Helpful ways to strengthen your immune system and fight off disease
Increase immunity the healthy way
Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity. But the concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically. In fact, boosting the number of cells in your body — immune cells or others — is not necessarily a good thing. For example, athletes who engage in “blood doping” — pumping blood into their systems to boost their number of blood cells and enhance their performance — run the risk of strokes.
Attempting to boost the cells of your immune system is especially complicated because there are so many different kinds of cells in the immune system that respond to so many different microbes in so many ways. Which cells should you boost, and to what number? So far, scientists do not know the answer. What is known is that the body is continually generating immune cells. Certainly, it produces many more lymphocytes than it can possibly use. The extra cells remove themselves through a natural process of cell death called apoptosis — some before they see any action, some after the battle is won. No one knows how many cells or what the best mix of cells the immune system needs to function at its optimum level.
IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS TO EAT ON REPEAT
If you are unlucky enough to get ill, you need to be strong enough to beat it. There is one extremely strong defense against it and you control that lever. It is your immune system. It can fight back against any virus or bacteria. Put it in overdrive with these 10 foods.
1. Beans—all kinds: black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, blackeyed peas, lentils
2. Greens—spinach, kale, chards, beet tops, fennel tops
3. Sweet potatoes—don’t confuse with yams.
4. Nuts—all kinds: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews
5. Olive oil—green, extra-virgin is usually the best. Note that olive oil decomposes quickly, so buy no more than a month’s supply at a time.
6. Oats—slow-cook or Irish steel-cut are best.
7. Barley—either in soups, as a hot cereal, or ground in bread
8. Fruits—all kinds
9. Green or herbal teas
10. Turmeric—as a spice or a tea
11. Garlic—sometimes eaten pickled on Okinawa, garlic is one of nature’s most powerful natural medicines
12. Shiitake mushrooms—in soups, sauces, or stir fries, they contain more than 100 different compounds with immune-protecting properties
13. Goat’s milk—consumed by Sardinian shepherds, used sparingly in pastas, soups, and grated over vegetables, it is rich in zinc and selenium, which are essential for optimal immune system activity
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