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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 November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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