Maintaining health and a perpetual state of wellbeing is an ideal that many people strive to achieve daily. In essence, we all desire to feel good and have our bodies function properly at optimal levels. The system in charge of keeping the human body healthy, regulated and feeling good is called the immune system. By definition, the immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. These are primarily microbes—tiny organisms such as bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can cause infections.1 When our immune system is under attack, we may feel anywhere from mildly under the weather to needing to be admitted to the hospital. Hence, protecting the integrity of our immune system is important business.
In most cases, humans are born with healthy immune systems. Having a healthy immune system insures that our body is able to effectively defend itself from intruders like toxins, parasites, bacteria and diseases that mean it harm. But, the daily consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD), higher stress levels, decreasing sleep and rest periods, dehydration and higher concentrations of environmental and product-related toxins and pollutants eventually take a toll on the human immune system. And a threatened, weakened or deficient immune system is a recipe for dis-ease and disease.
When the human immune system is weakened or deficient there are a few characteristic, telltale signs. For one, if you are constantly sick or easily prone to catching colds and viruses like influenza, you may have a weak immune system. Beyond this, answering YES to any of the following questions may also provide clues that confirm the status of a deficient or weakened immune system.
Nutrient-rich, plant-based diets work wonders on weakened immune systems. In fact, most doctors will recommend eating more fruits and vegetables as a means to kickstart a deficient immune system. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals are great for the immune system. Here are a few to consider.
Citrus: Fruits like grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes and clementines are packed with Vitamin C. Research shows that Vitamin C increases the production of white bold cells, which fight off infections.
Garlic: According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, garlic may help lower blood pressure and slow down the hardening of arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties, specifically allicin, is said to improve immune cells’ ability to fight off colds and the flu.
Berries: Berries contain polyphenols, a group of beneficial plant compounds with antimicrobial properties. They also contain Vitamin C, which amplifies their immune-booting qualities. Berries have been known to defend against influenza, Staphylococcus, E. coli and Salmonella infections.
Mushrooms: Shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans (complex carbohydrates) that enhance immune activity against infections and cancer and reduce allergies (cases of inappropriate immune system activity).
Coconuts & Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which converts in the human body to monolaurin. Monolaurin is the actual compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immunity.
Chlorella: Chlorella is a single-cell freshwater algae that acts as an efficient detoxification agent by binding to toxins, such as mercury, and carries them out of your system. But more importantly, the chlorophyll in chlorella makes it powerful. Chlorophyll helps the human body process more oxygen, cleanse blood and promotes the growth and repair of tissues.
Sedentary lifestyles have attributed to a number of health ailments. The same can be said about inactivity as it relates to and/or can lead to a deficient immune system. It is important to get your body moving because regular exercise and activity improves overall health. Scheduling at least 30-45 minutes of activity every day will improve the functionality of a weakened immune system. Regular activity can also combat obesity, depression, insomnia and other conditions that lead to immune system deficiencies.
Stress and lack of proper sleep and rest can lead to a strained and/or weakened immune system. Locate healthy and natural alternatives to stress like meditation, journaling and exercise that can better promote a peaceful state of mind and being. It is important to get at least seven hours of sleep nightly. This will insure that your body has the proper time to reset and recalibrate itself and its intricate systems.