Monday, October 17, 2011
Do you feel like you are always getting colds, skin rashes, headaches, fatigue or sinus infections? Well, maybe you need to do a cleanse that focuses on boosting your immune system, so your body can defend itself better from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. A good time to start thinking about boosting your immune system is before flu season comes around, or before any airplane travel.
Our immune system is supposed to protect us from these everyday illnesses, but our lifestyle choices can weaken this protective shield, leaving us vulnerable to disease and infections. A lot of the food we ingest is man-made, processed junk that put stress on your body and immune system. We should really be focusing on fresh, natural food. By cleansing out some bad lifestyle habits and junk food you can have your body fighting off every germ that comes your way!
Here are a few foods to eat and foods to avoid while you’re doing an immune system cleanse. Remember to be realistic - cutting out 100 percent of the bad stuff is probably not going to happen! However, if you try to stick to the plan for 2 weeks and work out a diet and lifestyle that work for you, then you’ll start to see some real improvements to your health.
Immune System Suppressors
These are the foods and lifestyle choices that actually weaken your immune system.
Alcohol and Coffee
Both alcohol and coffee lower the amount of white blood cells in your bloodstream. This weakens your body’s defenses against illness. They both impair the body’s absorption of vital nutrients, weakening the body and making it more susceptible to illness.
Cigarettes contain arsenic, cadmium, formaldehyde, to name just a few of the toxic chemicals that enter your system whenever you light up. All of these will impair your immune function - irritated lungs are much more vulnerable to infection.
Too much sugar can also suppress your immune system. Avoid sugar, honey, syrup, chocolate, and check labels for anything ending in “ose”. Avoid white flour and white flour products too - they affect the immune system in much the same way.
Top cleanses to shake off
those extra pounds
Cleanses to make your
skin and complexion glow
The famous Master Cleanse
A detoxifying juice cleanse
If you have a sweet tooth, you might think this is going to be an impossible task, but stick to it for a coupe of weeks and your cravings will go away. You can have a piece of fruit to curb your craving, but stay away from artificial sweeteners, as they are very toxic, even worse than sugar.
Trans fats are very toxic, damaging to your body and will certainly weaken your immune system. The main culprits are foods like cookies, cakes, donuts, pizza, fried chicken and most fast foods. When you’re shopping for food, be careful of shortening, margarine, cereal and cereal bars. But remember - the only sure way to avoid eating trans fats is to read labels!
How to Boost Your Immune System
When you have a cold people will often tell you to get some sleep, and its true that adequate rest is one of the most important factors in a healthy immune system. That’s why we feel so tired when we get sick. When we sleep, our immune system repairs and rebuilds, ready and armed to fight off all those germs that we encounter throughout the day. Don’t rest only when you get ill - try to aim for a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Research has shown that getting 30 minutes of vitamin D from sunlight or daylight strengthens the immune system to fight off disease. Don’t go overboard though. Sunlight is great for your health but you shouldn’t put your skin at risk for skin cancer.
This is an unconventional technique for boosting blood circulation. Skin brushing stimulates the immune cells to move more rapidly throughout your body and also helps carry toxins out of the body.
Exercise stimulates your lymphatic system, which helps fight germs and remove toxins. It also increases oxygen in the body and raises your body temperature, both of which play important roles in boosting immunity. Over-exercising can actually suppress the immune system though, so don’t go overboard.
To boost your immune system, it is important to eat a variety of whole foods. However, there is a small group of foods that you should put particular emphasis on.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
These immune boosters contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all important for keeping your immune system in order and your body free from disease. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will nourish your body, however there are some that are super immune fighting.
Try to include a serving or 2 of these super immune-boosting fruits and vegetables every day. Here are the ones that are highest in vitamin C:
Make sure you get enough of this immune boosting antioxidant. The best sources include lean meats, poultry, nuts, beans, grains, fortified cereals and leafy greens.
This is a strong antioxidant, which boosts your immune system and can even fight cancer. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe, squash.
Garlic contains an antimicrobial compound, Allicin, which encourages the multiplication of germ-fighting white blood cells. Studies have shown that people who consume garlic supplements, or consume garlic everyday, suffer from significantly fewer flus and colds. Two minced cloves of fresh garlic per day, either with food or mixed with water, should do the trick.
Lean meats contain Zinc, which plays a big role in activating the white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses. Good sources include oysters, beans, turkey, lamb, eggs, fortified cereals, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds).
All meat and eggs that you buy should be organic, to avoid unnecessary toxins like pesticides. Only eat wild-caught fish, and also avoid large fish that contain high levels of Mercury (e.g. shark, swordfish, tilefish, albacore and king mackerel).
Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria that populate the intestine and prevent fungal infection. Studies have shown plain yogurt stimulates the immune system and improves overall health. Make sure you buy plain yogurt though - the sugar in most yogurt brands will actually suppress your immune system.
Green tea contains a compound named EGCG, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from cancer. Green tea also has powerful anti-bacterial properties, helps to control dental plaque, stimulates your immune system cells and helps to fight off infection.
Staying constantly hydrated will ensure your body’s waste fluids are removed quickly and efficiently. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day, a glass every hour if possible.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."
The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a
Harvested coconuts lined up on the beach.
staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.
Coconut In Traditional Medicine
People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people have learned of its importance as a effective medicine. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.
In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.
Coconut In Modern Medicine
Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
Helps protect against osteoporosis.
Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
Improves digestion and bowel function.
Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
Supports tissue healing and repair.
Supports and aids immune system function.
Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Functions as a protective antioxidant.
Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
Reduces epileptic seizures.
Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
Dissolves kidney stones.
Helps prevent liver disease.
Is lower in calories than all other fats.
Supports thyroid function.
Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Helps control dandruff.
Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
Is completely non-toxic to humans.
See Research to read some of the published studies regarding the above mentioned uses of coconut products.
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.
Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth." That's quite a remarkable statement. What makes coconut oil so good? What makes it different from all other oils, especially other saturated fats?
The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.
The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Why? Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.
MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.
There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.