Immunity Boosting

Nobody likes getting sick, but spending five days a week in this Petri dish we call a school it’s extremely difficult to avoid picking up a bug during the dreaded cold season. Once they get a cold most people do everything possible to get rid of it, but usually not a lot of thought is put into preventing colds. It can be very easy and in some cases enjoyable to prevent these inconvenient maladies. Two ways to help boost your immune system are simply adding more of certain foods to your diet and spending a bit of relaxing time doing a sequence of yoga moves.

Black tea is both delicious and healthy. Photo: http://www.kombuchakamp.com

Probably the easiest way to build up more defenses to sickness is to eat more yogurt, oats and barley, garlic, fish, chicken soup, sweet potatoes and mushrooms as well as drinking more tea. Not only is yogurt a more guilt free alternative to ice cream, it also provides you with essential probiotics, healthy bacteria that live in your gut and intestinal tract, helping to keep you free of disease causing germs. Oats and barley contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which has antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities. This boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better. Garlic is an awesome superfood; it contains allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. Research has shown that people taking garlic extract are two thirds less likely to catch a cold, and those who partake in 6 cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams contain selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines – proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections. Most people have been given chicken soup when they were sick, and for good reason! It blocks the migration of inflammatory white cells which is important because cold symptoms are a response to the cells’ accumulation in the bronchial tubes. Its salty broth also thins mucus in the same way that cough syrups do. Tea not only warms you on early mornings and tastes delicious; black and green teas also contain an amino acid called L-theanine, which raises levels of virus-fighting interferon in your blood. Your skin is your first line of defense against infection. Sweet potatoes are a prime source of vitamin A, which plays a major role in the production of connective tissues and will help keep your skin healthier. (Frequent hand-washing during cold season is another way to strengthen this line of defense.) Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which are essential to your health. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to be the most helpful for your immune system.

One of the more advanced poses, Sirsasana (headstand). Photo: http://www.yogajournal.com

Yoga, a spiritual, mental, and physical practice originating in India, has been widely embraced by modern culture. Many people now use yoga as a form of fitness training and love how it helps them de-stress from everyday life. It can also be helpful in cold prevention as well. An article in Yoga Journal says that supported and inverted poses, specifically a particular series of moves mentioned in the article, help increase lymph circulation. Before they are filtered out via your lymph nodes, bacteria and viruses are picked up by lymph. The descriptions for the specific moves beneficial to lymph circulation can be found online at: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2695.

Yoga and dietary adjustments are just two of the many ways you can prevent catching a cold this season. Other helpful defenses include immune-boosting supplements, acupuncture, and sleep. Many of us are rather sleep deprived due to tight schedules and lots of homework, but try as hard as you can to get the recommended minimum of eight and a half hours of sleep a night. Hopefully that, and the tips found in this article, can keep colds at bay as much as possible, and have you healthy and happy this winter.

-April Martin-Hansen

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One thought on “Immunity Boosting

  1. My sweet two year old is the culprit hahaha! She always gets a flu at the kindergaten and infects her mom and mom infects me and the cycle goes on and on. A properly balanced (organic) diet is the best boost for your immune system and exercising too. Useful Post!

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