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Vitamin A is very important in the body's defense system.
Vitamin C may be the single most important vitamin for the immune system. It is essential for the formation of adrenal hormones and the production of lymphocytes. Vitamin C should be taken with bioflavonoids.
Vitamin E interacts with vitamins A and C and the mineral selenium, acting as a primary antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals. Vitamin E activity is an integral part of the body's defense system.
Zinc boosts the immune response and promotes the healing of wounds when used in appropriate doses. It also helps to protect the liver.
Caution: Excessive doses (over 100 milligrams per day) may actually depress immune function.
Alcohol reduces the activity of white blood cells and the body's antibody responses. Low or moderate alcohol consumption seems to stimulate immune functions in a positive way. However, excessive consumption depresses immunity. The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment of white blood cell mobility.
Drug abuse causes immune dysfunction. Heroin, morphine, and cocaine cause a variety of immune-system abnormalities. Some of the chemical components of marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol and cannibinoids, exert a powerful immunosuppressive effect, reducing the body's production of T cells, natural-killer cells, and interferon. The use of alcohol and drugs also increases the susceptibility to AIDS and, likely, other infections.
Excessive physical and emotional stress, including depression, can rob our body of immunity. Studies have shown that reducing stress levels, increased socializing, and positive thinking can increase the activity of T cells and natural- killer cells and dramatically extend the lives of cancer patients.
Moderate exercise stimulates and enhances all cellular activity. However, more is definitely not better. Over-exercise stresses the immune system and can increase the risk of upper respiratory infections. Such strenuous exercises depress the activities of T cells and natural-killer cells.
The type and the quantity of food you consume is very important for your health. Food provides the energy to your body. For a healthy immune system, the food should provide all the nutrients that are essential for good health.
Food contains several complex chemicals, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. For example, a small clove of garlic contains more than two hundred different chemicals. The right diet can keep you healthy, prevents infection and minimize the need for medications.
The fact that diet is very important in developing the body's resistance to infection had been recognized for thousands of years. The ancient scriptures of India documented the association between food and health in 5000 B.C. The medieval church records in England recorded the relationship between crop failures and famine and subsequent epidemics.
According to Richard P. Huemer, MD, author of "The Natural Health Guide to Beating the Supergerms," the consequences of a good or bad diet cannot be understated." Dr. Huemer has shown that HIV-positive men with a high intake of vitamins do not develop full-blown AIDS as quickly as the men who have a low intake of vitamins. Further, patients with AIDS require large doses of micronutrients to achieve and maintain normal levels of these nutrients compared to healthy persons.
Infection disturbs the nutrient levels in the body. (3) Variations in the diet result in ups and downs in immunity.
So, if you feed yourself with the right "foods," you can influence the regeneration process. You can help your body back to a healthy state that can fight the external attackers and keep it in "good shape."
Here are some recommendations for healthy eating for a healthy immune system.
A low-fat, high-fiber diet reduces your risk of degenerative diseases and improves your overall health. Soluble fiber helps move food through your digestive system quickly.
Reduce your fat intake. A high-fat diet can lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It is not enough to reduce just the fat intake. You must combine it with a high- fiber intake.
Fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are good sources of soluble fiber. Another great source for soluble fiber is psyllium husk. Consume at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day.
Eat at least five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day. They are important source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals provide disease-protective effects to the body.
Adequate protein intake is important for proper immune functioning.
Protein deficiency can adversely affect all facets of immune function. If you are suffering from diseases such as cancer and AIDS, you need to supplement your diet with a high-quality protein (e.g., whey protein, soy protein isolate, and egg protein) at a dosage of 0.8 gram per 2.2 pounds of body weight. The protein will help prevent the wasting away (cachexia) associated with these conditions.
Water is the body's single most important nutrient. Almost all of the body's functions rely on water. It carries nutrients to the cells; carries waste and toxins away from the cells and out of the body; maintains the body's temperature; and provides protection and cushioning for the joints and organs of the body.
We lose water constantly through physiological processes such as sweating, elimination and breathing. This water needs to be replenished. The body does not keep a reserve of water as it does with other nutrients. So, our need for water is continuous.
Experts recommend that a healthy adult should drink one and a half to two quarts of water per day. Sometimes we need more water because of accelerated loss of water due to heat, excessive sweating, diarrhea, etc. When you feel thirsty, drink water.
Cold, pressed, unrefined nut or seed oil like flax seed, walnut or pumpkin seed oils contain the essential fatty acids omega-6 linoleic acid and omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. Our bodies need essential fatty acids for many important metabolic functions. Take the oil daily on salads or in other dishes. The oils lose the critical nutrients when they are heated; so make sure you consume it cold.
Studies have shown that when your body is deficient in omega-6 linoleic acid, our immune system gets suppressed. The body converts linoleic acid into Prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that stimulate immunity.
Cold-water fish oil from salmon and mackerel is another good source for essential fatty acid.
For best results, eat fish and a salad with a dressing of unrefined, cold-pressed sunflower or walnut oils. The fatty acid of the fish helps ensure the conversion of the oil's linoleic acid to Prostaglandins.
There are several foods you should avoid. The most important is sugar.
Sugar contains no nutrients. Excessive sugar intake can deplete your body of several vitamins and minerals. We recommend that you avoid consumption of any refined food or food products.
Dr. Robert McCracken, a UCLA anthropologist, faults refined sugar for some forms of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and even possibly some kinds of cancer. (2) He noted that members of certain primitive tribes who consume more saturated fats than Americans, have normal blood cholesterol levels and suffer from fewer diseases than Americans. His research showed that the main difference is that they never touch refined sugar.
A high intake of sugar adversely affects the immune system. Sugar impairs the ability of white blood cells to sweep up and kill bacteria. It also robs the body of key nutrients such as zinc that is vital for the immune function.
Dr. Nancy Appleton, author of "Lick the Sugar Habit" gave 59 reasons why sugar ruins our health:
A short fast can help improve the immune function by lowering the blood sugar levels. Fasting will significantly increase the ability of white blood cells to destroy microorganisms. Do not extend the fasting for an excessive period, since eventually the leukocytes' energy sources will become depleted.
In addition to avoiding the following foods, do not eat too much food, do not eat late at night, and eat simpler food combinations.