Your body is built with an immune system that resists disease, fights infections and heals damaged cells. With viral outbreaks such as the swine flu or A(H1N1) threatening lives around the world, your best defense is a good immune support.
Ideally, your body is able to defend itself against attacks from viruses, bacteria, allergens, toxins and harmful micro-organisms. However, a poor diet, an unhealthy lifestyle and stress can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to sickness. To restore your body's immune support, you will have to make dietary and lifestyle adjustments.
Your body needs a regular amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients to function well. Most people subsist on fast-food diets and instant meals to keep up with their hectic lifestyles. While these food items may fill your stomach and stave off hunger, they cannot provide you with your body's daily nutritional needs. What you need is a diet that is high in vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids to boost your immune system. Choose foods that are good sources of:
1. Vitamin-C. Vitamin-C has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also promotes healing of wounds and hastens recovery from sickness. Fresh fruits and vegetables such as oranges, lemons, tomatoes, broccoli and green leafy vegetables contain substantial amounts of Vitamin-C.
2. Zinc. Zinc is essential for healing wounds and protecting the body during stressful conditions. It is found in oysters, clams, herring, chicken, sesame seeds, liver, whole bran and whole oatmeal.
3. Essential fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids shield your body against viral and bacterial attacks by strengthening cell membranes, which are your body's primary defense against infections. Fatty acids also play an important role in the formation of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that control the body's immune system. You can get your daily dose of Omega-3 from deep sea fishes like salmon, sardines, and tuna and Omega-6 fatty acids from organ meats and lean meats, sesame and sunflower seeds, raw nuts, legumes, spirulina and green leafy vegetables.
4. Probiotics. Good bacteria such as acidophilus, lactobacillus and bifidobacterium help boost your immune system by feeding on bad bacteria and maintaining a healthy bacteria balance in your intestine. Yogurt and fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir contain good bacteria.
If you smoke, consume alcoholic drinks regularly or take recreational drugs, you lower your body's immune system. Motivate yourself to give up smoking and drinking in favor of a healthier body. Using recreational drugs is not only illegal but it also interferes with the absorption of immune-boosting nutrients. Aside from getting rid of your vices, you should also start or maintain a regular exercise routine. Moving your body for 20 minutes or more at least three times a week is all you need to strengthen your immune system.
When you feel stressed, your body reacts by releasing stress hormones to help you deal with the demanding situation. If you are constantly under stress, your body may have excessive levels of stress hormones that suppress immunity making you susceptible to illness. While you may not always be able to avoid stress at work, at home or anywhere else, you may teach your body ways to cope with stress. Meditation, stretching and breathing exercises all help contribute to a sense of well-being.