About Lori Brothers ...

Lori Brothers writes about healthy living for The News. Her blog appears each Thursday on www.ncnewsonline.com.

A good friend recently emailed me this question: “Winter will be here soon, and my question is what steps should I be taking to boost my immune system?”

My answer begins with some of my own choices. I continue to drink my fresh brewed green tea, fresh and hot delivers the most potent antioxidants. I practice breath awareness several times per day to relax my nervous system. I follow my craving for “cuties,” the little mandarin oranges that are easy to peel, for vitamin C.

Other hints to boost your immune system include:

•Cinnamon: the antibacterial and antiviral properties and cinnamon has been used to boost immune systems for thousands of years. Sprinkle on yogurt, oatmeal or apples.

•Pears: great source of fiber, which promotes both immune and digestive system health.

•Kiwi has even more vitamin C than oranges.

•Sweet potatoes and carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and the antioxidant, beta-carotene. See the soup recipe for this week for a delicious way to add these to your diet.

Just a note, drinking too much alcohol can inhibit the function of white blood cells, so don’t abuse alcohol or recreational drugs, or the result may be lowering your resistance to infection.

According to WebMD, the immune system is your body’s natural defense system. It’s an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that band together to defend your body against invaders. Those invaders can include bacteria, viruses, parasites, even a fungus, all with the potential to make us sick.

It’s the immune system’s job to produce white blood cells, and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy these foreign substances.

Lifestyle is most important to building and maintaining a healthy immune system. Living well creates the right dynamic for producing immunity. A daily walk, mindful eating and plenty of rest are the building blocks to a strong immune system.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Treat your body like a temple, not a woodshed.” Think of yourself as an intricate building with beautiful marble pillars and gold gilding that, over time, needs to be lovingly maintained, polished, restored and repaired. The alternative, not lovingly caring for your “temple,” can leave you looking and feeling like a run-down shack. Uugg!

Don’t let everyday bad habits chip away at your defenses. Make the time to give your body the benefits and rewards of good habits. Stress management isn’t only about relieving perceived stress. It is a recovery process that includes restorative activity, nutrient dense foods, and consistent exercise.

Restorative work includes regular stress management. If your house is weathered and needs repairs from wear and tear, you’d fix and maintain it. Good habits are the combat tools and materials to shine, repair and restore the wear and tear on your body.

If you are willing to get moderate exercise, such as walking 30 minutes 5 days per week, you will be stimulating germ-fighting cells called “neutrophils” which are released during moderate exercise, and up to three hours after you exercise. Take time to walk daily. Every time you work out you defend yourself against getting sick. Moderation and consistency are key.

Direct the nervous system to cooperate with the immune system by tuning into your parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response). Restorative activity includes calming practices of breathing, stretching and relaxing are toning to the nervous system. Gentle stretches and breathing with your immune system to recover, recharge and rejuvenate.

Instead of avoiding germs, get out there with family and friends to have fun and socialize. Spending too much time on the couch instead of engaging in social activities has proven to weaken the immune system.

The positive hormones, endorphins, from connecting and caring for others, are powerful contributors to boosting your immune system.

Curried Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots or sweet onion
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch) sliced peeled carrots
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (or according to taste)
  • 3 cups (non-tomato based) veggie broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add potato, carrots, ginger, and curry; cook 2 minutes.

Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender; stir in salt.

Pour half of soup in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.

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