Your immune system works hard for your 24/7, 365 days per year. It doesn’t get a break or a chance to take a vacation. Are you doing what you can to support your hard working immune system?
Ever wondered how your immune system actually works and what specific foods or nutrients can strengthen it. I can tell you one thing for sure…all the Vitamin C and Echinacea in the world won’t do it alone!
Grab a cup of Green Tea and read the story of your good ol’ immune system.
The immune centers of your body are located in the tonsils, thymus, spleen, and bone marrow. These are like the army command stations housing the first line of defense soldiers ready to fight against enemy invaders (bacteria).
From these command centers the soldiers (immune cells) cruise around your body, looking for the enemy invaders. The evil enemies are foreign bodies or antigens commonly disguised as viruses, bacteria and even pollen.
When the enemy (disease) is found by your army of immune cells, the method of attack depends both on the disease and on the particular immune cell.
Phagocytes, a type of white blood cell, are the front line killers and are sent to engulf, absorb, or eat the enemy invaders. Phagocytes make the enemy disappear by consuming the dead cells and play an important roll in allowing the war wounds to heal.
Lymphocytes, second in command, attack and destroy the disease enemy by creating antibodies and tag the cell with an antigen to be attacked later should there be another enemy invasion.
After defeating a particular disease, lymphocytes will keep a profile of the enemy and remember the disease throughout your life. Should it appear again, they will quickly eliminate it.
The memory effect of immune cells is the premise behind vaccines. A vaccine injects weakened antigens into the body so your immune system can practice remembering and attacking this weakened form of defense.
Vaccines are effective because whenever the same type of enemy disease enter your body; your immune system draws upon its memory to send out second in command lymphocyte soldiers to quickly defeat it. At some point though the soldiers are replaced and the profile isn’t passed down. It’s like your immune system gets a bit of dementia and forgets about the antigen. Vaccines are not life long!
In addition to quality sleep, reducing stress levels and exercising, there are certain micronutrients that can help your army of immune fighters. Unfortunately there is not one single vitamin or mineral that will strengthen your immune system, you need to get them all, so drowning yourself in only Vitamin C this winter won’t work.
Vitamin A plays a key role in production of white blood cells, vital for fighting off infection. Vitamin A foods include carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C can help boost the immune system, particularly in endurance athletes and those undergoing physical stress. Vitamin C foods include chilies, guavas, bell peppers, broccoli, papayas, and strawberries.
Zinc, among other immune functions, is necessary for the creation and activation of lymphocytes. Zinc has also been shown to help alleviate symptoms of the common cold, and may even accelerate the time to recovery. High zinc foods include Oysters, wheat germ, sesame seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, peanuts, and dark chocolate.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D, which is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight, signals an antimicrobial response to bacteria. Foods high in vitamin D are white mushrooms, cod liver oil, fish, Oysters and eggs. Vitamin D is fat-soluble which means you need fat to absorb it.
Here is an immune boosting Salmon Recipe for you to try out. Click the link below.
Grilled Salmon with Tomatoes & Basil
Have a great week and stay healthy.
In good health,
Cheryl Wahl, RHN