By Dr. Tosin
Do you have a great, solid immune system or one that barely works? How can you tell? By how well your health is and whether you seem to catch everything that’s going around. With the vast array of fast foods and sodas loaded with sugar—what are some healthy choices you can make to improve your immune system?
The nutrients in our food seem to have deteriorated over the last few decades, and some are not even noticeable until our health begins to fall apart. Let’s take a look at how we can be intentional in improving our health on a daily basis, so we can maintain or improve our vitality and stamina.
The Best 5 Foods To Improve our Immune System
Four of the five foods can be used as seasonings in the savory dishes you cook.
The Chinese have been using mushrooms as a staple in their diets for thousands of years. The Western world now has the science to back up the amazing effects they can have on our immune system. According to a Harvard Nutritionist, the maitake mushroom can increase Th1 cytokines, which help your immune response when fighting bacterial infections.
Benefits of the maitake mushroom discovered through research:
- Cancer—It could be effective in managing cancer and especially useful in preventing and treating breast cancer.
- Cholesterol—A study found that the powdered extract lowered cholesterol levels in mice and was also shown to increase fatty acids that provide energy.
- Type 1 Diabetes—A positive effect on glucose levels in rats points to the mushroom’s potental to treat type 2 diabetes in humans.
The maitake mushroom may also benefit:
- Immune Function
- Side effects of Chemotherapy
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Cold and Flu Viruses
Ways to incorporate the maitake mushroom into your cooking
It can be added to any food where you would normally add mushrooms. Dishes such as omelets, salad, stir-fry, pasta, or soup. They can also be fried in butter or grilled.
The shiitake mushroom has also been considered a medicinal mushroom, mostly in Asia. They also have the capacity to stimulate the immune response, specifically in increasing the NK and Cytotoxic T cells, which both have been shown to conquer viruses and cancer cells.
This unique mushroom contains all eight essential amino acids, along with a type of essential fatty acid called linoleic acid. This type of acid helps with weight loss, building muscle, improves digestion, has bone-building benefits, and reduces food allergies and sensitivities.
Benefits of the shiitake mushroom discovered through research:
- Fights obesity
- Supports Immune Function
- Destroys Cancer Cells
- Supports Cardiovascular Health
- Contains Antimicrobial Properties
- Boosts Energy and Brain Function
- Provides Vitamin D
- Promotes Skin Health
- Supports Digestive and Gut Health
- Serves as a Source of B Vitamins
Ways to incorporate the shiitake mushroom into your cooking
This particular mushroom is becoming more popular and can be found in most grocery stores. Like the maitake mushroom, it can be added to a variety of the dishes you cook. Add this woodsy flavor and meaty texture to soups, stir-fries, meat dishes, and omelets.
The reishi mushroom is another mushroom used in Asian countries for hundreds of years. They have been approved adjuncts to standard cancer treatments in China and Japan for over 30 years, and have an extensive history of being safe to use as a single agent or combined with chemotherapy.
Benefits of the reishi mushroom discovered through research:
This mushroom is used to help boost the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and even lessen fatigue. The other health benefits include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
- Liver or kidney disease
- Respiratory diseases (such as asthma)
- Viral infections (such as the flu)
- Cancer, as well as support during chemotherapy
- The pain from a shingles outbreak
- Building strength and stamina
- Lessen fatigue
Ways to incorporate the reishi mushroom into your cooking
While the reishi mushroom is cultivated and sold as a food, it may be too tough and bitter to add to your meals. Therefore, it is usually taken in a dried form, or as an extract in the form of liquid, capsule or powder.
Note: the reishi mushroom may increase risk of bleeding. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking this mushroom if you already use an anticoagulant or antiplatelet drug such as Aspirin, NSAIDs, Warfarin, Heparin, etc. This mushroom may also interact with some high blood pressure medications.
Ginger is another plant that has been around for centuries. This plant originated in Southeast Asia and adds a lot of flavor to food. Ginger is known mainly for its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant traits.
Benefits of ginger discovered through research:
- Better Digestion
- Improves Immunity
- Alleviates PMS Symptoms
- Relieves Nausea and Upset Stomach
- May Help With Cancer
- Reduces Pain
- Healthier Skin
- Aids in Weight Loss
- Prevents Cardiovascular Disease
- Improves Brain Function
Studies have also revealed that ginger extract may help prevent alcohol-induced liver disease and also block the kidney damage caused by some chemotherapy drugs. If you have GI complaints such as nausea and bloating, ginger will help balance your microbiome.
