Immune System Soldiers

We are living in uncertain times, and the colloquy surrounding health and safety can be overwhelming. Ready to cut back on fear and bulk up on energy and freedom? Here, we unmask the true heroes behind enemy lines.

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Vitamin C

Produced in the bone marrow, white blood cells are the front-line warriors of the immune system. The most effective way to increase white blood cells is to get a sufficient dose of vitamin C every day. Healthy levels will help protect cells against environmental oxidative stress, supporting their primary function as it relates to defense. It is recommended that adults get 65 to 90 mg a day.

Best sources: dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.

Vitamin E

A fat-soluble potent antioxidant, vitamin E protects cells from free radical damage and helps them fight infection. Primarily found in foods containing fat, plant-based sources include nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils, wheat germ, and even some dark leafy greens.

Vitamin B6

Another vital component for strong immunity, vitamin B6 may aid in the production of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen between cells. B6 deficiency can lead to a delayed immune response and a plethora of unpleasant symptoms. Get your daily dose from nutritional yeast, muesli, avocados, pistachios, wheat germ, acorn squash, banana, quinoa, and/or sunflower seeds.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

This biologically imperative compound, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, fights inflammation by reducing the production of eicosanoids and cytokines. Find it in plant-based sources such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, edamame, and kidney beans.

Beta Carotene

Protect the “front lines” with another powerful antioxidant, beta carotene, a main source of vitamin A (retinol) which helps protect the skin against environmental damage. Find it in carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens such as kale or spinach, squash, cantaloupe, and red or yellow peppers.

Theobromine

Found in cacao products, theobromine is similar to caffeine but is not a central nervous system stimulant and, therefore, is non-addictive. This important alkaloid is found to lower blood pressure by dilating and widening blood vessels, improving blood flow, which contributes to the body’s natural flushing of toxins. Of course, it is found primarily in chocolate, however trace amounts can also be found in the kola nut and guarana berries.

Play Defense

We can further help the body fight against oxidative stress with pantry favorites including garlic, known to combat the common cold with its manganese, vitamins B6 and vitamin C; gingerol, a bioactive compound in ginger which acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant; turmeric, containing curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory which creates a more receptive territory for antioxidants in the body; and green tea, with its rich abundance of flavonoids which also provide strong anti-oxidative function in cells.

A strong network of healthy cells prepares the body to fight off toxins, infection, and disease. Building a stable immune system not only means less illness, but increased energy, more mood-boosting chemicals to the brain, and a sound cardiovascular system.

Stock up and sleep more soundly tonight. You and your family are worth it.

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