Healthy nutrition: How to boost your immune system
We all agree that a balanced diet is one of the primary factors for a healthy body.
So we know the theory, but do we put it into practice? How many of us are really aware that we occidentals have been over-eating the wrong foods for such a long time?
Today more than 2 billion people in the world can be defined as overweight, and 700 million of them have exceeded the threshold of obesity(1). It is estimated that 17.5 million people died as a result of cardiovascular problems in 2012, in other words 31% of all deaths worldwide (2).
In just 35 years (between 1980 and 2014) of this morbid dietary opulence, the number of people suffering from diabetes worldwide has increased from 4.7% to 8.5% (3).
The overweight, but also more often obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia or metabolic syndrome disorders are oddly “not scary enough”.
We believe that malnutrition is a term used only for the poor people living in underdeveloped countries, without realizing the big mistake, the real elephant in the room.
We too are MAL-NOURISHED!
We live in a ‘sea of food’, but full of empty calories and without any beneficial power.
Although it is well ‘scientifically’ established that cardiovascular diseases, as well as others, are directly related to unhealthy nutrition and an inactive lifestyle(4), we do nothing to get better!
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used to say “Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food”. So if we can get sick because of bad nutrition, we can also cure diseases with a healthy diet.
Let’s boost your immune system
In the last 7 months we have witnessed a phenomenon that is affecting the lives of almost the whole world, in which the media have participated without conveying any really adequate advice.
Governments, institutions, “specialists” have told the population that “everything will be fine”, as long as we know how to protect ourselves. Right, but only in principle.
It is unforgivable that the media, governments and doctors in addition to indicating uneffective protection measures, have missed a very important opportunity to explain how to raise the “real” shield able to defend the castle from within: I am referring to how to boost your immune system.
It was really the right time to allow humanity to make a qualitative and cultural leap, but unfortunately this was not the case.
To boost your immune system, you don’t have to run to the pharmacy and fill up on vitamin, mineral and antioxidant supplements; just eliminate “the oxidants” namely inflammatory foods and improve your lifestyle and eating habits.
Despite the urgency of the situation, I understand that the following advice is not as easy as wearing the mask; but we can no longer postpone our task, I hope this is now clear to everyone, besides the fact that we are all alone on this path.
What we have been experiencing in industrialized countries is a serious and real dependence on food; moreover, besides being legal, it is also well accepted and, indeed, stimulated by society itself.
I know that the road, at least at the beginning, will be upwind or, uphill if you like: to eliminate, but also simply to decrease the quantity of meat or sweets, carbonated or soft drinks, refined, processed, industrial food, with too much fat and exaggeratedly salty (5) is an arduous undertaking, perhaps much more than it is to quit drinking or smoking. But as said before, we must be wise and strong, counteracting the mistakes of governments and medical institutions.
The truth is that the only powerful weapon that can defend us from pathogens of all times can be built from the inside: on the other hand, it is clear that even in the worst plagues humanity has not been extinct, and not thanks to miracle drugs; those who did it simply had a more efficient immune system.
Less is More
We need to switch back and start eating less bad food and more quality food. We should reduce the portions and dishes, which would be fine if you were a professional athlete or a “miner”. Let’s be realistic, most of our life passes in front of a desk or a screen, we just can’t eat like our ancestors used to burn calories. There is no more time to hide behind puerile excuses like spoiled children, overeating can be as fatal as malnutrition: I repeat, every year we have almost 18 MILLION deaths from cardiovascular problems alone.
Buying tasty junk food is inexpensive, but only momentarily… The real bill will not be long in coming: when you can’t make two floors of stairs without becoming red in face or when you are taking 3 pills every day even if you are only 40 years old, it means that you are already paying the debts of your past. Of course the pills you are taking are not used to cure the disease that make you feel sick, but only its symptoms.
So before you become a perfect customer of Big Pharma, take care of yourself, for a long lasting well-being!
The steps to follow
I don’t expect you to become a healthy eating guru from one day to the next, but you can improve your habits gradually. Below you can find some easy ideas that you can implement and that will bring you immediate benefits, not only for boosting your immune system, but also for your wallet. Because eating well is not a luxury for the few, but it is the prerogative of those who are aware and I am here to increase your awareness.
