Everyday in the news there are new stories about viruses and bacteria. The flu is going around or your best friend has a cold. It’s enough to make anyone want to simply sit at home in front of the tube in hopes of avoiding a miserable weekend in bed with a cough and sore throat, if not worse. But is that really any way to live? Of course not and precious few of us can actually afford the luxury of doing so. Instead, we have to go on shopping at the crowded supermarket or riding the dirty subways. So just how can we reduce our chances of picking up that nasty flu or respiratory infection that everyone seems to be raving about? Well we can load up on the latest vaccines, wear masks over our faces, and avoid close human contact…or we can trust in our natural defenses, immunity. And, to give this naturally hard worker a bit of extra strength, we can give it a boost with natural and healthy foods and drinks. So now for the good part, what exactly are the best things we can put in our bodies?
Lets start with something simple, something you can pick up at just about any grocery store so there is no point in making the “I don’t have time to make that extra stop” excuse. Vitamin C. You’ve all heard it before, if you have a cold or flu this little vitamin can make a big difference! Taking it daily can boost daily defense which is a great way to avoid ever getting sick. However, if you have already caught something, a good dose of vitamin C can help to knock it out quickly. Dr. David Williams suggests taking 500-1000 milligrams every couple hours to give your immune system that much needed boost. (2006). Foods rich in vitamin c include citrus fruits, broccoli, and sweet red or green peppers. (Watterworth, 2006).
Another easy to find immunity boosting fix? Echinacea. You hear it all the time on television and radio advertisements, and yes it actually does have those great qualities. Echinacea has properties that increase antibody production in our bodies, thus creating a tighter and stronger method of fighting infection. (Immunity Booster, N.d.) Like vitamin C, Echinacea can be found in typical grocery stores, pharmacies, or health food markets. Due to its easy availability and powerful affects in the boosting of white blood cell production and activity, it makes this list of top items for your body.
Now that we’ve discussed two simple supplements, how about a little something to add to your food? Whether you’re healthy and planning on a great meal out, or sick and only up for a little chicken soup or bread, garlic is an easy means of getting the needed immune boosting benefits. Although cooked garlic doesn’t sport the stark benefits of a clove of raw garlic, it is still a great way to add strength to your immune system. If you love that garlic taste and bit of fresh garlic with your meals, mix it in with a fresh salad, in a dressing, pasta, or even your favorite soup. Garlic is a simple, cheap, and flavorful way to give your natural defenses a boost.
Another common addition to any meal is parsley. You know that little green tree looking plant that you throw off your plate and disregard as only a garnish? Well that little garnish packs immunity modulating properties. In fact “it’s antibacterial and has been used in the treatment of bronchitis and pneumonia.” (Zoltan, N.d). With such great properties why are we throwing it off our plate? Instead of disregarding this little garnish, add it to meals in pasta sauces, put it in a salad, take it as a supplement, or simply eat that little tree like stalk on your plate (a little is better than nothing).
Lastly, although certainly not the last item with immune boosting properties, are amino acids. Of late, there has been a great hype in the health of amino acids and the importance of working more of them into our diets. It is a fact that deficiencies in amino acids have frequently produced immune system weaknesses (Zoltan, N.d), thus hindering out ability to fight off or avoid infection. Amino acids are found in proteins as they are building blocks of it, thus a deficiency in proper protein sources can result in an amino acid deficiency. Such products and protein powders can supply vegetarians or light protein eaters with a means of stocking up on these important immune building elements.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. There are a number of great ingredients out there that bare these immune boosting properties that are common and inexpensive, it’s only a matter of actually getting out there and picking them up. Instead of stocking up on cold and flu medications this year, try boosting your natural defenses on a daily basis. They are after all, your best defense again infection…why not give them a hand?
Remember that a healthy diet is enhanced by a healthy amount of exercise. Any and all supplements taken can and should be discussed with your doctor, who can also advise you on doses of the immune boosting ingredients mentioned here, as well as others, that are best for your particular body.
Watterworth, H (2006). Immunity Boosters. Retrieved August 31, 2006, from Homemakers.com Web site: http://www.homemakers.com/homemakers/client/en/Health/DetailNews.asp?idNews=1677&idSM=196
Williams, D (2006, August 31). Immune Health. Retrieved August 31, 2006, from DrDavidWilliams.com Web site: http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/c/immune_health_recs.asp
Immunity Booster- An Overview. (N.d). Retrieved August 31, 2006, from Natural-Treatment-Guide.com Web site: http://www.natural-treatment-guide.com/immunesystem/immunity-booster.html
Zoltan, R, M.D, M.Sc (N.d). Increasing Immunity Through Natural Methods. Retrieved August 31, 2006, from Consumer Health Web site: http://www.consumerhealth.org/articles/display.cfm?ID=19990303211438