Ways to incorporate ginger into your cooking
Ginger can be added to your diet in three easy ways. First, many enjoy Ginger Tea. You can find numerous recipes on the Internet. Second, it can be used to spice up your foods. It works well in soups, stir-fries and curries. It can also be added to desserts or smoothies. And the third way is to make a Ginger Juice using a juicer.
- Broccoli Sprouts
These are nutritional powerhouses that are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Just one serving provides high amounts of vitamin C, which is known for its antioxidant and immune-boosting properties.
Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts discovered through research:
- May have anti-cancer properties
- May support mental and brain health (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease and improve certain symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
- May promote gut health
- Improved heart health
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Better joint health
Ways to incorporate Broccoli Sprouts into your cooking
These sprouts are great for adding crunch and texture to your dishes. You can add them to almost any salad, sandwich, or wrap. They can be added to a smoothie, sauté them with other vegetables for a stir-fry, enjoy them on their own with a touch of lime juice, and even combine them with noodles for a hot or cold dish.
This vegetable has multiple compounds that regulate the immune system. Studies have shown that it increases the activity of NK cells, which is a type of immune cell that has granules with enzymes that can kill tumor cells. Other medical insights show:
- It can help protect the heart by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure
- It can increase levels of beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus, which is a natural inhabitant of the GI tract and works as an excellent probiotic
- It is known to be antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal
- It can fix bacterial imbalances in the gut which may be driving inflammation
- It contains antioxidants that may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
- At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity
Ways to incorporate Garlic into your cooking
Since garlic is delicious, it can easily be added to your savory dishes, soups, sauces, dressings, and more.
- Turmeric and Curcumin
This spice may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Turmeric’s main active ingredient is curcumin. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is also a very strong antioxidant. However, the content of curcumin in turmeric isn’t that high and in order to maximize its effectiveness, it is best to use it in supplement form. And in its supplement form, it needs to be combined with bioperine, which is taken from black pepper, in order to assist the absorption by the body.
Benefits of Turmeric and curcumin discovered through research:
Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory compound and plays a vital role in some health conditions, such as:
- Heart Disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Various Degenerative Conditions
According to a Harvard nutritionist, here are some added benefits:
- It can buffer high cortisol levels
- It can suppress some of the immune changes at the root of autoimmune diseases, while generally helpful in reducing chronic inflammation throughout the body
- It encourages the growth of beneficial strains of bacteria in the gut and lowers other disease-causing bacterial strains
- It’s effective in minimizing joint swelling in rheumatoid arthritis
Ways to incorporate Turmeric and Curcumin into your diet
As mentioned above, in order to receive the higher amounts of curcumin so you can obtain the best results, it is better to add a supplement to your daily regimen.
Avoid These 5 Foods Which Weaken Your Memory and Focus
Without high-functioning memory and focus, we flounder around in life until we find ourselves one day wondering how we got in our current physical and mental shape. It takes intention on our part to not only eat the right foods and take nutritional supplements, but we need to also know what items to avoid.
According to a Harvard Nutritionist, here are the five food that weaken our memory and focus.
- Added Sugars. Our brain develops its energy in the form of glucose, which is a form of sugar. However, a diet high in sugar can lead to excess glucose in the brain. Studies have linked this to memory impairments and less plasticity of the hippocampus—the part of our brain that controls memory.
- Fried Foods. The guilty pleasures from eating fried foods cause inflammation, which can damage blood vessels that supply the brain with blood. If you’re eating fried foods daily, switch it to once a week. If you’re only eating it once a week, try doing it only once a month. If you don’t eat fried foods, then you’re already on your way to living a happier life.
- High-glycemic-load carbohydrates. Not all carbohydrates are damaging. Better quality carbohydrates are whole grains, foods high in fiber, green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. High-glycemic index carbs include potatoes, white bread and white rice. Medium-glycemic index carbs include honey, orange juice, and whole-meal breads. People who ate the better-quality carbs were 30% less likely to develop depression.
- A study in 2018 revealed that people who did not drink alcohol at all, or who consumed more than 14 drinks per week, had a higher risk of dementia—compared to those who drank alcohol in moderation.
- These are used as a preservative and to enhance the color in deli slices and cured meats like bacon, salami, and sausage. Nitrates may be a causation of depression.
I encourage you to begin today to get intentional about what you eat, and don’t eat. Without these changes, the quality of your life will suffer, as well as your relationships and ability to be successful in all areas of your life.