Ways To Strengthen The Immune System

Strengthen the immune system which protects your body by warding off attacks from disease. Antioxidants found in foods make a strong contribution to this fight.

The immune system protects the body by helping it to ward-off and recover from various diseases. While stress reduction and regular exercise are known to assist in strengthening the immune system, the types of food consumed make the largest contribution to a healthy immune system. Eating a well-balanced diet including a variety of healthful foods will boost this system's effectiveness like nothing else.

The chief destructive force that the immune system has to contend with is free radicals. Free radicals damage healthy cells by causing cell alterations (mutations) which can lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. However, certain substances present in food can destroy free radicals. These substances are called antioxidants.

One of the strongest antioxidants is vitamin C, which boosts the immune system to aggressively react on cancer cells. Diets high in this nutrient are linked to reduced risks for stomach, breast, colorectal and prostate cancers. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, green peppers, cantaloupes and broccoli Those who use tobacco products should eat even more foods containing vitamin C or take supplements since smoking deplete vitamin C reserves quicker than others.

Another important antioxidant is vitamin E. This nutrient helps to slow down the symptoms of aging and strengthen body cells that fight infection. People who eat foods rich in vitamin E or take supplements have an added weapon against bacteria and viruses. Vitamin E also helps in the fight against heart disease and cancer. Good food sources of are whole grain foods and vegetable oils. Supplements are recommended to reach the daily requirement of this vitamin. Check with your doctor on the dose.

Carotenoids are antioxidants that help to strengthen the immune system by producing lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells important to fighting infection. The best sources for carotenoids are the red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, cantaloupes, pumpkin, etc. and leafy green foods. The four important carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. All of these provide excellent protection against disease.

The immune system gains strength from minerals to synthesize proteins which make up all the cells of the body. Important minerals include: ---zinc, which increases the number of lymphocytes to fight cancers. Dietary sources of zinc are whole grains and cooked oysters

---iron, which fights infection and strengthens overall immunity. However, too much iron can be harmful and a physician should be consulted before starting a program of using iron supplements. Meats, dried beans and tofu are good sources of iron.

---selenium, which helps to increase the number of antibodies and encourages growth of immune cells. This mineral can cause damage if too much is ingested so supplements are not recommended. Food sources are fish, grains and nuts.

A low fat diet is very important for a strong immune system. Excess fat hampers the ability of the body to fight off bacteria and free radicals. Lowering fat in the diet can be accomplished by limiting the intake of fatty foods and making low fat and low calorie meal substitutions.

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