– Limit or eliminate the consumption of meat and animal products
Buy only animal products that are derived from small and/or local farms: A diet rich in animal fat and other lifestyle risk factors such as physical inactivity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption have been estimated to account for 80% of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and for one-third of cancers (6).
Remember that products deriving from intensive farming cannot offer you a healthy life: it is not logical to think that animals stuffed with drugs, antibiotics, without any sun exposure and natural fodder, can provide well-being!
Intensive farming is unfortunately the shame of humanity, and its products are harmful to human health.
But if you are not ready to become vegetarian, simply limit their use to a few days of the month. The other days cook one of the many tasty meat replacing recipes you can do at home easily and without spending a lot. Take a look at some of these recipes from here.
– When buying fish, choose those from sustainable fishing
Fish is very beneficial for our health; however, fish reserves tend to run out due to excessive and illegal fishing. Never buy juveniles which are smaller than the parameters (refer to Greenpeace charts) and prefer fish such as sardines, mullets and cuttlefish instead of grouper and swordfish that everyone wants to get.
– Do not buy refined food
Refined wheat, cereals, sugar and all the products that derive from these first ingredients such as white bread, are too “good and tasty” so they easily become addictive; for this reason we tend to consume them without control. In a short while, overeating these foods create a chronic generalized inflammatory state, in which bacteria and viruses love to attack us. Instead, choosing wholemeal variants and reducing the consumption will make us feel much better, full of energy and strength.
HEALTHY TIP: Instead of white bread or pasta, opt for whole wheat bread, pasta or similar. Instead of white granulated sugar, prefer brown sugar or molasses; use whole-wheat rice instead of white rice. Instead of potato starch prefer potato. And decrease the salt intake.
– Do not buy ready-made and/or packaged foods
All sorts of foods that can be eaten after just heating are to be avoided; preparing them at home with the right amount of salt and fat, without preservatives, thickeners, colorants, flavorings, emulsifiers would already be the first step towards a healthier and more balanced diet.
HEALTHY TIP: Don’t go for ready pizzas, french fries, pastas and lasagnas, soups, pastries, animal or plant based meatballs, etc. Instead of buying, make them at your home with healthy recipes and ingredients. Instead of using bouillon cubes or granules, use vegetables or other to make them at home, although they may seem you “less” tasteless, because they won’t contain taste enhancers. Don’t drink fruit juices, even if they don’t contain added sugars, just prefer eating the fruits. For more consult the CHEtarian Diet.
– Do not buy ready-made sweets and snacks
Cakes, croissants, tarts, ice cream, cookies, chips, saltines, etc. are so tasty; all too easy to exceed in their consumption. No breakfast with croissants, nor with cookies or snacks (discover here how should be an ideal breakfast); it does not matter if they are wholegrain or without sugar and fat. If you cannot do without, produce them yourself, reducing the quantity of risky ingredients and limiting their consumption.
HEALTHY TIP: If you are craving for a dessert, put a spoonful of tahini and grape molasses on a piece of bread, but don’t eat a portion of cheesecake. It is less harmless to eat some cheese over a slice of toasted whole wheat bread, than having a muffin for breakfast. Overnight oatmeal prepared with yoghurt or plant based milks will also be a healthy suggestion. Are you starving and there are still two hours to dinner? Instead of eating a bag of salty crackers or fried peanuts, eat some bread and olives.
– Eat more fermented food instead
Preferably made by yourself, such as yogurt, kefir, fermented pickles, bread with sourdough, or fermented olives and so on. Our micro biota has an enormous importance in raising the defensive barrier against pathogens of all kinds, and it particularly likes foods with prebiotic and probiotic characteristics, such as those just mentioned.
– Eat only seasonal fruits and vegetables
Seasonal fruits and vegetables contain less pesticides, cost less and are richer in antioxidants. Stay away from salad, vegetables already cut and fruit already portioned sold in plastic bags. In addition to unnecessarily polluting the environment and paying more for them, you will have a food that is very poor in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
– Improve your culinary skills
Stop spending your time on online shopping or gaming websites or watching soap operas or sports. Dedicate your time to creating meals that will delight and nourish all your loved ones. Because even those who complain about having little time with a little organization will realize that eating well is not only a luxury for homemakers. Here you will find many tasty recipes, healthy, balanced and designed just to feel good.
