BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM AND INCREASE BODY STRENGTH

 

How can you improve your immune system? On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations? Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response?

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?

The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.

But that doesn’t mean the effects of lifestyle on the immune system aren’t intriguing and shouldn’t be studied. Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand.

 

HEALTHY WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Try to minimize stress.

 

 

INCREASE IMMUNITY THE HEALTHY WAY

Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity. But the concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically. In fact, boosting the number of cells in your body — immune cells or others — is not necessarily a good thing. For example, athletes who engage in “blood doping” — pumping blood into their systems to boost their number of blood cells and enhance their performance — run the risk of strokes.

Attempting to boost the cells of your immune system is especially complicated because there are so many different kinds of cells in the immune system that respond to so many different microbes in so many ways. Which cells should you boost, and to what number? So far, scientists do not know the answer. What is known is that the body is continually generating immune cells. Certainly it produces many more lymphocytes than it can possibly use. The extra cells remove themselves through a natural process of cell death called apoptosis — some before they see any action, some after the battle is won. No one knows how many cells or what the best mix of cells the immune system needs to function at its optimum level.

 

IMMUNE SYSTEM AND AGE

As we age, our immune response capability becomes reduced, which in turn contributes to more infections and more cancer. As life expectancy in developed countries has increased, so too has the incidence of age-related conditions.

While some people age healthily, the conclusion of many studies is that, compared with younger people, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases and, even more importantly, more likely to die from them. Respiratory infections, influenza, and particularly pneumonia are a leading cause of death in people over 65 worldwide. No one knows for sure why this happens, but some scientists observe that this increased risk correlates with a decrease in T cells, possibly from the thymus atrophying with age and producing fewer T cells to fight off infection. Whether this decrease in thymus function explains the drop in T cells or whether other changes play a role is not fully understood. Others are interested in whether the bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that give rise to the cells of the immune system.

A reduction in immune response to infections has been demonstrated by older people’s response to vaccines. For example, studies of influenza vaccines have shown that for people over age 65, the vaccine is much less effective compared to healthy children (over age 2). But despite the reduction in efficacy, vaccinations for influenza and S. pneumoniae have significantly lowered the rates of sickness and death in older people when compared with no vaccination.

 

DIET AND IMMUNE SYSTEM

Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. Scientists have long recognized that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Whether the increased rate of disease is caused by malnutrition’s effect on the immune system, however, is not certain. There are still relatively few studies of the effects of nutrition on the immune system of humans, and even fewer studies that tie the effects of nutrition directly to the development (versus the treatment) of diseases.

 

IMPROVE IMMUNITY WITH HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS?

Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to “support immunity” or otherwise boost the health of your immune system. Although some preparations have been found to alter some components of immune function, thus far there is no evidence that they actually bolster immunity to the point where you are better protected against infection and disease. Demonstrating whether an herb — or any substance, for that matter — can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter. Scientists don’t know, for example, whether an herb that seems to raise the levels of antibodies in the blood is actually doing anything beneficial for overall immunity.

 

STRESS AND IMMUNE FUNCTION

Modern medicine has come to appreciate the closely linked relationship of mind and body. A wide variety of maladies, including stomach upset, hives, and even heart disease, are linked to the effects of emotional stress. Despite the challenges, scientists are actively studying the relationship between stress and immune function.

For one thing, stress is difficult to define. What may appear to be a stressful situation for one person is not for another. When people are exposed to situations they regard as stressful, it is difficult for them to measure how much stress they feel, and difficult for the scientist to know if a person’s subjective impression of the amount of stress is accurate. The scientist can only measure things that may reflect stress, such as the number of times the heart beats each minute, but such measures also may reflect other factors.

 

Immune system boosters

Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. If you’re looking for ways to prevent winter colds and the flu, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Plan your meals to include these 15 powerful immune system boosters.

1. Citrus fruits

citrus

Most people turn to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.

Popular citrus fruits include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes
  • clementines

Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

 

2. Red bell peppers

red bell pepper

If you think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable, think again. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

3. Broccoli

broccoli

Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.

