Maintaining a Healthy Immune System - Funmbi Oo - Nutrition, Diet, Health Care, Weight Loss and more

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One way or the other, I would say that this year has been quite a wet year in Nigeria. We seem to have had more rainfalls to handle than sunshine especially in these past few weeks and months. Usually, the arrival of the rainy season comes with many things for me to look forward to; changing leaves, cool wind, crisp temperatures and layers of comfy clothing are a few of the many exciting elements. It is basically my favorite season but its entry also ushers in the beginning of flu season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2017-2018 flu season was considered one of the most severe in years, due to a high number of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits for influenza-like illness, as well as high flu-related hospitalization rates and overall widespread flu-related symptoms and activity.

By learning how to better protect your immune system, you can ensure your overall health before flu season arrives. Here are some of the signs/symptoms of poor immunity, tips for boosting the immune system and some of the best foods you can implement into your daily nutritional regimen for a healthy immune system.

Signs of a Poor Immune System
The immune system is made up of white bloods cells that are created in the bone marrow. They go on a journey through the bloodstream, with a primary objective to protect and defend against foreign invaders, such as germs and bacteria. Proteins, such as antibodies, are created in the immune system to protect against certain microorganisms and fight infection. If you have a primary immunodeficiency disorder (PIDD), however, these protective cells and proteins don't function properly or don't exist in your immune system, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. If you live with a PIDD, you are more prone to illness and disease, as repeated infections are more likely to corner the immune system, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract and more. You may also experience regular weight loss, swollen lymph glands or autoimmune disease.

But not everyone has PIDD and there are still millions of people all over the world who get the flu each year. So what's the cause? It's simple, really. Disease-ridden microorganisms flood the air all day every day, so it's no surprise that they can invade our systems so easily. It's all about making moves to ensure your immunity is properly protected to keep these invaders from attacking. Poor hygiene, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating are a few habits that can lead to illness, causing you to feel lethargic and resulting in fatigue, headache, chills and body aches – all signs of the flu.

How to Maintain a Healthy Immune System
Boosting your immunity is easier than you think. With the right adjustments to your lifestyle and everyday habits, you can keep your body in top shape, strong enough to protect against germs and viruses that fill our air especially during the flu season. Consider some tips below for maintaining a healthy immune system:

  1. Minimize your stress levels.
They say stress is the silent killer, and with good reason. When you're overly anxious, stressed or depressed, your hormones weaken the immune system and even impair the function of your digestive system. Since your immunity is especially vulnerable during flu season, start dedicating more time to relaxing and finding more ways to minimize your stress to avoid illness.
  1. Prioritize healthy hygiene habits.
Germs are located just about everywhere you could imagine. Since bacteria are unavoidable, it's important to practice healthy hygiene. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth and wash your hands throughout the day – especially after sneezing, using the restroom or handling food and garbage.
  1. Stay hydrated.
All major systems in your body – immunity included – are impaired when you're dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and eat raw fruits and vegetables to ensure you're properly hydrated all day.
  1. Exercise regularly.
Your body thrives when it's strong. Not only does exercise help you maintain a healthy weight and strengthen your muscles, it also reduces stress levels, improves quality of sleep and rids your body of toxins that can wreak havoc on the immune system. Spend at least two and a half hours every week dedicated to physical activity – that's just 30 minutes a day to improve your overall wellness.
  1. Get enough sleep each night.
Your body relies on you to give it an adequate amount of rest each night to power through the following day. With enough sleep, you're encouraging cellular repair and helping your immune system restore for the future.
  1. Follow a healthy diet.
The power of a healthy diet is insurmountable. Processed foods and refined sugars have the ability to completely break down the immune system, so ditch the unhealthy options and opt for a more natural, organic way of eating. The right blend of vitamins and minerals can give your body all of the fuel it needs to thrive, repair and restore over time.

Best Foods for Immunity

As mentioned earlier, a healthy wholesome diet, consisting of non-processed/organic food items, provides your body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals that help protect against foreign invaders. The following foods are especially beneficial for your immunity:
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are rich in carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamins C and E, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
  • Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. I have personally had an amazing experience using ginger as a relief from flu. You can read more on how that worked here. Ginger helps to decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throatand other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea. While it's used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of capsaicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal research.
  • Did you know that Red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits? They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy. This vitamin is also found in large amount in broccoli. Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.
  • Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, when digested.
  • Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that has immune-boosting powers.
  • Green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green teareally excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.
With the right lifestyle habits, dietary choices and supplement regimen, you can keep your immune system in top shape all year round. Take a step on the path to better health today by making smart adjustments to your everyday habits and take advantage of the raw, natural tools God gave us to build and restore our bodies.

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