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The Immune System

The celebration of the holiday season is past. The thrill of the first snowfall is a memory. We are now in Februaryóthe cold heart of winter. We stay indoors more, and some of us become a little depressed. We are looking forward to spring.

These are dangerous times for our health. Staying indoors in close contact with others, less social contact, and winter depression can all make us more vulnerable to catching colds and other passing bugs. Itís time to think about protecting our cells.

Protecting our cells is nothing more than aiding our immune systems. This system, a miracle of our body, works to keep us well. Our immune system fights off colds and flus and sees that we recover quickly for illness. It is also the immune system that fights off serious problems such as cancer.

Luckily, our immune system can be helped through simple lifestyle choices, and one of the easiest things we can do to bolster our disease-fighting system is watch what we eat and supplement wisely.


What diet choices enhance the immune system? Keep the both general and specific ideas in mind while planning your menu.

  • Eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables.
    These foods contain important vitamins and minerals as well as phytochemicals, which are substances found in plants that have health-giving effects.

    Eat complex carbohydrates such as grains and legumes.
    This results in longer-lasting energy. If you do not consume enough complex carbohydrates, your body will draw on protein to create energy, robbing your immune system of a valuable nutrient.

    Eat foods high in fiber.
    Fiber helps keep our digestive tract "clean," which prevents toxins from building up. Toxins spur health problems. Keeping a healthy digestive tract means less work for the immune system.

    Eat before or during times of stress.
    Stress robs us of nutrients, so it is important to get more of them. We donít want the immune system going hungry!

    Eat less fat and less white sugar.
    High-fat diets are linked to increased incidences of cancer. Sweets suppress the immune system.

    Eat foods high in beta carotene.
    Beta carotene is a proven immune booster. Articles in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition note that it is beneficial for those with compromised immune systems (June 1996) and that it increases the activity of an important part of the immune system, natural killer cells, in elderly men (November 1996, July 1998).

    Eat foods high in vitamin C and zinc.
    Vitamin C and zinc both help the body create T cells, which are important components of the immune system.


Certain phytochemicals are more easily found through supplementation than foods. During cold season, or when your immunity needs a boost, it can be helpful to use them.

  • Grape seed and pine bark extracts contain powerful antioxidants known as proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyanidins boost the immune system, as well as providing cardiovascular benefits.

    Colloidal silver was used in the past to fight viruses and bacteria. Although there is no clinical proof of this type of activity, many users and health professionals contend it is an excellent immune system booster.

    Garlic has been known for centuries as an immune booster. One species that is difficult to get as a food, Allium ursinum (known as alpine wild garlic), is a potent antioxidant and may also boost immunity.

    Green juices contain a wide-range of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Giving our body a balanced and natural supply of nutrients is important, because the immune system is varied and needs many different nutrients.
This article is reproduced from Partner's Magazine with the permission of AIM International

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