It’s hard to believe the first few months of the year have come and gone. By this time many well intentioned resolutions have been abandoned. Many of us are feeling like we have lost the battle once again. Perhaps it’s time to change the focus or drive that moves us to change. Is it for health reasons? To look better? To feel better? All of the above?
If it’s motivation you are looking for let’s start with your health, or more specifically your immune system. Why should you concern yourself with building a strong immune system? For those that are HIV+ it can help delay the onset of AIDS, improve drug response and tolerance, alleviate side effects of meds, and can prolong lifespan of those showing symptoms of AIDS.
Our body systems are all interconnected, no system functions independently. When we improve one area there is a ripple effect to other systems. When a virus is present our immune system is overstimulated and working overtime. This situation requires a constant need for energy and nutrients. It’s important to replenish the body with nutrients that feed the immune system otherwise it becomes weak and lacks the resources to put up a good fight.
Antioxidants have gained much attention in the news headlines in the last several years. They consist of nutrients like Vitamins A,C,E, zinc and selenium. Others like the B vitamins, especially B6 and B12, iron and copper (very small amounts), protein and healthy fats are also important. All of these nutrients are usually found to be deficient in those with HIV/AIDS; speeding up the rate of disease and risk of infections.
Whole foods will be our focus here. Refined foods containing white flour and sugar offer little nutritional value and can rob our nutrient stores further. Too many saturated and processed fats slow down the immune system further complicating the problem.
There is no start and finish, it’s a change for the long haul. Most people fail at making positive change because they set their goals too high, too soon. Take it slow!
The following chart highlights some foods that you can start incorporating into your daily meals.
Nutrients Food Sources
- Vitamin A Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Egg Yolks, Prunes, Broccoli
- Protein Beef, Fish, Chicken, Beans, Lentils, Eggs
- Healthy Fats Salmon, Hemp Seed, Flaxseed, Pumpkin Seeds
- Vitamin C Citrus, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Red/Green Peppers
- Vitamin B6 Tuna, Cod, Beans, Prunes, Bananas
- Vitamin E Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Olives, Papaya
- Vitamin B12 Fish, Yogurt, Beef
- Selenium Cod, Shrimp, Mushrooms, Brazil Nuts, Oats, Brown Rice
- Zinc Beef, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Yogurt, Peas
Choosing to include healthier foods into your diet is a good first step to building your immune system. Other factors that negatively impact the immune system are sedentary lifestyle, high stress, lack of sleep, poor bowel function, smoking, and alcohol consumption. More on that later.
By: Lisa Darchiville
Lisa is a Holistic Nutritionist and Caterer. Through consultation, cooking workshops and catering, she demonstrates that healthy food can be healing and delicious!