What do you think of when you hear about the immune system? I visualize the immune system as an army fighting to protect the body from alien invaders. But understanding the intricacies of the system is a little more complex. The truth is the immune system is a whole system of organs that work together to keep you healthy, http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/immunity/immune-detail.html. So if you are trying to dodge the getting sick “bullet” know that you must keep the whole system of organs in good condition.
What is important to know from a nutritional standpoint is:
- “One of the more damaging food components to our immune system is sugar. In one study, the ingestion of 100 gram (roughly 3-1/2 ounces) portions of carbohydrate as glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, and pasteurized orange juice all significantly reduced the ability of white blood cells (neutrophils) to engulf and destroy bacteria. In contrast, the ingestion of 100 grams of starch had no effect. These effects started within less than 30 minutes after ingestion and lasted for over 5 hours. Typically, there was at least a 50% reduction in neutrophil activity two hours after ingestion. Since neutrophils constitute 60-to-70% of the total circulating white blood cells, impairment of their activity leads to depressed immunity”, http://doctormurray.com/health-conditions/low-immune-function/.
- Proteins are an intricate part of the immune system aiding in the creation of antibodies, helping to strengthen cell walls and manufacture interferons (protein produced by the immune system in response to an infection).Eat adequate protein to help support this function.
Last week’s blog, “Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm”, http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/beat-the-battle-of-the-perfect-sick-storm-skin-deep-part-1/, started this series and discussed the role of the skin as part of the immune system. Internally, it is the lymph system (spleen, thymus, lymph nodes containing lymphocytes which are white blood cells, gut and bone marrow) that protects you from getting sick and these organs will be addressed next.
Starting with the spleen (an organ you do not hear much about even though it is very important to the body’s defense system); it is small, about the size of your fist, located in your stomach under the rib cage and above the kidney. The spleen is part of the lymph system (a network of organs that make up the immune system). It filters germs such as viruses, bacteria abnormal cells from the blood. When an invader is detected your spleen and lymph nodes, jump into action creating lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that produce antibodies in order to fend off infections.
Support Spleen Function:
- Eat small frequent meals consisting of warm foods and beverages like tea, soup and stews.
- Use herbs, spices and supplements: ginger (contains the enzyme zingibain an enzyme that can help strengthen the immune system), maitake mushrooms (or supplement with maitake D-fraction), black and chili pepper, basil, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, cardamom and cinnamon.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests consuming onions, leeks, fennel and garlic to “help increase the body’s digestive fire”.
- 4. Select protein that may help to cleanse the spleen like fatty fish (salmon, sardines, halibut), beef, chicken, turkey or lamb.
- Beta carotene rich foods can also help give your immune system a boost: tomatoes, carrots, squash, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, pumpkin and peppers.
Three down: the skin, the spleen and the lymph; next week completes the immune series with the thymus, bone marrow and gut.