As we head into cooler temperatures new viruses and influenza strains emerge causing cold and flu which leave you feeling like you have been hit by a train! Over the next few blog posts we will go over ways to boost your natural immune system to help the body fight off these unwanted pests.
Foods that Boost
1) Lemons Contain citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C (they contain 88% of Vitamin C allowance in 100 grams based on a 2000 calorie diet!), bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene; these elements have each been proven to promote immunity and fight infection. The low pH value of lemons make them antibacterial as well! An important note here is that lemons help to neutralize the acid level in the body. An acidic body is a ripe environment for infection. 2) Garlic The university of Maryland Medical Centre has done extensive research on garlic; a powerful natural antibiotic, due to the active ingredient allicin. Not only is garlic a great antibiotic that does not create resistance in bacterium but it also provides an immune system boost that is still being researched. Even though the mechanism of action has not yet been discovered the effects are well documented.
In one study, people took either garlic supplements or placebo for 12 weeks during “cold season” between November and February. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than those who took placebo. Plus, when they did get a cold, the people taking garlic saw their symptoms go away faster than those who took placebo.
Garlic has been shown to strengthen the immune system, helping the body fight diseases such as cancer. In test tubes, garlic seems to kill cancer cells.
In population studies (follow groups of people over time) suggest that people who eat more raw or cooked garlic are less likely to get colon and stomach cancers or cancer of the esophagus. A review of 7 different studies found a 30% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer among people who ate a lot of raw or cooked garlic. Garlic supplements don’t seem to have the same effect.
(Source: Garlic | University of Maryland Medical Center)
3) Onions – come from the same family as garlic and include the active ingredient allicin. Onions contain phenolics and flavonoids which have been shown to have anti-viral and antioxidant properties. 4) Carrots and other bright orange vegetables contain high levels of beta-carotene which is used by the respiratory system to stay vigilant in its entrapment of foreign bodies. Carrots can also have a positive
5) Ginger – the benefits of ginger are too numerous to list! We need an entire lecture to touch the surface! Of key note is the anti-viral, anti-microbe and anti-bacterial properties ginger provides to the body.
Ginger also increases circulation of blood which we know goes a long way to help rid the body of unwanted visitors.
Recent research reported in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology show that ginger prevents viruses from attaching to upper respiratory tract cells: thereby inhibiting the reproduction of the virus. This action also makes it a great decongestant!
Foods that Deplete Sugar prevents the autoimmune response of neutrophils. In a 1973 study a group of people were given 100 mg of varying types of sugar after fasting overnight. Their blood was then drawn and subjected to a common bacterium. The neutrophil count remained the same however there was a slowdown of reaction time, allowing the bacterium to spread. The longer the fasting period the slower the response time of white blood cells.
Newer and extended research has to be done, what’s important to remember is that sugar suppresses immune response in bodies that are lacking in adequate nutrition and hydration. (ie in test subjects the act of fasting)
In modern times we are actively starving ourselves when we eat processed foods that lack nutrients. We may feel full but the body is starved at a cellular level. This is why sugar has become such a concern. Some people make sugar out to be the ultimate Bad Guy. This is entirely not true. The key here is moderation and education! Refined white sugar, refined sugar in any form is BAD!! Natural sugars as taken in non-chemical extraction can have health benefits. In fact the body cannot survive without glucose as it the sole energy source used to fuel every function. Take the noble sugar cane for instance: it is high in fibre, potassium and calcium! Of course this is the entire cane raw.
We need to remember this; any food that is separated becomes bad. The refinement process removes the nutrients and isolates the glucose or any other element. When an element is isolated and removed it becomes harder for the body to process. Example calcium alone cannot be absorbed by the body it needs vitamin D, citric acid, phosphorus, to name a few, for optimal absorption.
Preservatives – there are many reasons to avoid artificial foods additives, immune suppression is just one! But an important one during cold and flu season. Preservatives are toxic and tumour-causing. Most impact the nervous system, changing behaviour. Some have an impact on reproductive health or weaken the immune system. Each one has its own effects on our health, there are too many to discuss in this series. Important to note that they are man-made. i.e. not natural! Anything not produced by nature has no right in the human body if you have any intention of having a healthy system overall.
Artificial sweeteners – all the same reasons as sugar and preservatives!
Microwaves – yes microwaves! I realize they are not food however too often they are used to cook our food. The process of cooking with radiation breaks down key nutrients. Water soluble vitamins such as C and B have very delicate bonds that are easily broken down. These are the first ones to be depleted in the microwave. We can include deep frying under this category! Any act that dries foods will break down water soluble nutrients. The difference with microwaves is that radiation not only breaks down bonds but also alters the composition of nutrients.
Radiation can change the basic structure of any natural element. It can and does create free radicals which are highly reactive elements. When they react in the body they create more and more free radicals (a chain reaction) if this reaction becomes excessive damage is caused in the form of cancer, premature aging, immune system suppression, heart disease… Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals.
When food is cooked in this manner not only are we breaking down key nutrients and antioxidants but we are altering their electrical makeup to become free radicals. We are literally starving our cells and damaging them at the same time!
Immune Boosting Drink Juice 3 or 4 whole lemons, a 3 inch piece of ginger, and 1 bud of garlic. YUMMM! Add 2-4 tablespoons of this mixture to a full glass of water daily through cold and flu season! For a sore throat use warm water.
During allergy season combine this mixture with a teaspoon of local, unpasteurized honey to create immunity to local pollen and boost the immune system at the same time! (note: never give children under 2 honey or use while pregnant or breastfeeding)
For added benefits juice 2 carrots add the 2 tablespoons lemon mixture and fill the glass with water. This variation tastes better too!