Eat more red peppersDid you know that one red pepper contains as much vitamin C as two navel oranges? When you get sick, everyone says to stock up on Vitamin C for a good reason – it has been shown to prevent the proliferation of bacterial growth, as well as increase the efficacy of our white blood cells in fighting off disease by making our cells more mobile and faster acting.
Get some sunshineWe’ve all heard the recent reviews about the importance of vitamin D in many aspects of our health, but what happens if you live in a climate where you don’t have year-round access to sunshine? Try increasing your intake of seafood such as herring or shrimp, or try opting for a whole-egg omelette (not just the whites), because vitamin D is found in the yolk.
Vitamin D boost our immunity by acting as a regulatory agent in the expression of T-Cells; this means that vitamin D works as a traffic light, telling the T-cells when to attack invaders and when to stay dormant.
Go coconuts (with coconut oil)Coconut oil is a great substitute for olive oil when you’re cooking because olive oil will start to degrade and oxidize above medium heat, whereas coconut oil can withstand much higher temperatures due to its properties as a medium chain triglyceride. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid that’s used by the body to create antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal agents that ward off the foreign invaders in your body. Lauric acid is also currently being researched to treat acne vulgaris, so try using coconut oil as a moisturizer, too.
Back up your bacteriaIncreasing your intake of healthy bacteria will allow your body to properly identify and attack the bad bacteria. Probiotics such as L. Casei found in yogurt, kefir, miso and tempeh actually re-inoculate your intestinal tract so pathogens cannot enter your bloodstream. This will help stop illness before it starts.
But remember, those healthy bacteria also need to feed on something – so make sure you’re getting enough soluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber is often referred to as “prebiotic” because it has the ability to be fermented and partially digested by the good bacteria in your gut, leading to improved elimination and immunity.
Pump some ironIt’s more common for women than men to suffer from an iron deficiency, and it can be especially dangerous in children and pregnant mothers. Even a sub-clinical iron deficiency has been shown to result in a decrease in size and activity in the thymus gland and the lymph nodes. The thymus gland is a master immune regulator and distributor of those T-cells that help destroy pathogens.
In addition to the nutritional additions you can make to your diet, it’s also possible to boost your immunity through lifestyle changes. Reducing your stress levels and increasing your physical activities are both great places to start.
In the 1970s, studies began to emerge as to why widowed spouses were getting sick more often after their spouse had passed away. These studies indicated that the long term stress levels of losing a loved one actually inhibited their immune system, allowing them to get sick more often. This is because the adrenal glands constantly release cortisol and epinephrine, which inhibit the development of white blood cells. So consider activities that make you happy and decrease stress levels to ward off unwanted pathogens.
To that end, physical activity is an amazing stress reliever. Participating in physical activity that lasts at least 20-30 minutes starts to encourage the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) and increases circulation to the brain as well as lymphatic circulation. That helps to rid the body of stagnant debris, as well as allowing oxygen to circulate more freely in your blood and tissues, which in turn helps to boost your immunity. So stay healthy, get active and decrease your stress levels to boost your immunity and help you enjoy every part of the season.