The immune system and food – what should you be eating?

The links between healthy food and a healthy body have been noted for many years, but still people turn to the fatty, unhealthy foods offered by junk and fast food restaurants, rather than going to the healthy, fresh produce aisle in their grocery stores and supermarkets to get what they need. When you bear in mind the great impact that your diet has on your immune system, and in turn your overall daily well being, you can understand why so many people these days are ill or sick, suffering from so much more than just the common cold and flu!

There are certain foods, often referred to as “super foods” simply because of their great immune system boosting properties. This is perhaps why these super foods have also been linked to certain medical conditions, and to be more specific, the positive benefits they can have on them. In short – if your immune system is as strong as it needs to be, you are less likely to become ill, with both chronic and minor illnesses, and thus the link between healthy food, (or super foods) your immune system, and daily well being has been formed.

Antioxidants are what most of these super foods contain. These come in various forms, but mostly are compounds within foods in the shape of minerals, vitamins and many other types of nutrients that your body will lap up and use to their full potential. Antioxidants are the best weapon to fight against free radicals, and it is these free radicals that are said to cause the most problems within the body – purging the immune system of the nutrients and ingredients it needs in order to be healthy, thus disallowing it from fighting off infections and medical complaints effectively.

There are a million and one ways in which you can increase the antioxidants in your body, which will in turn help to boost the strength of the immune system and thus giving you a better quality of daily life and well being. The list of antioxidant-rich foods is almost as long as your arm, but to name but a few we have:

  • Fresh foods that contain vitamin C – tomatoes, sweet potato, strawberries, peppers, (of any color) oranges, lemons, kiwi, broccoli, grapefruit and even snow peas
  • Fresh foods that contain vitamin E – red peppers, pumpkin, carrots, sunflower seeds and nuts
  • Fresh fruit – prunes, plums, apples, berries and raisins

As you can see, these foods are more than likely foods that you are going to eat anyway – we all love a good fruit salad in the summer and nice, fresh vegetables with our Sunday roasts with the family. It is now easier than ever to incorporate these fruits and vegetables in our diet, especially with more user-friendly steamed and frozen versions, that although do not have the same nutrient value as their fresh counterparts, are still better than nothing!

The reason that antioxidants are everywhere that you look these days, including your morning cup of tea, or in your mid afternoon snack, is because they have so many benefits. Take, for example, Quercetin. This is one antioxidant that scientists have studied recently and it has been shown to massively help your immune system but aiding in the fight against allergies, (something that can lower your immune system) and even helping to fight inflammation.

In short, antioxidants are the best things that you can think about if you want to boost your immune system and have a better daily well being. A strengthen immune system means better sleep, less in the form of medical complaints, and in general, a much better quality of life – something we could all use!


Sleep and your immune health – what’s the link?

It has long since been noted that a lack of sleep can cause many more medical conditions than just a sleepy day at work and poor brain function. However, it has only been recently that those that suffer with poor sleeping patterns have been shown to be more susceptible to many chronic and everyday conditions, in a bid by Scientists to link those with an inability to sleep with poor immune health.

Sleep has been the question of many studies over many years, with its actual function and evolutionary status not becoming clear until studies performed in recent years. When you think back to the days of cavemen; sleeping put them in an incredibly risky position – while they were sleeping, not only were they at a high risk of becoming prey, but also stopped hunting for food to feed themselves and their families, were unable to take care of themselves, unable to reproduce and much more. However, despite the feelings that sleep was an evolutionary anomaly that didn’t really have any answers to back the questions of “why?” every animal sleeps, from humans to tigers, and even the simplest and smallest of creatures.

Sleep was once thought of as a way to conserve energy and to recharge the batteries, so to speak, but studies performed by Scientists have shown that sleep was actually more of a way for us to heighten the strength of the immune system. Studies were performed on people that regularly had trouble sleeping, and from these studies, it was shown that their inability to get a good night’s sleep actually made them more susceptible to infections, such as the common cold and cough, flu, and even more chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease.

Blood tests showed that those that didn’t get the recommended eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night had abnormalities within their immune system. These abnormalities varied from person to person, of course, but it was shown that many problems were present, including a lack of white blood cells – the cells used to fight off infection and exterior bodies that were not normally found in the body naturally, interleukins, (chemicals that helped to reduce inflammation) were in lower numbers, as well as many chemicals just like it, and even certain compounds that actively promoted inflammation were found in increased amounts. It is not yet clearly understood why all of these things put together, (or in some cases and patients, not) cause certain diseases and conditions, or at least make them worse, but one thing rings true – your immune system, and therefore your overall health and well being is reduced, giving you a poorer quality of life.

Other scientific studies have noted that when animals, (humans and otherwise) become sick, they sleep more in a bid to fight off the illness. It has also been shown that those that do not get enough, or at least have good quality sleep, do not respond well to vaccinations when compared with people that do get enough good quality sleep, and on top of this, animals that were studied in laboratories that were sleep deprived died fairly quickly from many conditions, including various bacterial infections. In short, sleep deprivation causes a massive impact on your immune system, and completely alters your daily well being.