Find Your Immune System Health Solutions Here!
Anyone who gets frequent colds or other illnesses and is concerned about their immune system should speak to a doctor. 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. Much depends on which method you use. For people trying to avoid the sugar in fruit, red bell peppers are an excellent alternative source of vitamin C. Tomatoes have lycopene, right. Same thing with men and their testosterone issue with prostate. Subscribe to our Newsletter to recieve:
Log in with your Medical News Today account to create or edit your custom homepage, catch-up on your opinions notifications and set your newsletter preferences. Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. When we wake up in the morning, many of us reach for a coffee to kick-start our day. According to the International Coffee Organization, approximately 1.
The US Food and Drug Administration FDA state that the average amount of caffeine consumed in the US is approximately mg per person per day - the equivalent to between two and four cups of coffee. This is considered to be a moderate caffeine intake, which according to many studies, can promote a variety of health benefits.
But some studies claim otherwise, even suggesting that one or two cups of coffee a day may negatively impact our health. So, what are we to believe?
We analyze the potential health benefits, as well as the negative side effects of caffeine consumption. The main ingredient in coffee is caffeine - a compound that naturally derives from over 60 different plant sources, including coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao seeds and cola nut seeds.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant by activating the central nervous system. It can combat tiredness and improve concentration and focus. According to the University of Michigan Health Service , the stimulating effects of caffeine can start as early as 15 minutes after consumption and last up to 6 hours.
Other than coffee, caffeine is commonly consumed through tea, soft drinks - particularly energy drinks - and chocolate. It is also found in some prescription and non-prescription drugs, such as cold, allergy and pain medication. As well as its stimulating effects, caffeine has been heralded for providing an array of health benefits. Last year, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that drinking between two and four cups of coffee a day may reduce suicide risk in adults , while more recent research found that ingesting mg of caffeine each day may boost long-term memory.
Other studies have also suggested that caffeine intake may protect against type 2 diabetes , Parkinson's disease , cardiovascular disease and stroke.
With so much research claiming that caffeine consumption can benefit our health, and considering the number of products that contain the stimulant, it is no wonder caffeine consumption is so widespread. Meredith, postdoctoral research fellow at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Medical News Today that, perhaps due to widespread consumption, many of us forget that caffeine is a psychoactive substance - a drug that crosses the blood-brain barrier to stimulate the central nervous system.
In fact, caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world. Moreover, the vast majority of caffeine consumers use the substance regularly without apparent harm. These factors likely contribute to the perspective that caffeine is a benign substance that everyone can use without suffering any negative consequences.
But of course, there can be negative consequences from caffeine consumption, particularly if ingested in high doses. The Mayo Clinic state that consuming more than mg of caffeine a day may lead to insomnia , nervousness, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach , a fast heartbeat and even muscle tremors.
However, previous research has linked even moderate amounts of caffeine to negative health effects. Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that consuming mg of caffeine a day during pregnancy may increase the risk of low birth weight babies , while other research suggests that drinking four cups of coffee a day may increase the risk of early death. But Meredith told us that the effects of caffeine can vary in each individual, which may explain why there are mixed messages surrounding whether caffeine is good or bad for us.
For example, he said that individuals with anxiety disorders are more susceptible to the anxiogenic effects of the compound.
In one experiment, this effect lasted as long as five hours after the sweets were consumed. Fruit sugar and honey, unfortunately, had just as negative effects as white sugar, while starchy foods had no effect at all.
A German study, reported in Nutrition and Cancer, found that the white blood cells of vegetarians were twice as effective against tumor cells as those of meat eaters. The precise reason is unknown, but may have something to do with higher levels of phytochemical-rich vegetables and fruits as well as lower levels of fats in the diet.
While this vitamin's reputation as an immune-enhancer has fluctuated over time, we do know that vitamin C boosts antibodies as well as white blood cell activity. Stress of any kind, psychological or physical, increases our need for this vitamin. 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: Mycologist Paul Stamets discovered that you can naturally multiply their levels of vitamin D by exposing them to sunlight. Vitamin D-enriched mushrooms are best made from June until September and can be dried as the high vitamin D levels generated will last for more than a year!
This is especially beneficial for people living in colder climates. Too little exercise can lead to a stagnant lymphatic system and weaken the immune system.
It is important to note that too much exercise or too vigorous exercise produces corticosteroids which can strain your body and depress immune function. Moderate exercise such as Tai Chi, Pilates, yoga, swimming and walking are good options for boosting immunity.
My personal favorite is breathwalking. This master immune booster helps immune cells mature, has an antihistamine effect, controls excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol which can suppress immunity and is antibacterial and antiviral. It works by increasing the production of antibodies and in particular, raises levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses.
Papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, brussels sprouts, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe and kale are all rich in vitamin C. A zinc deficiency affects the ability of T cells and other immune cells to function as they should. Nuts and seeds are a good vegetarian source of zinc.
An alkaline body can prevent disease and is much healthier, as illnesses and infections mainly occur in an acidic body.
There is a lot of information on this subject. Learn more about naturally improving your pH balance here. Coconut water contains high amounts lauric acid, which is one of the compounds in breast milk that aids the body in fighting infection. This medium-chain fatty acid MCFA actually disrupts the lipid membranes of offending organisms. When selecting coconuts and coconut oil, make sure you choose organic ones that are unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals, and are non-GMO.
Restricting calories may reduce levels of compounds in the body that depress your immune response. Those who cut calories by ten percent had smaller improvements. The finding is intriguing because if restricting calories boosts immunity, it may be an indication that the aging process is slowed down in people who carefully control their diets. A weakened immune response is a well-known sign of aging with T-cells becoming less effective as we grow older.
If you are serious about boosting your immunity, then adding traditionally fermented foods is essential. One of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir.
Besides kefir, other good fermented foods include natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, Greek yogurt or labneh, and olives. Propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important phenolic compounds that aid in immune response.
Please note if you have an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction to bee stings or bee products including honey , you could react to propolis in the same way. These combinations of healing essential oils covers a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity and contain properties that strengthen the immune system. Turmeric is 5 to 8 times stronger than vitamins C and E, and even strong enough to scavenge the hydroxyl radical, which is considered by some to be the most reactive of all oxidants.
Our family cooks with turmeric on a regular basis. There are different variations of this recipe.