Cold and flu season is among us, but you can keep healthy by staying active, eating right, and getting a good night’s sleep.
The immune system is more powerful than we realize – it wards off bacteria, common colds, viruses, and cancer cells throughout our lifetimes. On the whole, your immune system does an outstanding job keeping you healthy and safe from disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes, it fails, and a germ successfully makes you sick. Is it possible to prevent sickness by making the immune system stronger? Yes, with the right choices and habits, you can strengthen your immune system. In addition to sleep and exercise, one of the most important ways to strengthen your immune system is by focusing on nutrient-dense foods. Common lifestyle habits like consuming too much sugar and fat is dangerous because it suppresses the immune cells responsible for warding off bacteria.
Boost the Immune System Naturally
In addition to stocking up on nutrient-dense foods, there are relatively easy steps you can take every day to strengthen your immune system. Here are some of the top tips on how to keep your immune system in tip-top shape:
1. Consume Garlic. Garlic has been used for centuries for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Recent science shows that garlic works in preventing and treating colds by increasing T-cell production. T cells, a type of white blood cell, help fight infections and target specific pathogens. Scientists from the University of Florida found that garlic contains many compounds that proliferate the production of T cells, ultimately reducing the severity of both the common cold and the flu. Studies have also found that fermented garlic includes more organosulfur compounds–good for your gut and immune system. If you really want to get onboard with garlic, try the garlic soup recipe towards the end.
2. Get your vitamin D. Research suggests vitamin D boosts immune response. Scientists from the University of Birmingham discovered that vitamin D helps to control the balance between regulatory and inflammatory T cell responses. In other words, if you don’t have enough vitamin D, your T cells could respond incorrectly, leading to more seasonal colds and flu. Our skin can make more than enough vitamin D by soaking up some valuable sunshine, so be sure to include some daily outdoor activity in your routine.
3. Juice green vegetables for chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in algae and plants. It’s the biomolecule that allows plants to absorb energy from light. So how does a pigment important in plant life aid your immune system? Chlorophyll helps to thicken and strengthen cell walls, which accelerates tissue activity and the regrowth of cells, ultimately helping the body to heal faster. All green vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, celery, green beans, romaine lettuce, and kale, contain concentrated sources of chlorophyll.
4. Eat your probiotics. Your gut bacteria fulfill a host of necessary functions, including aiding in digestion, repressing the growth of harmful microorganisms, training the immune system to respond only to pathogens, and preventing certain diseases. However, there is a delicate balance of bacteria has to be maintained. Harmful bacteria can invade the digestive tract and prevent the healthy bacteria from doing their work, leading to diseases both inside and outside of the intestines. A primary role of probiotics is to strengthen the healthy bacteria in the gut. Adding more healthy bacteria providers strong immune defense by reducing bad bacteria. Certain probiotics, such as Lactobacillus casei Shirota, enhance the activity the natural killer cells in the immune system, decreasing the risk of becoming sick. The integrity of the mucosal lining within the digestive tract is critical to overall health – as soon as it is compromised, toxins can enter into the body. Probiotics assist in keeping the mucus lining secure. If you are not already taking probiotics, you should be on your way to your local health food store now to pick some up. Helping the immune system is only one of the numerous benefits that probiotics offer.
5. Fill up on omega 3 fatty acids. Inflammation is a double-edged sword. It can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. When you are injured or infected, the body sends immune cells to the scene, ready to fight off any toxins and repair the tissue – causing inflammation to the area. While it can be necessary for healing, too much inflammation can cause tissue damage and more overall damage than the original problem. Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis are caused by unregulated, excessive inflammatory responses. So where do omega 3 fatty acids come into play? Omega 3 acids play a role in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
6. Soak up the sun and sleep tight.This flu this year is being considered the worst flu since 2003-2004. However, only 32% of Americans have been vaccinated. For those that haven’t been vaccinated, those who are choosing not to, and those that want extra protection, one of the best ways to prevent sickness and keep the immune system healthy is through two of many people’s favorite things: sleep and sunshine. Be sure to get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night for solid immune strength. While only some of us live in places like Arizona and Florida, try to soak up and possible sunshine you can.
Garlic Soup Recipe for Colds
The standard garlic soup, in which you would use several heads of roasted garlic tastes wonderful and is a good use of garlic as a preventative. But for treating a cold, the garlic should not be roasted as this lessens its impact as an antibacterial agent.
Instead, make a garlic soup using chicken or vegetable broth, chopped garlic and a little ginger or hot peppers. Bring 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to a boil. Chop two to three cloves of garlic and drop them into the broth and reduce the heat to simmer. Grate 1 tsp. of ginger and add to the broth. Let it for 15 minutes and remove from the heat. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then sip the soup slowly. It doesn’t taste very good, but it will clear your head. *Source, eHow.com