Immune, nutrition | October 14, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
You first get a runny nose that may be followed by congestion and a sore throat. The next thing you know you get fever and chills, your body aches and you feel awful. Like most people, you probably have had the flu at some point in your life and you got over it in less than two weeks. But some people - such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions - are at high risk of serious flu complications.
Both the common cold and the flu (influenza) are contagious respiratory infections with similar symptoms. However, they are caused by different viruses and, typically, colds usually develop slowly, while the flu tends to come on suddenly and symptoms are worse than common cold symptoms.
The flu in Australia usually affects people during the winter months from June to September. This year it seemed to have reached a peak in mid-August, but there are still many cases reported across the country.
If you are at high risk, your doctor may recommend that you get the flu vaccination each year.
The flu viruses are highly contagious, usually spread in droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. You can also pick up the germs by touching an object or surface that has flu virus on it.
Your immune system is your natural defense. It produces white blood cells and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy foreign substances that can make you sick, such as bacteria and viruses. Diet, exercise, sleep, and psychological stress can all have effects on your immune response.
Diet. In general, poor nutrition can damage the immune system and lead to poor immune defense, whereas a healthy eating pattern, one that provides your body with a healthy balance of quality protein, fats, and carbohydrate and with a diversity of beneficial and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, is required for proper immune function and contributes to improving health.
Chicken soup. The use of chicken soup as a congestion cure dates back centuries. Research has confirmed what our grandmothers have long known – that chicken soup does help the symptoms of colds and flu. The exact ingredient or ingredients in the soup that make it effective against colds are not known, but it may be the combination of vegetables and chicken that work together to reduce inflammation.
Kiwifruit, gold. The gold variety of the kiwifruit is rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant and an immune enhancer - it stimulates neutrophils, a type of white blood cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses. Other vitamin C-rich foods include orange, capsicum, strawberries and broccoli.
Salmon. Salmon contains the anti inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce joint pain and morning stiffness in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and to contribute to brain health. Other fatty fish that are especially high in Omega-3’s include mullet, mackerel, sardines, silver perch, rainbow trout, and bream. Vegetarians can find omega-3 in plant food sources such as flaxseeds and flax oil, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil and soybean oil.
Sweet potatoes. This orange-coloured vegetable gets its colour from beta-carotene, which is an important phytonutrient because it is converted into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is crucial for the normal functioning of the immune system as well as for healthy vision and cell growth. Additional foods that are rich in vitamin A include beef liver and other orange-colour vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin. Kale, spinach and broccoli also contain relatively high amounts of vitamin A.
Yoghurt. Yoghurt is made by fermenting milk, a process in which microorganisms (such as bacteria, yeasts and moulds) or enzymes convert lactose (milk sugar) to lactic acid, which is what gives yoghurt its sour taste. Naturally fermented foods and beverages contain probiotic microorganisms. The term probiotics refers to the type of good bacteria defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. The probiotics in yoghurt were shown to stimulate the immune system.
Blueberries. Blueberries contain a number of powerful phytonutrients that give them the blue/purple colour.
These phytonutrients are natural compounds that work as antioxidants to reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, ward off cancer, and improve our memory.
Many vegetables also have a purple variety that usually contains more phytonutrients than the original. They include vegetables such as purple cabbage, purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple kale, and purple potatoes.
Garlic. Garlic has been used as medicine in many cultures. It belongs to the Allium family of vegetables, which also includes onions, scallions, shallots, leeks and chives. Allicin, a compound released when garlic is crushed or chopped, it thought to contribute to its anti-cancer, anti inflammatory, antibacterial and blood pressure-lowering effects.
Mushrooms. Mushrooms, such as Reishi, Maitake, and Shiitake, have been shown to boost immune cells and reduce inflammatory proteins in the body.
Ginger. Ginger contains many compounds that have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial, and anti-allergic activities. It is no wonder then that ginger has been used for centuries not only for culinary purposes, but also as medicine.
Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can affect your immune system and make you susceptible to infections. Some of the important immune boosters are vitamins A, C, and E, as well a vitamin D, and B vitamins such as folate, B6, and B12. Minerals include zinc, selenium, iron, and copper. Consider adding a quality multi vitamin/mineral supplement to increase your intake of immune boosting antioxidants and minerals.
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