Scientists believe that allicin may block enzymes involved in infections; some studies suggest that swallowing garlic may ward off colds. The contents of this website are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Lemon Juice and Bi-Carb — the 2 combined work wonders for stains on both food surfaces — on your hands and in your mouth! Vitamin C has a reputation for being a feel-good nutrient, so it will come as no surprise that this list is full of foods with high levels of it. Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Attitude - the cells of the body derive hope and motivation from the mind
Sleep and Immunity: Understanding the Link
When you think vitamin C, think more than orange juice. You may be surprised to learn that broccoli contains three times as much vitamin C as citrus. Even potatoes are packed with this helpful nutrient.
Shiitake mushrooms appear to be powerful immune stimulants. They contain an antiviral substance that boosts T-cells and macrophages, large cells that engulf and destroy foreign particles. This beefy mushroom is becoming more readily available in many supermarkets as demand for it increases. Several studies indicate that the "fragrant bulb" does as much for our immune systems as it does for our taste buds. It appears to increase not only the numbers of natural killer cells but also their potency.
T-cells, as well, are stimulated by garlic intake. This mineral positively affects many immune mechanisms, from the thymus to antibodies to T-cells. An Italian study found that small amounts of zinc quickly raised blood levels of T-cells in elderly people to those usually seen in much younger people. Since borderline zinc deficiencies are quite common, it's important to eat plenty of legumes such as black-eyed peas and pinto beans, and adequate amounts of whole grain breads; the yeast helps make the zinc available.
Pumpkin and squash seeds are particularly rich in zinc, and make a delicious snack. Although beta carotene is best known in the huge carotenoid family, there is evidence that many members of this antioxidant group are helpful to our immune systems. Studies indicate that a high intake of carotenoid-rich foods orange-colored vegetables and fruits, in particular increase T-cells, natural killer cells, and antibody response.
Pumpkins and winter squashes, as well as carrots, peaches, and cantaloupe, are especially good sources, though many green vegetables are also rich in carotenoids. Several herbs have extensive folk histories that indicate they can help us fight a variety of diseases. And, in the last few decades, laboratory studies have shown that indeed many of these herbs contain substances that work specifically to boost the immune system in various ways.
Echinacea purple coneflower is perhaps the best known of the Western immune-stimulating herbs. This attractive perennial grows in many cultivated gardens, but was originally a wildflower commonly found in the Midwest. Native Americans used echinacea for anything from blood purification to snake bite. Laboratory studies show echinacea to enhance the immune system through several mechanisms, most notably through activating T-cells and increasing virus-fighting interferon.
It's particularly helpful with yeast and ear infections, and the common cold. This pungent root stimulates the production of interferon, besides aiding with nausea and being just plain delicious. Grate some into vegetables, or treat yourself to small pieces of the candied root. Licorice has been used for thousands of years, in Eastern as well as Western cultures, by people wishing to benefit from its medicinal properties.
It's particularly helpful in fighting viruses such as influenza and herpes. If you like your licorice sweet, read labels when buying licorice candy. Many of those tasty black twists are flavored with anise rather than the real thing.
And a word of warning: Approximately 50 million people in the U. Some people are even at risk of dying from severe allergic reactions to various substances that are benign or only slightly irritating to most people. Even when allergy symptoms like hives, sneezing and migraine are not life-threatening and thankfully, they usually are not , they can certainly affect our ability to enjoy life.
Health professionals often disagree about the precise definition of what constitutes an allergy. Some call any sensitivity reaction an allergy, while others claim that only reactions involving a specific antibody called IgE are true allergies. And there are many opinions in between these definitions.
In general, it is agreed that an allergic reaction is one that involves the immune system in varying ways. The immune system is designed to attack threats to the body such as bacteria and viruses. In the case of allergy, the immune system reacts to a harmless substance as though it were a threat.
It mobilizes antibodies which attach themselves to the allergen as well as to basophils and mast cells -- defensive cells packed with histamine. The combination is explosive: Symptoms can appear virtually anywhere in the body; a skin rash may be the result of poison ivy or something you ate.
