Sun, 10/04/2009 - 16:54 — Pauline Neckles

Kick Start Your Immune System

Eating fruit can help boost your immune system

The initial furore that surrounded swine flu seems to have been swept aside in favour of nonchalant rhetoric about protecting ourselves. The return of the school year has seen the negative results of complacency with a number of schoolchildren and teachers experiencing symptoms of swine flu. What could be the reason for this complacency after an initial vigour about this disease?

The key to overcoming swine flu and other diseases is to boost your immune system which is that cell mechanism in your body that helps protect you from a variety of diseases. More than just for preventing a seasonal illness, boosting your immune system is a lifestyle commitment to remaining healthy.

You may need to make adjustments to the following areas of your life to strengthen your immune system:

Diet – You need to ensure you have the correct servings of carbohydrates, protein and fat to provide a healthy body for your immune system to thrive. Carbohydrates, e.g. fruits, pastas, breads, provide the energy needed to keep your body healthy. Protein, e.g. milk, peanut butter, eggs, dried beans, meat, fish, cheeses, and yogurt, contribute the Amino Acid and healthy fats such as that in salmon or avocado that reduce any inflammatory reactions. This three pronged approach to a healthy diet provides the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that promote immune function.

Another component of the diet is to reduce the consumption of refined sugar and sweets as they drain your body of the energy and cause weight and health issues in addition to weakening the immune system.

Stress reduction – Stress suppresses the immune system and leaves you susceptible to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, among other diseases. Therefore, try to reduce this by leading a more balanced life. This can be done by incorporating meditation, rest and relaxation into your life on a daily basis. Two potent stress reducers are music and yoga, which help you to effectively integrate body, mind and soul, and leave you at peace.

Hygiene – Recent theories state that being too clean can cause one not to build up antigens against certain viruses and bacteria. However, poor hygiene can leave you exposed to germs and infections such as gastroenteritis. Therefore, it is important to wash your hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom or shaking hands.

Exercise – Moderate to regular exercise boosts the immune system. Regular exercise releases immune cells to travel through the body and fight harmful bacteria and viruses. However, be careful not to overdo it as too much exercise can have a negative effect on the immune system. Hormones such as adrenaline and cortisone suppress the immune system, which makes it easier for you to pick up an infection. A few times a week should be adequate.

Instituting a consistent structure of balance between the above four areas is a great start to strengthening your immune system for a lifetime of good health.

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