IMMUNE SYSTEM BUILDERS
Imagine that your body is a castle that’s under attack by marauding hordes. You have a moat (your immune system) that surrounds your castle and helps to keep it safe. The immune system isn’t the only protection, but it helps. Other protection reinforcements include antibiotics, and good nutrition that keeps your immune system at its best possible level. We’re here to let you know how to keep your immune system (and your castle) in good fighting condition.
WHAT IS AN IMMUNE SYSTEM?
If we’re imagining that your body is a castle, imagine that there is a drawbridge that, when down, can let the enemy inside the castle walls. The marauding hordes are primarily bacteria and viruses. Occasionally the castle is attacked from within by cancerous cells.
The immune system is your body’s defense against the external threats. it is a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together. One of the important cells involved are white blood cells, also called leukocytes, which come in two basic types that combine to seek out and destroy disease-causing organisms or substances.
Leukocytes are produced or stored in many locations in the body, including the thymus, spleen, and bone marrow. There are also clumps of lymphoid tissue throughout the body, primarily as lymph nodes, that house the leukocytes.
The leukocytes circulate through the body between the organs and nodes through the lymphatic vessels and blood vessels. There are two kinds for leukocytes:
- Phagocytes, cells that chew up invading organisms
- Lymphocytes, cells that allow the body to remember and recognize previous invaders and help the body destroy them.
Certain diseases can weaken the immune system. The most well-known of these disease is AIDS – acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is typically not AIDS that would kill a patient, but an opportunistic secondary disease or infection. Diabetes is another example of a disease which weakens the immune system.
NUTRITION TO STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
In order to function properly, your immune system requires several nutrients, including protein, vitamins A, C and E, plus zinc and iron. Probiotics, which are friendly bacteria found in some foods, are also helpful.
To strengthen your immune system, add these 10 foods to your weekly meals:
- Almonds are high in vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant in your body and helps immune system function. Almonds are also high in iron and protein that are also essential for your immune system.
- Avocado is best known for being a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, similar to olive oil, but it’s also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin C, iron and zinc.
- Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C, which is essential for immune system function because it helps stimulate the formation of antibodies. Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin A and is a good source of plant-based iron - also good for your immune system.
- Kale has gotten a great deal of press lately – and for good reason. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that’s related to cauliflower, arugula and broccoli. It’s rich in so many nutrients including vitamin A, C and E, iron and zinc.
- Mangos are now easy to find in grocery stores. They’re available in both the produce and freezer sections of the grocery store. That’s good because mangos are loaded with both vitamins A, C and E.
- Oysters may be slimy, but they are very high in zinc and an excellent source of protein and iron. Oysters also have a bit of vitamin A.
- Red sweet peppers are good for your immune system because they’re high in both vitamins C and A and also have vitamin E.
- Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and also contain vitamin C, vitamin E and plant-based iron.
- Tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and is also high in zinc, selenium and protein that are all essential for immune system function.
- Yogurt is known for its probiotic properties, although it is also high in protein. Yogurt also contains vitamin A and zinc.
Add these 10 items to your weekly diet, and your immune system will be doing its part to protect your castle and its royal inhabitants.