Sneezing, and itchy eyes. Eczema and other rashes. Bloating, diarrhea, headaches, usually from food sensitivities. Anaphylactic shock, a rare but severe allergic reaction that can lead to death. The most common triggers are peanuts, shellfish, bee stings, and penicillin. The tendency to have allergies is probably genetically determined. Whether or not the genetic tendency lives itself out or not is dependent on many factors that are little understood at this time.
But even if we are allergy-prone, there are things we can do to help lessen the symptoms: To help reduce the sneezes and itchy eyes of hay fever at night, keep bedroom windows closed if possible.
Units that filter the air are readily available; look for one containing a HEPA filter, excellent for removing allergens of all types from the air. Quercetin , a natural phytochemical in many foods, appears to dampen allergic responses by inhibiting the release of histamine. Red grapes, yellow squash, shallots and broccoli are good sources. Onions contain diphenyl-thiosulfinate, a natural chemical that has a very high anti-inflammatory activity. And onions also contain large amounts of quercetin.
While we're unlikely to want to drink onion juice, a few raw slices of pungent onion on our salads may be a good idea. Vitamin C also works to tamp down inflammatory responses in the body. The American Journal of Epidemiology reports that adults eating the most vitamin C-rich foods had far fewer asthmatic attacks than those eating little of these foods. Drink a glass of orange juice for breakfast, and eat several slices of red peppers with your lunch and a cup of broccoli with dinner to provide a vitamin C boost to your body.
A new British study found that children eating an all- Asian diet had far fewer allergic symptoms than their schoolmates eating a typical Western diet. Many people suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, commonly to milk, wheat, peanuts and soy, although almost any food can trigger symptoms in certain people. Food allergies like all allergies involve an over-reactivity of the immune system.
Antibodies that are designed to protect us from disease for various reasons can react against proteins in foods, causing injury to our tissues and symptoms of food allergy such as bloating, headaches, hives and diarrhea. Of course, unlike inhaled allergens such as ragweed or tree pollen, food allergens enter the body through the intestinal tract.
The gut is ordinarily lined with an antibody called IgA, which helps attack food allergens that inappropriately "leak" across the mucosal surfaces of the intestine and cause trouble.
Trans-fatty acids, found in all hydrogenated oils, appear to encourage this destructive permeability of the intestine. People with food sensitivities have unusually low levels of IgA in their blood. And stress, besides its many effects on the immune system, can decrease the amount of IgA. This may help explain why allergies are often worse during high-stress periods.
The good news is that there are easy, actionable steps you can take every day to protect yourself from getting sick. One is to avoid anyone who might have been infected, and to steer clear of crowded places with poor ventilation, especially during cold and flu season. Another is frequent hand-washing, preferably with soap and water. The flu lasts one to two weeks , but can linger much longer.
If you feel the flu coming on, stay home from work and avoid close contact with others. The best way to avoid getting sick this season — and always — is to strengthen your immune system and practice preventive care to stay healthy. Strengthen Your Gut The microbes that live in your gut not only help your body digest food — they also help regulate your metabolism, hunger, weight, and immune system.
Avoid Processed Foods Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as vegetables and fruits, will boost your overall health and help protect you from the flu and other viruses and infections all year. Studies show that zinc , which can be found in foods including pumpkin seeds, spinach, oysters, nuts, and beans, can help shorten the duration of a cold by a few days. If you feel a cold coming on, supplement a healthy diet with 25 mg of zinc per day on a short-term basis, he advises.
Research shows that people who exercise in moderation report fewer colds. Carry Lavender Oil for a Natural Hand Sanitizer These days, many household products, including hand sanitizers, contain triclosan , which studies have shown can cause hormone disruption in animals.
While the jury is still out, Lipman says the old-fashioned rule of washing your hands frequently with soap and water is more effective. Lavender oil is also great for soothing dry, cracked skin during harsh weather conditions.
Keep Surfaces Clean One of the easiest ways to contract the flu virus is touching contaminated objects and then putting your fingers near your mouth and eyes. Some contamination hot spots are phones, computers, and desks. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that have been shown to help treat psoriasis , nail fungus, and acne, but Lipman says your can also use it as a cleaner.