What you should be eating to boost your immunity and the importance of a healthy digestive tract.
As the nights get shorter and the days get colder, it's time to start thinking about boosting our immunity for the long haul of fall and winter. After all, it's no fun being sick during the holidays!
Firstly, it's important to understand how your immune system functions. Your immune system is your body's natural defense mechanism from bacteria, viruses, and microbes.
Your immune system goes about protecting your body from these through 3 actions:
1. It creates a barrier against said infections
2. If the bacteria gets through the barrier, the immune system tries to identify what that bacteria is and attempts to block it from reproducing in your body.
3. If the bacteria successfully reproduce and therefore causes you to have physical symptoms, such as strep throat or a cold, it's the immune system's job to then find a way to eliminate it.
Your immune system is made up of various components inside your body that work together, some of which include your thymus, spleen, bone marrow, white blood cells, antibodies, and hormones.
By taking care of your body, getting enough rest, drinking a lot of fluids, and paying attention to what you eat, you're able to support how well your immune system functions.
In this article, we'll focus specifically on what to eat and how certain foods can help increase the chance of your immune system fighting off nasty viruses and bacteria.
These are our recommendations for the best super immune boosters to take this fall with your health in mind.
Italian food enthusiasts unite! Garlic has been known for years for its healing properties and immunity boosting capabilities. Garlic contains the active ingredient allicin that helps with bacteria and thus helps to boost your immunity.
Natural probiotics are a type of healthy bacteria that actually help keep the gut and intestinal tract clean from tenacious germs. Two 6 ounce doses a day of yogurt is recommended for the most immune boosting benefits.
Some studies have proven that oats and barley are even more beneficial than immunity-friendly echinacea. What makes them so great for boosting immunity is the beta-glucan they possess, which is a type of fiber that has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
A food that has been linked to a healthy immune system for a while now, mushrooms help to increase the production of white blood cells in your body and can even make them more aggressive against outside invaders. The kinds that have the biggest immunity boosts are shiitake, maitake, and reishi.
Crabs, lobsters, oysters, clams, and other such shellfish signal your white blood cells to produce proteins that help fight flu viruses, called cytokines. The recommended serving for the best health benefits is twice a week - unless you're pregnant.
- Cut down on the sugar
Have you ever noticed that kids tend to get sick after Halloween, Easter, and Christmas? There have been multiple studies linking the negative side effects of too much sugar, mainly it tends to decrease your natural immune responses.
- Fermented/Pickled Foods
Whether you prefer miso soup, pickles, or something in between, fermented and pickled foods add good bacteria to your digestive tract and help boost your natural defenses.
One of the more important nutrients for digestive health, zinc also helps with hormone regulation, neurological function, and of course, immune health. Shellfish, beef, lamb, beans, mushrooms, cocoa, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and nuts all have zinc.
- Ginger Root
Ginger is another diet-friendly food that has been known for its health benefits for years. It helps to improve digestion, clean the GI tract, increase antioxidant levels, and boost immunity.
This is just brushing the surface of possible foods you could add to your diet to boost your immunity, but these are some of our favorite ones that we would consider the "super" immune boosters for anyone's diet.
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- A note on digestive health and the immune system
You may have noticed a common thread with many of these foods, and that's the fact that a lot of them help with digestion. You may be surprised to learn that your digestive tract and immune system are closely tied together. Your digestive tract is actually responsible for a lot of the daily functions in your body that you're probably not aware of.
Your digestive tract relies on the abundance of "good bacteria" to function properly, but it works vice versa as well. Your immune system also relies on your digestive tract for strength and consistency.
The reason why your digestive tract is so important to your immunity is that you intake so many pathogenic organisms each day. The digestive tract has most of the innate immune responses in your body that naturally kill bacteria from saliva and stomach acid. A clean digestive tract, therefore, helps the immune system focus on and protect the rest of the body through its automatic responses.
This is why it's so important to create a well-rounded diet that includes foods that naturally help to cleanse out your digestive tract and keep it healthy - it's connected to so much of your wellbeing!
At Herbal Papaya, we offer our organic non-caffeinated papaya teas that promote healthy digestion. We also carry our papaya seed powder and liquid extract, which aids in cleansing the digestive tract.
This fall, it's time to start thinking about the key aspects of your body that do so much for your daily health - your digestive tract and immune system!