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Be Guarded Against Diseases: 10 Things That Weaken Your Immune System And 12 Immunity Boosters You Should Eat

Be Guarded Against Diseases: 10 Things That Weaken Your Immune System And 12 Immunity Boosters You Should Eat

Nobody knows exactly how your immune system works. It is a complicated network which involves antibodies, proteins, chemicals and white blood cells. A strong immune system means these are all working in harmony and help you to fight illness, viruses, bacteria and all other sorts of nasties that are waiting to attack. Researchers do not yet fully understand how food, exercise and rest affect the system but interesting facts are coming to light. There is now enough evidence to show that a healthy lifestyle will certainly help our immune system to stay ahead.

Let us examine what can compromise or weaken this delicately balanced system and which immunity boosters you should choose.

1. Negative thinking strikes again

There is lots of research now to show that negative thinking and a gloomy outlook can only drag you down, physically and mentally. Researchers at the Loma Linda University Medicine School have shown that humor, laughter and looking forward to pleasant events are possible ways of strengthening the immune system.

‘A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.’ –Proverbs 17:22.

2. Sleep deprivation

According to the CDC, there are close on 70 million Americans who suffer from disturbed sleep and/or poor quality sleep. When you sleep well, your body releases cytokines which not only help you get to sleep but also are protagonists when you have to fight infection.

3. Eating the wrong breakfast

If you eat breakfast with lots of fat and carbohydrates, you may well find that your body is trying to cope in digesting all this. The immune system is prevented from doing more essential tasks, such as warding off germs and viruses.

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4. Too much stress

Stress is another way to damage the immune system. There are innumerable studies which show that stress can make you much more vulnerable to all sorts of infections and disease, including cancer.

5. Loneliness

If you are feeling like Greta Garbo and prefer to remain alone, think again. A study carried out at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University found clear evidence that lonely people are more prone to inflammation, infections and earlier death.

6. Too much sugar

Of course, you need sugar but it can get out of hand. Researchers have found that the neutrophils, which are an important component in white blood cells, are actually compromised when you take too much sugar. The neutrophils are essential when fighting microbes.

7. Too many antibiotics

I know loads of patients and doctors who are using antibiotics like candy! The cytokines we mentioned above are also reduced in quantity when we start taking antibiotics for the slightest infection. The result is that the immune system is damaged and compromises your ability to fight bacteria in the future.

8. You never exercise

Just look at the statistics. People who never take a walk are twice as liable to take sick leave than those who do! Everything in moderation, of course, as overexertion can often result in you getting a cold afterwards, as many marathon runners have found.

9. You are exposed to too many toxins

In North Carolina, there is a pesticides dump in Aberdeen. Researchers have found that residents in the area are twice as likely to get shingles than non-residents. Studies show that when you are exposed to all these toxins, the immune system is definitely compromised.

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10. You are not drinking enough water

Water is essential in getting rid of various toxins. You need between 2 to 3 liters of water every day. Your immune system tends to go into overdrive if it has to neutralize all those poisons that are accumulating.

‘Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.’- W.H. Auden

12 Immunity Boosters You Should Eat

We have looked at the lifestyle errors which can erode the immune system. Now look at the 12 immunity boosters you should be including regularly in your diet.

1. Eat these to help your liver

The liver has a tough job in getting rid of all those toxins. Eat broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous veggies to help the liver function better. Your immunity will be boosted.

2. Eat ginger

Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest medicine tradition in the world (5,000 years old). According to this tradition, ginger can help to clean the lymphatic system and help the immune system as it does so. I have found that it also relieves arthritis.

3. Get more vitamin C

Most fruits contain Vitamin C but guess which one contains 5 times more than an orange? Black currants get the prize.

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4. Eat some nuts and seeds

Pumpkin seeds happen to be my favorite. They have lots of magnesium, manganese and also have zinc. Experts say that they may help to keep your immune system in top form.

5. Eat more yogurt

One Swedish study of about 3 months followed factory workers who were given some probiotic yogurt containing the Lactobacillus reuteri. These workers were taking much less sick leave (33% less) than their counterparts who were on a placebo. These friendly type of bacteria in the yogurt help to keep intestines healthy and can also boost your immune system.

6. Eat more garlic

Don’t worry about bad breath because you can take specially coated garlic capsules which will dissolve in the intestines rather than in your stomach. This will prevent any embarrassment at close quarters. Benefits of garlic are numerous and can range from managing prostate disorders to treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is at the top of the list for building up your immune system.

7. Try some chicken broth

This is much more than your grandmother’s traditional recipe. Chicken broth has a lot going for it.

Once you start cooking chicken, the cysteine amino acid is released which is really useful for treating bronchitis and flu like symptoms. Adding in garlic and onions can also increase its immune building properties.

8.  Drink more tea

Did you know that interferon in tea can help fight viruses? You will have to drink about 5 cups of black tea to get the full benefit. But, as regards immune building, there is another substance in tea which is L-theanine and you do not have to drink 5 cups!

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9. Get more vitamin A

Guess how many square feet your total skin area covers? 16 square feet! Why should we bother about our skin? The answer is that it is the first line of defence when it comes to fighting certain bacteria. The best way to keep skin in top condition is to make sure that you eat plenty of vegetables containing beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes are the best source for helping you to convert the beta-carotene into an invaluable supply of Vitamin A. Carrots, squash and pumpkin are other vegetables which can be useful for this purpose.

10. Eat more mushrooms

Most people think that mushrooms dissolve into brown liquid and have little nutritional value. How wrong they are! Opt for the reishi and shiitake types of mushrooms which can help the white blood cells to be more effective. Just by adding a handful to pasta, pizza, eggs or even a sandwich can really help boost your immune system.

11. Eat more honey

Honey has lots of antioxidants which can help boost your immunity. Babies who younger than one year are not to be given honey as their immune systems are not sufficiently developed to prevent the honey spores causing botulism.

12. Stock up on spices

Adding in rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and other spices to soups, pasta and salads can add great flavour and spice things up a bit. These are also easy and inexpensive ways of giving your immune system a boost.

Just by following these tips, you can improve your health all round. Your immune system will thank you for it!

Featured photo credit: My favourite TED talk/Steve Jurveston via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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