Keep your Immune system strong through wise dietary choices

You can increase your immune system’s ability to ward off colds and flus through your diet. Here are important foods/lifestyle practices to keep in (and some to keep out) of your diet.

General Dietary & Lifestyle Guidelines for Prevention

  • Eat a varied diet of fresh, whole foods. Include lots of vegetables and easily digestible proteins.
  • Minimize immune suppressors like sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods: A few grams of sugar can destroy your white blood cells’ ability to resist infections for several hours.
  • Eat for the season – root vegetables, soups and slow-cooked stews and casseroles are all favourites for the fall and winter, as are beans and lentils.
  • Eat more garlic and onions: besides being rich in antioxidants and selenium, garlic is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. They stimulate multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic are due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides.
  • Eat fermented foods or take probiotics: Your body contains 10 times more bacteria than cells. Friendly bacteria not only attack pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but also trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders. They also positively influence your mental/emotional state. It’s estimated that 80 percent of your 100 trillion bacteria are located in the gut. Fermented foods (kefir, kimchee) are great food sources. There are probiotic supplements as well, which deliver reliably high doses of multiple strains of good bacteria. Ask you ND for good quality brands of probiotics.
  • Exercise: moderate exercise, even walking a few kms or two at least three times a week, helps the lymph system cleanse impurities to boost your immune system.
  • Stress less: this should be an all-year practice. Many consider stress or anxiety as the leading cause for decreased immunity. Laugh more. Be less critical.
  • Sleep: not necessarily more, but better. Again this should be an all-year practice. Make sure that where you sleep is totally dark so your melatonin production will be sufficient.
  • Eucalyptus – put a few drops in a humidifier and keep your sleeping environment moist during the dry winter season.

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saskatchewan association of naturopathic practitioners
canadian association of naturopathic doctors