Watch the news for a few minutes and you will hear about some outbreak of; Influenza, H1N1, West Nile, Enterovirus D68, AIDS, or Ebola. Wow! Stop the train… I want to get off! What is going on? Remember when we were kids? There was nothing like this happening! So what has changed? What can we do about these seemingly endless outbreaks that are happening almost every year now? I just want to raise my family safely… It can seem overwhelming, but not if you know the facts!!
We are going to look at what you can do, what foods are key in building your defense, and how to prepare foods that boost health so you can eat and live to guard your health and your family’s.
Where do we start? First, you must understand your enemy. Influenza, H1N1, West Nile, Enterovirus D68, AIDS, and Ebola all sound like intimidating diseases, but they all have one simple thing in common. They are viruses! Did you know that Polio, Chicken Pocks, Shingles, cold sores, smallpox, and multiple sclerosis are all caused by viruses too. So if we just build our body’s ability to fight virus attacks we could have a lot of the battle WON!
Your Immune System
It all begins with your immune system. This is our main defense against viruses. Some have strong immune systems and don’t get sick, others have weaker systems and get sick more often. I know that is a very simple way to look at it, but this is basic immunology. Guess this is where the old saying, “survival of the fittest” could have come from. Healthy people tend to stay healthy.
Let’s talk about your immune system briefly. Your immune system defends you against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites that try to invade your body. You come in contact with these invaders in the air you breath, foods you eat and liquids you drink. As you can see you are under attack daily, so you would want your immune system to be as strong as possible to defend you daily.
What Weakens Your Immune System?
Stress and poor nutrition are the biggest enemies of the immune system. As I am sure you know, stress can destroy the body overtime. But how many people understand that malnutrition affects near 55% plus of the people in the United States and over 30% of the people world wide. Worldwatch Institute published in 2000; Worldwatch Paper #150: Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition.
“Both the overweight and the underweight suffer from malnutrition, a deficiency or excess in a person’s intake of nutrients and other dietary elements needed for healthy living. The hungry and the overweight share high levels of sickness and disability, shortened life expectancies…” – Gary Gardner, co-author with Brian Halweil of Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition.
We don’t usually think of overweight people as malnourished. Often though these people gained the extra weight from poor quality foods, ie. fast food, processed foods, high sugar foods, etc. It’s what you eat, not how much you eat, that provides the proper levels of nutrition.
“Malnutrition causes a decline in immune function and increases susceptibility to infection (Brussow 1995; Lotfy 1998; delaFuente 1998). Likewise, a vitamin or mineral deficiency can suppress immune system function (delaFuente 1998). Correct choices of supplements, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, probiotics, and botanicals have been shown to boost immunity and may also reduce the risk of disease(s) in healthy Individuals (Kaminogawa 2004)”. – Life Extension Foundation
Okay, I think you will agree with me that we have established a link between poor nutrition and a weakened immune system. Now the question is what can we do to strengthen it?
Strengthen Your Immune System
We will talk about foods and preparation methods that can super-charge your meals to help provide the most nutrition you can get from common foods over the next few weeks. But I wanted to start you off with something easy you can do to start building that immune system today.
Correct hydration levels have a huge impact on the immune system. According to a study done by the University of Washington among adults aged 20 to 50, over 43% of men and 41% of the women failed to meet the daily water intakes recommended by the US Institute of Medicine (about 6 pints for women and 8 pints for men). It got even worse for older people 50 to 70 years came in at 95% for men and 83% for women.
What Water Does For You
- Water oxygenates the blood and allows it to stay fluid so nutrition can be carried in and wastes out.
- Water keeps lymph at proper hydration levels so nutrition can be transported to the blood. Lymph also directly supports the immune system.
- Water keeps your eyes and mouth moist, to repel dirt, dust and parasites that might cause infection.
- Water allows proper digestion of foods, as it keeps digestive acids, enzymes and bile at correct hydration levels.
- Water helps ease arthritis and joint problems, aids in prevention of depression by allowing the brain to make enough serotonin, and it helps with insomnia because your brain needs water to produce melatonin.
How Do You Drink?
How you drink your water is very important too. Waiting and gulping down 16 oz every 3 to 4 hours does not help a lot. Your body does not store up water, after all you are not a camel. It takes what it needs and lets the rest go. A better method of drinking water is to sip it every 15 to 20 minutes. It will save on lots of trips to the bathroom and gives your body the fluids it needs at the moment, which may be only a few ounces.
Let me say one last thing about water… coffee, tea, beer, milk, soda, etc. are not water! These are seen by the body as foods and they have to be digested, but you need water for digestion, right? Do you see the issue, if you don’t think of water as water? The advantage of water is that no digestion is required, the body just sends it to the areas where it is needed.
What Water Do You Drink?
All water is not equal! We all grew up drinking water out of the tap or garden hose in the summer, but not anymore. Water purity is not what it used to be. I get reports on my tap water from the city each year. These reports state that lead was in the water in some places of the city (they conveniently don’t tell where), and that the lead levels were higher than recommended by the EPA. Personally, I don’t want any lead in my water if possible. And let’s not even get started on all the other issues with city tap water that make the chlorine and fluoride in it look like child’s play. Want to look more into water purity, see Is Chlorine In Drinking Water Safe?, Fluoride In Drinking Water = Poison.
What about bottled water? In the US there is no regulation on bottled water, it could be right out of the tap and bottled. Right back at start again except for one thing. That bottled water comes 99% of the time in plastic bottles and plastic leaches when it gets hot. So that means bottled water will have good amounts of polymers and resins, derived from petrochemicals, all toxic to us.
You can see that you will have to clean the water yourself if you want it done right. I have looked at some different water filters and water purifiers, producing articles on your choices. Here are a few; A Guide To Water Filter Systems, Big Berkey Water Filter System *Review*, Alkaline Water, Healthy or Harmful?
Need some clean water until you can get a good system? Often your larger markets or supercenters will have water filtration dispensers that will fill your larger water bottles on the spot in 2 1/2 gallon or 5 gallon containers. This water is much better than bottled water and could hold you till you can get your own system.
We have some super news about water filter systems that will be released in next weeks article that may just surprise some of you.