Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are You Weakening Your Immune System?

Ask anyone leaving in a malaria endemic region, he or she will tell you that it is not an easy task. For my new friend Ayo (not his real name), sleeping under treated mosquito nets is less fun because the length of his bed can not accommodate his towering height.  Most nights he had to keep vigil on the mosquitoes, killing them with his high priced insect swat, his bare hands or whatever that could help him do the job. Despite his night time wars against the mosquitoes, he constantly went down with malaria which was most of the times accompanied by flu. 

Recently, my new friend testified that the frequency of his malaria bouts reduced when he made some changes in his diet. He did not develop an anti-malaria diet; neither did the mosquitoes become extinct. He realized the weakening effect of his diet and lifestyle on his immune system.

An army of millions of microscopic soldiers operates within every one of us, each one ready to jump into battle against invading parasites and to carry out the duty of protecting us against diseases. How we feed these soldiers has a great influence on how well they protect us from diseases. On a poor diet, the immune system can not perform at its peak. Certain foods can keep the immune system army from doing a good job. Watch out!

The Offenders  

Too much sugar. Overdosing on sugar can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs. This includes table sugars and those in carbonated drinks and simple carbohydrates. In contrast, complex carbohydrates do not suppress or have a weakening effect on the immune system. Remember this tip the next time you grab a can of soft drink.

Too much fat. We already know that eating too much fat can lead to obesity which on its own can lead to a depressed and lazy immune system. This is another reason to lose weight if you are already overweight.

Too much alcohol. Excessive alcohol intake does not only lead to nutritional deficiency, it deprives the body of valuable immune-boosting nutrients. Just like sugar, it can reduce the ability of the white cells to multiply, fight or kill germs.

Finally, what foods are you allergic to? Your immune army recognizes these otherwise harmless foods as a forein invader and attacks it. This is the reason for allergic reactions. Several encounters with food allergens can cause the walls of the intestine to damage, thereby making it easy for other toxic substances to get into the blood stream. This can lead to illness.

Our immune systems are constantly working to protect us, let’s pay them back with a boost. See how to.