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The immune system is responsible for keeping us alive and healthy. When it is at its best we feel on top of the world. But as we all know, it sometimes operates less effectively and we can become prone to illness. Poor diet, lack of exercise and stress are some of the main causes of a low immune system and it is during this time that outside invaders like bacteria and viruses can get a stronghold in our bodies – and we find ourselves getting ill.
Most of us can admit to ourselves that we should eat healthier and exercise more but often find that many things get in our way. In order to combat this lack of a healthier lifestyle there are a few easy alternatives that we can adopt. This is not meant to be an excuse to replace healthy eating or exercise but it can help ‘supplement’ our general health when we are lacking in those areas.
Certain supplements have been known to have a positive effect on the immune system and when buying supplements remember ‘you pay for what you get’! You can not put a price on a healthy body so paying a little extra has to be worth it. Cheap may make your pocket cheerful but it won’t really help your body.
Echinacea is probably the best known immune system booster which is responsible for increasing our defence mechanisms against bacterial and viral infections. In one study it was shown to reduce cold incidence by 65%. When taken with vitamin C this reduction was 86%. Echinacea is especially good to take during the winter months but can be taken at any time of the year. It is important to take breaks of about 5-7 days every month.
Goldenseal helps to stimulate the immune system by increasing the production and effectiveness of white blood cells. Goldenseal properties include immune system booster, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-diarrhoeal.
Astragalus is one of the most popular herbs in Chinese medicine. It helps to boost the immune system by increasing the efficiency of white blood cells. Astragalus is an adaptogen which means it can adapt to the various stresses including physical, mental, or emotional and modify our bodies responses accordingly.
Cayenne is especially good at fighting off the viruses that cause the common cold. It increases white blood cell count and also helps to treat sore throats. It aides the digestive system and helps in the absorption of nutrients. Cayenne can actually raise the body temperature slightly as it stimulates circulation and blood flow to the skin. It acts as a diaphoretic (sweat-inducing) which can help reduce fevers and relieve the congestion of colds and sinusitis.
Garlic is good for circulation, fights infection and helps boost the immune system. It has high levels of selenium, as well as other antioxidants and an anti-bacterial sulphur compound known as Allicin. It has antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Taken regularly, especially in food, it can act as a nasal decongestant – clearing catarrh and can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, fight the symptoms of arthritis and can even help with asthma. Its most famous use though, is for warding off vampires!
Most of us have taken antibiotics at some point but what the doctors don’t tell you is that whilst antibiotics are effective at destroying the bad bacteria, it also destroys the good. The good bacteria is essential to a healthy body and replacing these after a course of antibiotics is a must. As these ‘friendly bacteria’ have a real function within our bodies it is a good practice to keep them topped up. The results can help keep your bowels healthy and boost your immune system. They can even help combat stress.
Antioxidants are another essential in every body. They are responsible for eliminating the ‘free radicals’ which roam our bodies causing cellular damage. The main antioxidants are Vitamins A, C and E which can be found in abundance in fresh fruit & vegetables and Selenium of which the richest source is found in Brazil nuts. We can help our immune system fight these free radicals with a regular intake of antioxidants.
You can order Antioxidants supplements from our online shop
© Gary Lloyd
The Immune System by Gary Lloyd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.