria good and bad), or have seasonal allergies. The most common probiotic is acidophilus but there are many. You can include probiotic foods into your diet which would be kefir, yogurt, or fermented foods like saurkraut, Korean kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), or miso. You may choose to supplement instead which is fine. Products come in pills, powders, and are even added to other supplement powders. It’s very important to choose a product that has been refrigerated. The cultures are not active if the supplement is not refrigerated. I include kefir or greek yogurt in my diet every day. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, there is also coconut milk kefir. I just tried strawberry flavor. It’s not bad at all! My kids have yogurt every day but I also have a powdered probiotic I can add to their milk to be sure they get the good bacteria.
- Add more onions and garlic to your cooking. This is a tip my nutritionist gave me and for good reason. Onions contain flavonoids that protect against cardiovascular disease, has anti-cancer properties, and they just taste great. Garlic has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It is also a powerful antioxidant and immune booster with anti-inflammatory properties and it’s a bug repellent!
- Increase your intake of Vitamin D. With the use of sunscreens we don’t get nearly enough vitamin D from sunlight. Not only does Vitamin D help build strong bones, it helps regulate the immune and neuromuscular system. Milk is already fortified with Vitamin D. You can increase your intake of Vitamin D through fortified orange juice or cereal, salmon, egg yolks, tuna or sardines packed in oil, cod liver oil, and mackeral.
- Add some turmeric to your diet. If you missed my post about curry, you’ll want to check out the many benefits of turmeric. If you’re not a fan of Indian food, this spice can be hidden in dishes like soups and casseroles. You can also supplement with turmeric (also referred to as curcumin) in pill form.
- Add some spice to your foods. Chilies, cayenne, hot sauce whatever you can tolerate. Capsaicin fights cancer, has potent anti-bacterial properties, clears congestion, and fights inflammation. There has been some talk that it acts as a thermogenic agent and is a fat fighter. I will say that it helps move things along for me, not like I need any help in that department anyway.
Just a side note about spicy food. My mom eats food so spicy, she needs a tissue box nearby to blow her nose. Now while this may sound bizarre to some, she has only had one serious illness in her life that I remember and I’m 35 years old. She and I had the flu when I was in the 5th grade. About 15 years ago, my dad cut out an article from Prevention magazine about the benefits of spicy food. It was so convincing, he started eating spicy too!
From personal experience, those are my top suggestions for strengthening your immune system. If you order a really spicy Indian dish, you have quite a few of these points covered! 🙂