Eating for a healthy Immune System
Immune System Layers
The human body has multiple means of protecting itself from disease and they are all considered part of the immune system. The skin protects from disease by being a physical barrier surrounding the organs and tissues. Saliva, tears, and mucus contain enzymes that kill bacteria. The skin and GI tract contain bacteria that perform disease-fighting functions against other bacteria and fungi. Hydrochloric acid secreted by the GI tract is a powerful anti-microbial that kills ingested pathogens. The circulatory and lymphatic systems fight disease on the cellular level. These are only a sampling of the ways the body expresses immunity.
When we think of the immune system and what it does we usually think of fighting infections. That is true but the immune system also fights other foreign invaders as well as cleaning up cellular mutations caused by disease and toxicity. The immune system is responsible for detecting, killing, and eliminating cancer cells before they proliferate and become tumors. It also cleans out heavy metals stored in deep in our tissues and organs that cause inflammation and disease. The balance of good and bad bacteria is still not fully understood but if imbalanced can lead to stomach cancer, ulcer disease, and cervical cancer.
Attacks We Can Prevent
Basically, the body has many different means by which it fights illness and they need to function at their peak at all times to keep us healthy. What we swallow, breathe, and rub onto our skin can either support these defenses or break them down. We cannot always control what we breathe, we can sometimes control what is absorbed through our skin and we can mostly control what we swallow
Enzymes From Raw Food
The food and drink we consume will either support our immunity or challenge and distract it. A good rule of thumb is to not consume anything that has an ingredient that can’t be pronounced. A whole, fresh, food diet is best. Choose fresh produce and eat as many raw vegetables a day as possible. Raw vegetables contain enzymes that the body uses for digestion and metabolism. Heating food denatures enzymes rendering them ineffective. Our bodies can make the enzymes we need but aging and illness reduce our abilities to convert and manufacture them. If we consume them in raw food it is one less thing the body has to do.
Eat at least two servings of fruit a day. Make berries, oranges, etc. your go-to snack mid morning and mid afternoon or add them to meals. Fruit is a significant source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful immune booster. It is possibly the most powerful anti-oxidant known. It attacks free radicals before they can damage DNA and cause cancer.
Beans are Good for the Heart, no kidding
Another important food that keeps the immune system functioning at it’s best is beans. They are a significant source of protein, calcium, iron, and fiber. All of which support immune health, but the fiber works in two ways. The soluble fiber sweeps toxins out of the body and cools inflammation allowing the immune system to work efficiently. So, you know the song…beans, beans, good for your heart, the more you eat the more you...editing, editing, so eat your beans for every meal. Seriously. While you are developing your taste for beans and getting in the habit of stocking them in your pantry, eat other fiber-filled vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes.
A Strong Immune System Fights Vampires Too
Garlic, onions, and ginger are also effective immune boosters. They have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Raw is best, so add them at the very end of cooking just before serving. Also, make salad dressings with them. Ginger can be steeped in hot water and enjoyed with a little lemon (vitamin C) and honey (another immune booster). Just peel and slice a little fresh ginger and put it in hot water. Let it steep for a few minutes then remove it. Try my Asian Salad Dressing recipe for a delicious way to add fresh ginger to broccoli, cabbage, kale, or any salad.
Add Variety and Quantity With Raw Juices
A good diet abundant in a wide variety of vegetables is the immune system’s best friend. If you are sick, or don’t have a hearty appetite to consume large quantities of vegetables try green smoothies or blenderizing your vegetables. My favorite trick is gazpacho, especially in late summer when the lettuce tends to get bitter. Try one of my recipes for a delicious chilled or room temperature gazpacho that helps increase your vegetable intake with every spoonful.
Green Smoothies for AM Cleansing
Green smoothies are simple to make. Rene’ Oswald, author of several raw food cookbooks recommends making a quart everyday and consuming nothing else until noon. She says that any fruit can be used and mixed with any leafy green. I tried her orange-banana-spinach and it was delicious. You only taste the orange and banana. Just throw a peeled and chopped banana and orange into the blender and add a large handful of washed spinach and some water and ice to make a quart of liquid. Try my recipe for “Blueberry Smoothie” too. It is packed with antioxidants and it very filling! If you don’t have time to do it in the morning just make it the night before and keep it in the fridge. Rene’ also recommends carrying it with you in an insulated bottle to drink throughout the morning.
These are all reasons I don’t eat meat. If my stomach is full of meat I can’t hold another vegetable. Beans are very filling. If you substitute a cup of beans where meat usually sits on your plate you will be more healthy and just as full, not to mention, richer! Beans are 10 times cheaper than meat. Also, if I’m busy thawing, tenderizing, stewing, breading, or otherwise doting on the meat, I don’t have time to wash and chop vegetables.
Support your immune system and heal your body with your food. Make sure what goes into your mouth is something your body can use to get healthier instead of taking precious energy to eliminate.
All the Best,