Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Six Secrets to a Strong Immune System

Six Secrets to Naturally Boost Immune System
Photo: marthavousdivaguez.com

Yep, it's Flu season alright. On my flight home from Florida a few weeks ago, it seemed as though every person on the plane had some sort of illness. Incessant coughs, sneezes, and blowing noses sounded from nearly every direction--even my own, since not even the man seated next to me had been spared from whatever virus was going around. In an effort to save myself, upon returning home I did some research, tested a few theories and eventually settled upon six of my favorite natural and scientifically-backed methods of warding off a cold and/or flu. Here's what I found...

Lemon Water Boost Immune System
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1. Lemon Water
Start each morning with lemon water. One cup of warm water combined with the juice of half a lemon works wonders for both the immune and digestive systems. Rich in free-radical fighting antioxidant Vitamin C, lemons help ward off illness as well as remove toxins from the blood and digestive tract. Lemons also contain electrolytes like potassium which stimulate brain and nerve function and help control blood pressure.

Garlic Ginger Boost Immune System
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2. Garlic & Ginger
Garlic and ginger are natural infection fighters. The anti-microbial properties of garlic enable it to fight off certain bacteria and viruses, most likely due to a particular compound called allicin, which seems to block infections.

According to Ayurvedic traditions, ginger warms the body and breaks down the accumulation of toxins in the lungs and sinuses. Ginger cleanses the lymphatic system (also known as the body's sewage system) by keeping airways and lymphatics open, which may help prevent accumulation of toxins that may increase your risk of infection.

Probiotics and Immune System
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3. Probiotics 
Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) similar to those naturally found in the human gut. These “good bacteria” prevent and alleviate a variety of conditions, particularly those related to the gastrointestinal tract. When probiotics are abundant in your body, it's more difficult for bacteria that cause illness to get a foothold. Probiotic supplements are a great way to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut and can be found at natural supermarkets like Whole Foods or purchased online. My favorite kinds are by Bio-K+ and Dr. Mercola.

Sleep Improves Immune System
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4. Sleep, Sleep and More Sleep
Studies prove sleep deprivation reduces the immune system's ability to fight infections. Not only does lack of sleep make you more susceptible to falling ill, but it can also affect how fast you recover. For optimal health, adults should get 7-8 hrs of sleep per night, teenagers: 9-10 hrs, and children: 10-18 hrs depending on age.

Alcohol Boosts Immune System
Photo: Flourishingfoodie.com
5. A Drink (or Two)
A new study suggests moderate alcohol consumption may actually boost the immune system and help it fight off infection. While excessive drinking remains harmful to the immune system, moderate consumption like a glass of wine with dinner, for example, may improve both cardiovascular function and the immune system.

Yoga for Boosting Immune System
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6. Yoga
According to a recent study, yoga was found to beneficially alter the expression of genes responsible for the activity of immune cells. Specifically, yoga increased the activity of certain genes that influence parts of the immune system, such as NK cells (natural killer cells), thereby increasing NK cell activity and other immune functions. Looks like yet another reason to take up yoga! 

Have you tried any of these methods? What immunity-boosting secrets do you swear by? 

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