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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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