Ways to enhance your immune system – Part 2

“When you’re happy, your immune system is at its strongest point. And when you think negatively, or when you hate, or allow yourself to grow emotionally out of control, you are weakening your immune system.” – Frederick Lenz
“Exercise also causes immune cells to be more effective.” – Farshad Fani Marvasti
With COVID-19 still active and new viruses and other pandemics expected to emerge, people are searching for ways to enhance their immune systems. This is the first article of a series where we explore ways you can support your immune system to help fight off infectious diseases and even slow the aging process!
Your  immune system is a very complex system that  combats viruses, bacteria and other pathogens! Since your immune system  has many parts, not just a single component,  technically  there is no magic vaccine, substance or technique which guarantees protection from all pathogens or diseases. However, your immune system can be helped  to run more efficiently in order to ward off diseases and help prolong your life. First, it is essential to keep your immune system as strong and effective as possible by living a healthy lifestyle. Easy to say, but what exactly is a “healthy lifestyle”?
Healthy Living Strategies
Healthy living strategies you can follow to help  your immune system include:
⦁ Eat a balanced, healthy diet 
Eat a balanced, healthy diet almost every day, unless you are fasting, that has few or no refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, avoid overly processed foods laced with food additives and trans fats as much as possible while including five to nine different fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of protein and “healthy” fats and oils. But what specifically are “healthy” fats?
“Healthy” fats are found mainly in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. One way to recognize these fats, when removed from the foods in which they occurred, is they are liquid at room temperature, not solid. This rules out some of our tasty favourites like butter and bacon. We bend this rule, by treating ourselves to a limited amount of these black-listed culinary delights, but only once per week! After all, no use following a diet you can’t or won’t stick too.
If you are serious about remaining loyal to the good fats, you had best do a little homework. Actually, we have summarized your good facts homework below. Read and remember, or re-read frequently!
There are two categories of good fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils. The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts and canola oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are also believed to offer protection against heart disease. Good sources of linoleic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower and walnut oils.
Two controversial food groups
Two controversial food groups often recommended by dieticians and many medical authorities, are grains and dairy.  However, more recent research has pointed to potential health problems with these food groups due to food allergies and sensitivities, additives and genetic-engineering concerns.  In a future article, we will cover ways to help you determine if these food groups or other foods are good for you and outline food alternatives.
Do you have trouble eating the recommended five to nine servings of fruits (including berries) and vegetables everyday day? We certainly do! Most fruit also has a high sugar content, which is also a concern to many. Here’s our not-so-secret strategy that ensures we get way more than nine servings of fruits and vegetables most days. We have found that making one smoothie with berries, which are surprisingly low in sugar, and selective fresh or powered veggies and herbs plus protein power, gets us well past the daily minimums while creating a drink that actually tastes good!  We will disclose some of our better smoothie recipes in future posts.

  1. Exercise regularly 
    You knew this was coming! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends, as do most other health, medical and fitness organizations, you get both types of the exercises:
    Aerobic activity Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of both spread out during the week. Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, walking up and down stairs, gardening and any other activity that gets you breathing a little heavier than usual. In case you are wondering, vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, swimming and aerobic dancing.
    Remember, even smaller amounts of physical activity help. If you don’t have time for a 20-minute brisk walk, just do a few five-minute brisk walks instead. Park a little further away from where you work or shop, or leave your vehicle at home, whenever possible, and brisk walk or bike instead!
    Strength training. Do strength training exercises that include all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Do one to three sets of each exercise, using enough weight or resistance to tire your muscles after 12 to 15 repetitions. Be creative and vary your strength training to prevent boredom or other excuses. There are many options, pick some that appeal to you, and stick with them. For example, you can use of your own body weight, such as push ups and sit ups, or weight machines at a gym, or resistance tubing that can be used any where or resistance paddles in water or activities such as rock climbing or scrambling.
    Here are some of Dale’s favourites: When the weather is miserable or he just needs to get a fast combined aerobic and leg strengthening workout he utilizes stair climbing. Stair walking not only provides great aerobic exercise, it helps strengthen his legs, increases endurance and improves his balance, all essential for maintaining elder legs. Dale’s a mountain hiker and scrambler, but it’s not possible to be in the mountains all the time, so he brings the mountain, well at least a substitute, to him – stairs!  He also snow-shoes and cross-country skies in the winter – which lasts a long time in Canada, where he lives!
    One of the biggest threats to your health, is your backside
    If you sit on it too much and most of us do! The more hours you spend sitting each day, the higher your risk of health problems and a shorter life span (nice way of saying pre-mature death). Sorry, but you deserve the truth, and that’s what we are here to give you. Even brief periods of activity offer benefits and  any activity is better than none. What’s most critical is having regular physical activity as part of your lifestyle.
    In future posts we will also cover another essential type of fitness, which we call Flexercise, that includes activities like Yoga, Tia Chi, Aging Backwards and stretching routines, which not only improve your immune system, but also you mind and emotional resilience.
    What types of exercise do you do regularly? What benefits has exercise done for your health?
    Please share your comments, questions and suggestions in our Caring Connections forum under the Body category. By doing so, you can help encourage other Thrivers to start or continue exercising regularly.
    You can also tag your comments ‘Exercise’, ‘Health’ , ’Longevity’, ‘Immune System’
    To go to Caring Connections, click on the button below:
    [Insert Caring Connections button]