– Spend time outdoors
Not only for healthy physical activity but also to reload your reserves of precious vitamin D. Its deficiency was believed to cause only rickets in children and osteopenia, osteoporosis and fractures in adults, but recent research is showing that vitamin D deficiency can also be associated with an increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, infectious diseases (7) but also infectious diseases related to the respiratory tract (8). Unless you live in the Nordic countries where the sun disappears for months and where you may need to get Vitamin D through supplements, in our latitudes all you need is to expose most of your body surface to the sun for at least 15 minutes, approximately from 10 am to 3 pm: every day and without sun protection.
– Do not be afraid to take vitamin C (if you do not suffer from kidney stones)
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a key compound of the antioxidant system in cells and tissues. It is well established that both bacterial and viral infections such as Covid19 cause excessive cytokine production; this phenomenon is called “storm of cytokines”(9). A number of studies show that a massive dose of Vit-C produces positive clinical results in the treatment of viral ARDS (Acute Respiratory Disturbance Syndrome) and influenza (10,11), therefore also for the treatment of Covid19 (12, 13, 14, 15) . The doses recommended by WHO are insufficient to support a healthy and efficient life even when you are sane, not to mention when you are in a storm of cytokines! Fruits and vegetables that we have available arrive on the shelves already with reduced reserves of vitamin C; and since the human body does not synthesize it, but uses it in various biological processes of the highest value, it is good not to skimp. My husband and I have been taking large doses of Vitamin C for years: in addition to receiving a great deal of energy, we almost never get sick.
Clearly I do not pretend to have exhausted such an important topic as the boosting of the immune system, but if you can take these steps you will already be on the way to “healing”.
You just have to have the patience to RESIST to the temptation of food: REVOLUTIONS require some sacrifice. If you have any further questions or concerns, you can also write to me.
Good boosting and good revolution to all.
(1) AIFA Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco
(2) The GBD (Global Burden of Disease) 2015 Obesity Collaborators – “Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 years,” studio disponibile su: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa16143627
(3) Fonte: World Health Organisation – Global report on diabetes – 2016
(4): Mozaffarian D. Dietary and Policy Priorities for Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity: A Comprehensive Review. Circulation2016;133:187-225. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018585 pmid:26746178Abstract/FREE Full TextGoogle Scholar
(5): Rico-Campà Anaïs, Martínez-González Miguel A, Alvarez-Alvarez Ismael, Mendonça Raquel de Deus, de la Fuente-Arrillaga Carmen, Gómez-Donoso Clara et al. Association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and all cause mortality: SUN prospective cohort study BMJ 2019; 365 :l1949
(6): Abete I, Romaguera D, Vieira AR, Lopez de Munain A, Norat T. Association between total, processed, red and white meat consumption and all-cause, CVD and IHD mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Br J Nutr. 2014;112: 762–775. doi: 10.1017/S000711451400124X [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
(7) Nair, Rathish, and Arun Maseeh. “Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin.” Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics vol. 3,2 (2012): 118-26. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95506
(8) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, Greenberg L, Aloia JF, Bergman P et al. BMJ. 2017;356:i6583.
(9) A.A. Fowler III, C. Kim, L. Lepler et al. Intravenous vitamin C as adjunctive therapy for enterovirus/rhinovirus induced acute respiratory distress syndrome. World J. Crit. Care Med., 6 (1) (2017), pp. 85-90
(10) Zarubaev, V. V., et al. “Protective activity of ascorbic acid at influenza infection.” INFEKTSIYA I IMMUNITET 7.4 (2017): 319-326.
(11) Gonzalez, Michael J., et al. “High dose vitamin C and influenza: a case report.” J. Orthomol. Med 33.3 (2018).
(12) A. Erol High-dose Intravenous Vitamin C Treatment for COVID-19. OSF Preprints (2020), 10.31219/osf.io/p7ex8
(13) A.S. Fauci, H.C. Lane, R.R. Redfield. Covid-19—navigating the uncharted. N. Engl. J. Med. (2020), 10.1056/NEJMe2002387
(14) L. Zhang, Y. Liu Potential interventions for novel coronavirus in China: a systematic review J. Med. Virol. (2020), 10.1002/jmv.25707
(15) G. Zhang, C. Hu, L. Luo, F. Fang, Y. Chen, J. Li, Z. Peng, H. Pan Clinical features and outcomes of 221 patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China medRxiv (2020), 10.1101/2020.03.02.20030452
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