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|What can I do to boost my immune system?|
|Written by Indubitably|
|15 May 2010|
That is among the most frequently asked questions here, and it’s a great one! There are a lot of things you do every day (or don’t do) that have a dramatic impact on your immune system. In this article, I will discuss some of the easiest things you can do to give it a boost. Some of these things may seem like difficult changes, but once you begin to make them, you’ll realize it’s really not that hard. You will also be able to take pride in the changes you’ve made to improve your health and appreciate the strong person that you are.
The first, most important thing you can do for yourself is drink water. Water is essential to good health. It sustains life. Among its many benefits, it aids in digestion, absorption of nutrients, circulation, body temperature regulation, and detoxification of the liver and kidneys. Unfortunately, it’s not at all uncommon for people to drink hardly no water at all. Instead, they turn to sodas to quench their thirst.
Soda is terrible for your health. Study after study reveals the damaging health effects of drinking it. The United States has the highest consumption in the world, and it shows in waistlines and health problems. To read about the staggering effects of soda consumption on the human body, check out http://www.ionizers.org/soft-drinks.html
If eight glasses of water a day isn’t your thing, why not try tea? Black, white, green, and oolong teas contain and abundance of cachetins and polyphenols that are great for brain health as well as immunity. Research suggests they reduce risks of cancer, diabetes, heart failure, and stroke; and those in green tea have been shown to contain antibiotic properties as well.
As for food, eat breakfast! Skipping breakfast has been shown to increase one’s BMI. Ideally, you should eat several small meals a day to boost metabolism. While this doesn’t directly boost your immune system, it prevents problems that could wreak havoc on it. If you’re a busy person and you feel like you don’t have time to stop for breakfast, remember that breakfast doesn’t have to be biscuits and gravy with eggs and bacon. In fact, it’s better that it not be, as that’s not a healthy breakfast.
Fresh fruit is a great breakfast (or snack) that you can grab and go with. Go to the produce section of your grocery store and stock up. Berries are extremely healthy are great mixed together for some variety. Bananas are jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients too. So, if you’ve got time for a bowl of cereal (grab something with whole grains*, and avoid those loaded with sugar), slice some bananas in it, and top it with some skim or low fat milk. You get the health benefits and it adds some natural sweetness. This simple and inexpensive breakfast will take you a couple of minutes to put together and is extremely healthy.
Speaking of several small meals a day and being busy… those don’t really go together. Portion control is very important in maintaining a healthy weight. Smaller meals are easier on your digestive system and you stop eating when you’re actually full—it takes 20 minutes after you’re actually “full” to feel it, which sometimes leads people to overeat without realizing it. So maybe you, like most people, don’t have time for five meals a day. Fair enough. But what about three appropriately portioned meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and a couple healthy snacks between?
You can also save yourself time by planning your meals in advance. If you’re not in the habit of cooking fresh, it’s so important to make that change. Processed foods are full of sodium, dyes, preservatives, and all sorts of things the average person can’t pronounce. Even worse, a staggering number of products (serious, go to your kitchen and start checking labels!) contain high fructose corn syrup, which lacks any redeeming quality at all. There are a lot of recipes available on the Internet that are quick, easy, and cheap. Try your hand at some! Make a shopping list with all the items you need to make a few recipes for the week, and do your shopping prepared. Gradually transition into cooking healthier meals. You’ll find you feel better and have more energy. What better way to expend that energy than preparing even more great meals!
Another important aspect of immune system health: Exercise. It doesn’t have to involve a gym or a lot of time. Jogging is one of the best exercises you can do. If you’re not up for that, just walk. Walk around your neighborhood (and grab a friend to walk with you); and when you go shopping or out to eat, park in the back of the lot and walk to the building. Do this whenever feasible. Try some exercises while you’re watching TV. Maybe some leg lifts, squats, and lunges. It’s true that these are busy times and we have things to do… I know. But you’re not going to be doing much of anything if you fall into seriously ill health.
Last, get some rest. Sleep is extremely important for your immune system. You need to give your body sufficient down time because that’s when most healing occurs. Staying up until the wee hours and then getting up early is no good. If you find yourself getting too few hours at night, squeeze in a nap during the day. Sleep is also important for keeping your mind sharp!
Take care of yourselves, and look out for the next article in this series: “What foods should I eat for my health?”
* Whole grains are those that have the entire grain intact: bran, germ, and endosperm. Because of the high level of dietary fiber (significantly less in refined grains), you may find that you are gassier than usual if you increase your intake of whole grains. This should regulate itself after a short time, however; so don’t give up on them if this happens to you! Instead, enjoy your more efficient digestive system.
Katz, David L. "The Way to Eat: Diet Tweaks That Make a Difference". Oprah.com, August 12, 2008. Retrieved on May 15, 2010 from http://www.oprah.com/health/Quick-and-Easy-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Diet
"Health Benefits Of Whole Grains Confirmed". ScienceDaily, May 10, 2007. Retrieved on May 15, 2010 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509161030.htm
"The Health Effects of Drinking Soda". Ionizers.org. Retrieved on May 15, 2010 from http://www.ionizers.org/soft-drinks.html