10 Immune System Boosters and Busters

10 Immune System Boosters and Busters
by George Ponting | March 5, 2013

Defense against illness, foreign invaders and attacks in our bodies is the primary job of the immune system.This system is an elaborate labyrinth of cells, tissue and organs that work in unison to combat assault by sickness causing viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi.

What can you do strengthen the immune system and what should you avoid to help facilitate bodily defense mechanisms? Read on to find out!

Immune System Boosters:

Several foods are known for their immune system boosting traits.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is the quintessential immune system booster. The tradition of eating chicken soup each time you have a cold dates back centuries. A recent study found that hot chicken soup was considerably better at making nose runny during a particularly annoying blockage and thinning mucus for easy removal.

Comparatively, drinking either hot or cold water was not so helpful in increasing nasal secretion that helps get rid of viruses and bacteria.

Chicken soup also keeps you hydrated with a rise in temperature of your airways. A clear broth is best for a cold or maybe a chicken noodle soup with a sprinkling of hot chili that speeds up nasal dripping.

Blueberries

Blueberries are high in Vitamin C and A, which are instrumental in antibody production. They also contain Vitamin B which is an effective immune system booster.The anti-oxidant properties of blueberries remain intact in frozen state too. The Anthocyanin content in blueberries helps neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called "free radicals" that can lead to cancer and other age related diseases. Add them to your yogurt or morning cereals to jump start your immunity.

Yogurt

Studies have shown that eating a cup of low-fat yogurt each day can be a great immune system booster. It may reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt, Lactobacillus reuteri, have been found to block the replication of viruses that invade the body when we fall ill.

Researchers have found that regularly eating probiotics or “good bacteria” found in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut may help your immune system work efficiently and improve digestion. Kefir (a yogurt-like beverage) is also a good bet.

There is no a guarantee of probiotic power with the labels on the packs—the bacterial counts don’t differentiate between healthy probiotics and the bacteria that’s used to ferment the yogurt. There are several new “probiotic” cereals and granola bars on the shelves now. It’s not always clear what amount of good bacteria the manufacturers actually add to the products or whether the strains included are effective as immune system boosters,so make sure do research the product thoroughly before you try it. The manufacturer’s website it often a good place to start.

Kiwifruit

Kiwis have high vitamin C content, which is an important immune system booster.They also contain the powerful vitamin E which helps increase your body's T. Lymphocytes (T-cell) count. This plays a vital role in the disease fighting mechanism.

This little fruit has very low calorie count, which is always a plus for weight watchers. A pair of medium sized kiwis adds only 90 calories to your diet but bring a whopping 240% of the daily value for Vitamin C. The kiwi will also provide 450 mg of potassium and four grams of dietary fiber.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits contain an immense quantity of the powerhouse vitamin C. Studies have found that this antioxidant can reduce cold symptoms by 23% and all that's needed by an adult is a mere one to eight grams (1,000 to 8,000 milligrams) to work up a great immune system boost.

An average Orange provides 250 mg of potassium and astoundingly has only 80 calories. Oranges are great juicy fruits eaten plain or easily juiced to make a nutritious drink.

The grapefruit is also an excellent citrus fruit for boosting your immune system. A half grapefruit contains 100% of the daily value for Vitamin C and just 60 calories!

Honey

Honey soothingly coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help combat infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi and boost your immune system. Hunt for buckwheat honey if you’re looking for the highest antioxidant content.

A note to parents & caregivers:do not feed honey to children under one as their immune systems are not developed enough to ward off the infantile botulism carried in honey spores.

Immune System Busters:

Things that bust up your immune system are several and varied. Here’s a low down on the typical and exotic immunity busters:

Excess Baggage

Losing weight has its perks, and carrying extra junk in the trunk can be a horrid immunity buster. Having excess weight is bad for your immune system. This is best illustrated by an interesting statistic. Those who become most seriously affected by the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the ‘swine flu’ virus, tended to share the same characteristic: a body mass index over 40!

Excess weight can also cause hormonal imbalances and inflammation that impairs the immune system's ability to fight infection.

Stress

Stressing over little things is a big downer when you are unwell. Here’s input from a report by the American Psychological Association: long-term stress is a serious immune system buster. Chronic stress—the everyday type of worry you feel over trouble in paradise, job insecurity or a sick relative—takes a toll on many aspects of your health, including immunity.

Extended phases of extreme stress may result in a lower natural T-cell count, slower T-cells, and decreased macrophage activity that can further derail the immune response.

Shop around until you find healthy stress relievers that can take the edge off. It’s all up to you:a long run on the treadmill, a relaxing yoga class, hanging out by the wharf, or baking dessert just for fun can all help. The important thing is that you unwind the way you prefer and recover from stress, since it's often hard to avoid in the first place.

Not enough water

Here’s another immune system buster for the books. When you are struck with the annoying flu and/or any viral pests, your body needs plenty of water to flush out toxins—and guess what? Coffee and tea are acceptable sources! How much fluid you should drink daily varies from person to person. You will know you are drinking the right amount if your urine is pale yellow.

Smoking

Regular puffers are at a higher risk for developing bacterial, viral and/or fungal infections, parasites, ulcers, cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia, infertility, high blood pressure, and many more health issues. This happens because smoking depresses the body’s immune response and there is less protection available.

Smokers also tend to have comparatively lower levels of protective antioxidants (such as Vitamin C) in their bloodstream.This decreased level is a huge immune system buster. A smoker’s body is also very toxic, so the liver is more strained – making it a target for disease.For heavy smokers, illnesses are more severe and it takes longer to get over them.

So quit today and free yourself from this immune system buster!

Lack of human contact

People who have a great support system tend to get better soon and seem more resilient than those flying solo. Research shows that the lesser human connections we have with friends, colleagues and the community, the more likely we are to get sick.

A solitary attitude tends to flood our brains with anxiety-causing chemicals. In one study, researchers who monitored 276 people between the ages of 18 and 55 found that those who had 6 or more connections were four times better at fighting off the viruses that cause colds than those with fewer friends.

So make an effort at going out, meeting up friends and making time for the family during holidays and weekends to get a fun immune system boost!

The advice on Fitness Republic should not be used as a substitute for a consultation with your physician. Discuss your health and wellness concerns with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine. A little bit of research goes a long way in boosting your immune system and staying in great shape!

About the Author - George Ponting

George Ponting remains up-to-date with General Fitness! From a young age, he has been extremely keen on and passionate about learning about the best ways to remain fit. George is full of tips, advice and suggestions in the field of fitness! Stay tuned to our General Fitness Section to receive the hottest Fitness information

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