Want to stay healthy? Fight getting sick?
Your diet is a good place to start. Eat to fuel your immune system.
It is a 24/7 job to keep you well. The immune system wrestles with fungi, viruses and bacteria; and it battles pathogens and any foreign invaders while cleaning up cellular debris. Sounds exhausting, and, it is! That is why as we age the immune system loses its steam. We become more prone to getting ill.
Eating to fuel a strong immune system can help keep you avoid getting acutely or chronically sick. Nourish the immune system, keep it strong and your immune system will in turn take care of you. Whether maintaining or trying to regain your health, what you eat like anything else is going to be at the center of your goals.
Eat Real Food
Make sure you get your ALL vitamins, use this chart for understanding what vitamins and what quantity you need them, I am not supporting the consumption of each source of food, and http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/listing_of_vitamins. Focus on 5 main minerals (zinc, copper, selenium, manganese and iron), all types of protein but especially arginine, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/6/1681S.abstract, and glutamine, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/9/2515S.full, fat (lower Omega 3 and 6 ratio to less than 1:4) and fiber.
To help consume all these nutrients, try eating low glycemic fruits, a colorful assortment of non-starchy vegetables, protein; especially whole (The yolk has choline a precursor to phosphatidylcholine which helps repair cell damage.) eggs, turkey, seafood and grass-fed beef (contains more Omega 3 essential fatty acids than conventional beef), good sources of arginine (pumpkin/sesame seeds and almonds/cashews) and glutamine (cottage cheese and plain 2% Greek yogurt).
Drink to Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is like keeping your body running as if it were a well oiled machine. Beverages that can help detoxify and boost the immune system include:
Tea-white (anti-bacterial and viral), elderberry and green
Water with a touch of lemon
Green drinks, http://greensplus.com/index.php, any that contain sea vegetables
Practice Healthy Habits and Hygiene
Washing your hands and brushing your teeth is as important as keeping active and avoiding obesity as a study from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine found that in comparison to normal weight mice obese mice were unable to fend off flu and other types of infections, http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/apr05/beck040405.html.
Stress reduction techniques can also boost immunity.
Understand More is Not Always Better
Just because these nutrients are immune enhancing, does not mean excess amounts will be helpful. In fact, too much omega 6 fat, iron and vitamin E can have detrimental effects on your immune system. The same is true for some medications, such as antibiotics or corticosteroids.
Maintain gut acid-base balance with proper foods (vegetables) or pre/probiotic supplements.
Supplement Foods with Herbs and Spices
Use herbs and spices in cooking or use supplements to boost your immune system and even protect against aging too.
Curcumin, cloves, basil, garlic, oregano and ginger all ward of sickness and can specifically help in preventing colds and flu.
Avoid consuming products that have been shown to weaken your immune system like soda, alcohol and sugar. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published results of a study that found lowered immunity for up to 5 hours after eating 100 grams of sugar or 3 cans of soda.
Avoid foods that cause allergic or sensitivity reactions as they produce inflammation.