Plant Based Nutrition and Your Immune System

by Michael Corthell

Being healthy takes much more than eating an apple a day (to keep the doctor away). It has been shown that to have a healthy immune system requires a balanced diet, good daily rest, and living a positive life style.

Knowing that we need to eat the right foods is common sense but the devil, as always, is in the details. What foods are best for us? Some of our nutritional needs are specific to the individual, because of a unique make-up and lifestyle, but there are commonalities.

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The immune system protects us from illness and disease. We can do many things to keep our immune system at it's best. Drink plenty of water. Hydration is important to every system in the body, and the immune system relies heavily on water (as a vehicle) in both in lymphatic system and blood vessels.

Nutrition and exercise play a role in resisting disease for the same reason. Eating well supplies the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to work, and exercise improves the circulation of disease fighting cells and micronutrients.

There are specific foods that help boost the immune system. They help prevent disease and/or ease you through illnesses faster. Fresh and raw foods are best. They supply lots of micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep illnesses in check by supporting our body's immune response.

Here are some that stand out:

Fermented foods help the production of friendly bacteria in the body and in turn take out the less friendly ones. Try Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, activated barley, and orcus supergreens.

Oats and Barley
Containing beta-glucans, a fiber that has antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic, and antioxidant properties.

Contains allicin, which fights bacterial infections and cancer. Garlic also has beneficial effects on the circulatory system too.

Nuts and Seeds
For example Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds are a great source of selenium, which helps white blood cells produce the proteins that keep viruses in check. Pumpkin seeds provide zinc, which is important in the development of white blood cells.

Dark Chocolate
A good source of zinc that helps boost the immune system. It also releases endorphins. Endorphins help reduce STRESS.

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains a triglyceride that combats viruses, fungi, bacteria, and some parasites, especially once they’ve been digested. It also helps boost energy levels and reduces inflammation.

Curcumin, a powerful compound in turmeric, has be shown to help the body destroy many types of cancer cells. It may also kill harmful bacteria in the intestines.

Sweet Potatoes
Rich in beta carotene, a component of healthy skin when transformed into vitamin A. The skin is the first line of defense against many diseases. Vitamin A also helps T-Cells and other natural disease killing cells.

Mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, the immune boosting fiber, and selenium to increase production and activity of white blood cells. We’re just beginning to understand the many other compounds in mushrooms that bolster health.

Cabbage contains sulfur compounds that are antimicrobial. It also contains glutamine, an amino acid used by immune cells during times of stress, inflammation, and infection.

Spinach and other dark leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Spinach is a great source of folate, a B vitamin that helps repair DNA and aids the body in producing new cells.

One of the best sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C’s link to the immune system is often debated. But it is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cell damage.

Another excellent source of vitamin C. They also contain capsaicin. Capsaicin improves circulation, and can reduce pain and inflammation, and acts as an antioxidant. It has been linked to reducing the growth of some cancers.

This nutrient-dense, this celebrated food boosts immune function by way of sulfur compounds and supplies micronutrients.  

In addition to eating well, it is good to remember that all of us can live happier lives and help boost our immune systems by strengthening our social networks and decreasing stress.

Being healthy is being in a state of complete harmony of the body, the mind and the spirit. When we are free from physical and mental illness, the door of the soul opens to the entire Universe.

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Re-educate the Immune System

by Gerald T. Nepom

As Director of the Benaroya Institute at Virginia Mason and the Immune Tolerance Network, Immunologist and Biomedical Researcher Gerald Nepom, MD, PhD, has dedicated himself to understanding the moment when the body turns against itself, causing diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, and how by decoding our genes we can better relate to our immune system.