Food that boost your immune system
Many people come to the macrobiotic consultation complaining of being always sick… maybe a cold, cough, fever, etc. “It seems I catch everything around me” they comment. Does macrobiotic have a response for these people? Can we boost our body’s defences with food?
There are foods that boost our defences, but there are foods that reduce them too. What sense would it make to eat foods that increase our defences if we continue having those that reduce them? For that reason I will first discuss what kind of food should be avoided, and then enumerate a list of which should be increased.
FOOD THAT WEAKEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Sugar: thanks to scientific experiments we know that sugar ingestion can lead to a reduction of the activity of the immune system. The effect can last for several hours in which viruses, bacteria and other pathogens can act as they want.
Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to a lack of nutrients, prevents white blood cells from multiplying and make macrophages not able to work.
Food you are allergic to: they can be food with gluten, soy, nuts, lactose… different things depending on the case. Eating foods that you are allergic to force the immune system to fight the allergen -thinking it’s an odd substance- subtracting energy to fight against other agents such as viruses and bacteria.
Additives and chemical preservatives. An example of such substances is Tartrazine E-102 or food colouring, which may cause allergic reactions. It is also associated with hyperactive syndrome in children.
FOOD THAT BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Miso soup: contains probiotic substances to promote good bacterial flora in the intestines, where 80% of our immune system is. Therefore, taking care of our intestines is taking care of our defensive line. It is assumed then that if you want a strong immune system, it would be desirable to avoid indigestion.
Garlic: contains antibacterial substances that fight germs and toxins. Garlic enhances the activity of white blood cells and T cells. To make the most of their properties we recommend you to smash it and leave it for 1-2 minutes, thus the substances responsible for its beneficial effects are released (allicin).
Vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and enough calories. Given the lack of nutrients and / or calories our immune system will suffer. Therefore we recommend a diet rich in grains, vegetables, legumes … and be sure that the amount of calories is not too low.
Water will provide a body free of toxins, because we need water to eliminate them. As a general rule it would be advisable to take between 6 and 8 glasses a day. Its use will also depend on the weather, activity or exercise that we make and type of food we eat. Diets rich in cereals, legumes and vegetables require less water than other based on dense foods loaded in fat and / or sugar.
Aromatic plants. Herbs have always been used in Mediterranean cooking. New properties of these plants, which favour the activity of the immune system, are discovered everyday. Introduce oregano, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, fennel, ginger, pepper and cinnamon in your kitchen.
Mushrooms and seaweeds. There are substances that stimulate the immune system. The most potent substances found to date that stimulate the immune system are the beta-glucans. Do you know where they were taken to be analysed and check their effects? In seaweed and mushrooms! Therefore, we can access these powerful substances including in our diet, for example, wakame, nori or arame seaweed or, reishi, shitake and maitake mushroom.
Superfoods. There are a number of foods called superfoods due to their high content of health beneficial substances. These foods help to offset the effects of a conventional diet rich in sugars, fats and low in grains and vegetables. Chlorella, blueberries, wheat grass, barley grass and spirulina are suitable for improving the immune system.
Certain plants stimulate our immune system as well: cat’s claw, echinacea and sabal. You find them at health food stores, herbalists and pharmacies in some cases. Extracts drops usually work very well.
Apart from what we eat there are other elements that affect our immune system: sleeping enough, controlling the stress and doing moderate exercise.
Take this into account to spend a safe winter!