Around 6 years ago, I woke up one morning feeling extremely dizzy. It was quite unusual as I wasn’t able to stand as well. My mom checked me for fever. The body temperature was high, my stomach was hurting terribly and I realized that I was really sick!
When we visited a doctor, he suggested a blood test. When the investigation reports were out, it was confirmed that I had Typhoid. It was a relapse. Just two months ago I had recovered from the same disease. The relapse of Typhoid was occurring every three to four months for almost a year. Finally, the doctor concluded this was happening because of eating junk food and the lifestyle I was leading.
To an extent, it was true. I was lax on eating healthy food and that was one of the reasons why my immunity levels were low and I kept falling sick time and time again. The moment I was cured through medication for my illness, I would get on the unhealthy food path.
What Is Immunity?
As the old adage goes, ‘Prevention is better than Cure’. Build a good immune system to prevent disease. The Immune system is an amazing protection mechanism situated inside every human body. It is designed to defend you against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites that love to invade the body. To understand the power of the immune system, all that one needs to do is to look at what happens to a living being when it dies. This might sound gross but it does tell us all something very important about our immune system.
When something dies, its immune system (along with everything else) shuts down. In a matter of hours, the body is invaded by all sorts of bacteria, microbes, and parasites. None of these things are able to get in when the immune system is strong, but the moment the immune system stops, the door is wide open for diseases to breed. Once you die, it only takes a few weeks for these organisms to completely dismantle your body and carry it away, until all that’s left is a skeleton. So safely, one can conclude that a strong immune system keeps all of that dismantling from happening when one is alive.
The immune system is complex, intricate and interesting. And there are at least two good reasons for every individual to know more about it. First, it is just plain fascinating to understand where things like fever, hives, inflammation, etc. come from when they happen inside your own body. You also hear a lot about the immune system in the news as new parts of it are understood and new drugs come in the market — knowing about the immune system makes these news stories understandable.
Now that we have understood what the Immune System is, I would like to take you through how the immune system works and how the immune system can be boosted with a proper diet.
It takes at least more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. One should ensure that your body and the immune system function smoothly by rounding out your food plate with plenty of colorful servings of fruits and veggies, plus 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, at the very least. The following ingredients can add extra flu-fighting punch to your meal plan.
Probiotics, or the “live active cultures” found in Yogurts are the healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs, although they’re available in supplement form. A study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7 ounce dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping pills.
Your optimal dose: two 6-ounce servings a day
2. Oats and Barley
These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea, reports a Norwegian study. When animals eat this compound, they’re less likely to contract influenza, herpes, even anthrax; in humans, it boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.
Your optimal dose: At least one in your three daily servings of whole grains.
This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient Allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who chew more than six cloves a week have a 30 percent lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50 percent lower rate of stomach cancer.
Your optimal dose: Two raw cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.
People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, according to a Harvard study. The amino acid that’s responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it, too.
Your optimal dose: Several cups daily. To get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew.
Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
Your optimal dose: Two servings a week (unless you’re pregnant or planning to be).
For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. According to experts and several studies, mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection.
Your optimal dose: Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch; experts recommend at least ¼ ounce to an ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits. Add a handful to pasta sauce, or sauté with a little oil and add to eggs
Zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutritional shortfalls among most adults, especially for vegetarians and those who’ve cut back on beef, a prime source of this immunity-bolstering mineral. And that’s unfortunate, because even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. Zinc in your diet is very important for the development of white blood cells, the intrepid immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria, viruses, and assorted other bad invaders
Your optimal dose: A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides about 30 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for zinc. That’s often enough to make the difference between deficient and sufficient. Not a beef person? Try zinc-rich oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt, or milk.
The above foods have proven to have boosted individuals’ immune system and produce more white cells in the body. Eat healthy and build your immune system. It will help you fight against all illnesses. So what are you waiting for? Get on the path of healthy eating and keep your immune system active and more energetic than ever.