Somewhere inside our body, there is a microorganism waiting to wreak havoc, or a cancer cell waiting to reproduce. Bacteria and viruses are challenging us by the minute, so the proteins, organs, tissues, and cells that make up our immune system are constantly working to protect us. The immune system’s primary job is to properly identify the body’s enemies and essentially destroy them, but in order for that to happen most efficiently, we must protect and defend our immune system. However, for the last hundred years or so, we have focused on the offense instead of the defense. Prescription drugs are given without hesitation and antibiotics are prescribed for no reason. While we are constantly focused on treating illnesses and not people, we run the risk of damaging our body’s first line of defense.
The primary cause of a compromised immune system is a poor diet that is often laden with sugar, refined foods, too much caffeine or alcohol. When we eat too much sugar, for example, we have excess insulin, and less growth hormone. In addition, just to metabolize these sugars, we must use the vitamins and minerals we have in storage, further depleting the body of what it needs. This puts us at risk for infections, autoimmune diseases, and obesity.
The foods that boost the immune system include anti-inflammatory foods like fresh fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. These foods replenish the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help protect us from outside invaders. They block the chemical reactions that create free radicals and neutralize them, protecting the body at its deepest level. Moderately boosting protein levels can also be beneficial as protein increases immune system capacity by 25%.
For severely compromised immune systems, supplementation is sometimes necessary. A whole food based multi vitamin/mineral supplement along with 1 gram of Vitamin C five times per day is a great place to start. Astragulus root and Echinacea are also immune system-boosting herbs that can be very effective. Japanese Mushrooms also have extremely significant anti-cancer, anti-viral, and immune system benefits. They increase resistance to different types of stress as well as longevity. Some doctors recommend their patients use these mushrooms if colds or viruses frequently trouble them. Probiotics, or friendly gut bacteria are the perfect immune system boost as they help defend the body against all kinds of foreign substances. Maintaining that optimum balance of good flora will add an extra layer of protection beginning with the digestive system. Foods like yogurt, kephir, or other fermented foods contain these healthy bacteria, although supplements are sometimes more beneficial as they are usually more concentrated. Health food stores will often carry probiotic supplements in the refrigerated section, but always read the labels and look to find the bacteria in the trillions. These supplements can also be used to combat digestive issues as well as depression.
Drinking plenty of fresh water to help keep impurities flowing through the body is always in order as chronic dehydration sets the stage for many illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, and hypertension. Water also aids in weight loss as it helps keep the stomach feeling full while containing no calories.