Your immune system is a highly complex but amazing mechanism, vital to your overall health. When referring to the immune system’s physical parts, we call the collection of these parts the lymphatic system, though the entire immune system on a molecular level, goes much further, for even the tiniest cell in our bodies can create chemicals to aid in the defence of the entire system. Your immune system also has an intelligence of its own. The new paradigm is that it is a circulating consciousness and your mind does not just reside in the skull.
While many trials are continuing to be carried out, experts are finally realising the powerful link between our thoughts and emotions on our immune system. In particular, stress is found to play a big factor in the over-activation of the immune system. In a recent study conducted by “National Institutes of Health”, Sapolsky, R.M quoted “Stress-related disease emerges, predominantly, out of the fact that we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months on end, worrying about mortgages, relationships, and promotions”.
The Chemicals Produced by Your Immune System
In a nutshell, feeling good and thinking positive do wonders for your immune system. There is a group of chemicals produced by your immune system that have a magical effect on your health. These are known as Interleukins. Interleukins are hormones that carry messages between the immune cells to orchestrate the entire battle that goes on inside your body to protect you from threats to your health.
Interleukins are produced by a vast range of cells and therefore provide a wide variety of responses in between cells. Your body actually creates these wonderful chemicals whenever you do something that deeply excites you, enthrals you and rings all your bells.
Give Your Interleukins A Boost!
Here are some examples of ways in which to give your cells happy communication:
1. Going on holiday with friends and family and having a great time with your loved ones.
2. Going on a rollercoaster ride if you enjoy the adrenaline rush.
3. Adventure sports, like snorkelling, scuba diving and parachute jumping.
5. Making love for hours with someone you love of course!
6. Being creative.
7. Expressing your spirituality.
8. Personal development seminars.
The foundations of a healthy immune system are based on a healthy diet and exercise. Having a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is essential for good health.
Antioxidant Value of Food
Antioxidants reduce oxygen damage caused by free radicals, which are damaging to the body as free radicals attack healthy cells. Generally the body is able to fight off free radicals, unless antioxidant levels are low, which is when damage and disease can occur. Antioxidants protect against free radical damage as it neutralises the free radicals, preventing them from spreading throughout the body. There is a new way to measure the antioxidant value of foods. This is known as ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) units.
Did you know that raw cocoa has one of the highest quantities of antioxidants? Most processed chocolate bars contain very little nutritional value, however if you opt for dark chocolate which is at least 85% proof, you will reap in the benefits of vitamins and minerals contained within. Consuming dark chocolate in moderation is one of the easiest (and most delicious) ways to give your immune system a boost. Vitamin and mineral deficiency are well-known contributors for a lowering in immune system responses.
Here is a List of Foods With a High ORAC Rating:
-Spices, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, chilli powder, ginger
-Herbs: Thyme, Parsley, basil
Other foods that boost the immune system are:
–Extra virgin olive oil. Studies have found that olive oil presents beneficial effects on patients suffering from autoimmune diseases and a reduction in inflammatory activity.
–Beans of all kinds as they are high in soluble fibre and protein. Soluble fibre has been found to improve anti-inflammatory functions in the body, therefore boosting the immune system.
–All coloured vegetables: such as tomatoes, red pepper, carrots as they contain fibre and antioxidants such as carotenoids, phenols and flavonoids. Lycopene in tomatoes is a powerful anticancer and cardio protecting carotenoid.
–Dark Greens: Your liver loves the dark green vegetables (it hates sweets and fats). There are more phytochemicals in these dark green veggies than we can list here, only to say that they fight cancer, promote bone growth, clean your liver, and of course, are filled with antioxidants.
–Cruciferous vegetable: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress. These are high in glutathione which is extremely important for a healthy immune system, the repair and rebuilding of tissue, production of chemicals required by the body and many other vital processes.
–Essential fatty acids: Flax seed oil and oily fish are full of omega 3s. These are essential ingredients for a healthy immune system and contain powerful antioxidant properties, which fight free radicals, preventing them from causing damage to healthy cells.
It is essential to keep the body in balance and ready to fight against free radical damage in order to protect against serious disease. Free radicals have been largely linked to cancer, as exposure to many environmental toxins such as pollution, smoking, chemical cleaning products and toxic cosmetics increase the build up of free radicals. Processed foods are also big contributors to free radical damage as the carcinogenic properties contained within the processed foods build up inside the body unnoticed over a period of time. By consuming foods rich in antioxidants and rating high on the ORAC scale you can help the body reverse the damage by free radicals.
Resources: Sino Biological Inc www.sinobiological.com/What-are-Interleukins-a-6072.html
Olive oil and immune system www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20204249
Antioxidants and cancer prevention: www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/antioxidants-fact-sheet
Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/#R302