Sufferers of CFS and FM have compromised immune systems. It is important that we are doing whatever we can to boost our immunity. Adequately feeding your immune system will increase its fighting power. Here are the top nine ingredients to add to your diet:
1. Vitamin C – Research shows that Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies. Vitamin C reduces the risk of heart disease and by raising HDL, or good, cholesterol. Research shows that around 200 milligrams a day to be the amount needed and can be obtained by eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Vitamin C supplements can also be taken, but it is best and more beneficial to get your Vitamin C source from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. The top Vitamin C containing foods are:
|Fruit||Calories||Milligrams of Vitamin C|
|1. Guava, 1 medium||46||165|
|2. Papaya, 1 cup, cubed||55||87|
|3. Strawberries, 1 cup||45||84|
|4. Kiwi, 1 medium||46||74|
|5. Cantaloupe, 1 cup||56||68|
|6. Orange, 1 medium||60||75|
|7. Grapefruit, half||39||42|
2. Vitamin E – Vitamin E stimulates production of natural killer cells – those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E also enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. We should be consuming between 100 – 400 mg. per day. We can generally get about 30 – 60 mg. a day of Vitamin E by eating seeds, vegetable oils, and grains. Supplements will be necessary to obtain the appropriate amount. People who do not exercise, smoke, drink, have a poor diet will need higher amounts of Vitamin E than others.
3. Carotenoids – Beta Carotene increases the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells and T-cells. It is also a powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals that accelerate aging. Beta Carotene also protects against cancer by stimulating the immune cells. Research has also shown that Beta Carotene supplements can increase the production of T-cells lymphocytes and natural killer cells to attack cancer cells.
Beta carotene is the most familiar carotenoid, but it is only one member of a large family. Researchers believe that it is not just beta carotene that produces all these good effects, but all the carotenoids working together. This is why getting carotenoids in food may be more cancer-protective than taking beta carotene supplements.
The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, which itself has anticancer properties and immune-boosting functions. But too much vitamin A can be toxic to the body, so it’s better to get extra beta carotene from foods and let the body naturally regulate how much of this precursor is converted to the immune-fighting vitamin A. It’s highly unlikely that a person could take in enough beta carotene to produce a toxic amount of vitamin A, because when the body has enough vitamin A, it stops making it.
4. Bioflavenoids – A group of phytonutrients called bioflavenoids aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants. Bioflavenoids protect the cell membranes against the pollutants trying to attach to them. Along the membrane of each cell there are microscopic parking spaces, called receptor sites. Pollutants, toxins, or germs can park here and gradually eat their way into the membrane of the cell, but when bioflavenoids fill up these parking spots there is no room for toxins to park. Bioflavenoids also reduce the cholesterol’s ability to form plaques in arteries and lessen the formation of microscopic clots inside arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who eat the most bioflavenoids have less cardiovascular disease. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least six servings per day, will help you get the bioflavenoids needed to help your immune system work in top form.
5. Zinc – This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies. Zinc supplements have been shown to slow the growth of cancer.
|RICH SOURCES OF ZINC|
|Food Source of Zinc||Serving Size||Zinc (in milligrams)|
|Zinc-fortified cereals||1 ounce||0-15|
|Turkey, dark meat||3 ounces||3.8|
6. Garlic – This flavorful member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic seem to be due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides. Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream. Cultures with a garlic-rich diet have a lower incidence of intestinal cancer. Garlic may also play a part in getting rid of potential carcinogens and other toxic substances. It is also a heart-friendly food since it keeps platelets from sticking together and clogging tiny blood vessels.
7. Selenium. This mineral increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. Best food sources of selenium are tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, vegetables (depending on the selenium content of the soil they’re grown in), brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb chops.
8. Omega-3 fatty acids. The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. ) Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. When taking essential fatty acid supplements, such as flax or fish oils, take additional vitamin E, which acts together with essential fatty acids to boost the immune system. One way to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to add one to three teaspoons of flax oil to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
RECIPE FOR IMMUNE-BOOSTING SMOOTHIE
4 HABITS THAT WEAKEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Certain foods and environmental influences can keep the immune system army from doing a good job. Watch out for these threats to your body’s defenses.
- Overdosing on sugar. Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system.
- Excess alcohol. Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune- boosting nutrients. Second, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs. High doses of alcohol suppress the ability of the white blood cells to multiply, inhibit the action of killer white cells on cancer cells, and lessen the ability of macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factors. One drink (the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of hard liquor) does not appear to bother the immune system, but three or more drinks do. Damage to the immune system increases in proportion to the quantity of alcohol consumed. Amounts of alcohol that are enough to cause intoxication are also enough to suppress immunity.
- Food allergens. Due to a genetic quirk, some divisions of the immune army recognize an otherwise harmless substance (such as milk) as a foreign invader and attack it, causing an allergic reaction. Before the battle, the intestinal lining was like a wall impenetrable to foreign invaders. After many encounters with food allergens, the wall is damaged, enabling invaders and other potentially toxic substances in the food to get into the bloodstream and make the body feel miserable. This condition is known as the leaky gut syndrome.
- Too much fat. Obesity can lead to a depressed immune system. It can affect the ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies, and rush to the site of an infection.