4. Garlic

garlic

Garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthTrusted Source, garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

5. Ginger

ginger

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea.

While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal researchTrusted Source.

 

6. Spinach

spinach

Spinach made our list not just because it’s rich in vitamin C. It’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.

 

7. Yogurt

yogurt

Look for yogurts that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kinds that are preflavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead.

Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.

 

 

8. Almonds

When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.

 

9. Turmeric

You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. But this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, researchTrusted Source shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.

 

 

10. Green tea

Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.

Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.

 

 

 

 

 

Increase your strength by up to 20% in six weeks

 

Take your time

“The key to gaining strength fast through body-weight exercises is speed of movement,”  In this workout you will take five seconds to descend through each exercise, pause for two seconds at the bottom of the movement, and then explode into the move as quickly as you can. “This arrangement teaches your muscles to fire quickly in less than ideal circumstances – which is often what you will encounter in sport,”

 

Perform this workout twice a week for six weeks, he says, and you can expect to see strength gains of up to 20%.

 

 

 

The workout

Press-ups: three sets; four reps; 60 seconds rest between sets
Chin-ups: three sets; four reps; 60 seconds rest between sets
Jump squats: three sets; four reps; 60 seconds rest between sets
Dynamic lunges: three sets; four reps; 60 seconds rest between sets

 

How can you improve your immune system? On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations? Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response?

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?

The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.

But that doesn’t mean the effects of lifestyle on the immune system aren’t intriguing and shouldn’t be studied. Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand.

 

HEALTHY WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

Don’t smoke.

Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

Exercise regularly.

Maintain a healthy weight.

If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

Get adequate sleep.

Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.

Try to minimize stress.

 

Press-ups

Use a shoulder-width hand placement while keeping your elbows tucked into your rib cage. “This allows for more triceps recruitment,” explains Mendelson. Descend over five seconds and at the bottom of the movement pause for two seconds with your chin one inch from the floor. Keep your body completely straight to seriously tax your core. Finally, explode upwards while contracting your glutes to keep your body in a straight line.

 

Chin-ups

Chin-ups, says Mendelson, are one of those exercises that many people do, but very few execute correctly – cheating their way through for a greater number of reps. You’re going to do only four. But they’re going to be tough. Use a shoulder-width grip with palms facing towards you. Pull yourself up explosively and ensure your clavicle touches the bar.

 

Jump squats

Jump squats should be performed in the same way as a regular squat, except you will drive up with such a level of explosiveness that your feet will leave the ground for a vertical jump. As with the press-ups and chin-ups, descend over five seconds and pause for two at the bottom of the movement. Aim for a parallel position at the bottom of the movement – bum level with knees. Note this move should be skipped if you have an injury-ridden history.

 

Dynamic lunges

Beginning with your feet shoulder-width apart, lunge forward with one leg to bring it in line with your back leg. Your back knee should finish at the same height as your back ankle. Lower your weight down on to your front leg over five seconds until your front knee is level with your bum. Pause at the bottom of the movement for two seconds. Then drive off the ball of your front foot back to the start position. Repeat with your other leg for four reps per leg and make sure you keep an equal stride length with each.

Jump squats

Jump squats should be performed in the same way as a regular squat, except you will drive up with such a level of explosiveness that your feet will leave the ground for a vertical jump. As with the press-ups and chin-ups, descend over five seconds and pause for two at the bottom of the movement. Aim for a parallel position at the bottom of the movement – bum level with knees. Note this move should be skipped if you have an injury-ridden history.

 

Dynamic lunges

Beginning with your feet shoulder-width apart, lunge forward with one leg to bring it in line with your back leg. Your back knee should finish at the same height as your back ankle. Lower your weight down on to your front leg over five seconds until your front knee is level with your bum. Pause at the bottom of the movement for two seconds. Then drive off the ball of your front foot back to the start position. Repeat with your other leg for four reps per leg and make sure you keep an equal stride length with each.

Leave a Reply