What are the Effects of Aging on Your Immune System? 50 Resources to Better Understand How the Immune System Changes As We Age
Nutrition, Immunity, and Aging

What are the Effects of Aging on Your Immune System? 50 Resources to Better Understand How the Immune System Changes As We Age

Your immune system plays a critical role in your health, as it protects you from infections and disease. Composed of specialized cells, proteins, tissue, and organs, the immune system works to protect us from invading microorganisms and germs each and every day.

Can You Get Sick from Lack of Sleep? How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Immune System
immune system defense lines

Can You Get Sick from Lack of Sleep? How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Immune System

People who do not get enough sleep are at a greater risk of developing serious health issues like heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. By some accounts, 90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition.

What are the Immune System Lines of Defense?
immune system defense lines

What are the Immune System Lines of Defense?

The immune system, a network of cells, tissues, and organs, protects the body from infection and disease. Invading viruses, bacteria, and other microbes try to invade the body, and the immune system targets them while leaving healthy tissues alone. The immune system does this by recognizing proteins on the surfaces of cells and responding in order to address the problem.

How Does the Immune System Protect the Body from Disease? 50 Free Resources to Understand the Power of the Immune System

How Does the Immune System Protect the Body from Disease?

50 Free Resources to Understand the Power of the Immune System

What is Digestive Health and How Can You Improve It?

What is Digestive Health and How Can You Improve It?

Digestive health is the optimal functioning of the body's digestive tract.

What are the Dangers of Taking Antibiotics?

About Antibiotics Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobials or antibacterials, are strong medications that treat infections caused by germs (certain parasites and bacteria). Antibiotics do not work against illness caused by viruses, such as the flu or common cold. Antibiotics also do not work against fungi such as thrush in the vagina or mouth or against fungal skin infections. Antibiotics come in several forms including capsules, tablets, or liquids, and in certain cases, such as hospitalization due to a severe infection, they may be administered via injection. For certain skin infections, antibiotics may be administered in the form of lotions, ointments, or creams. If antibiotics are not taken the right way, they may cause more harm than good.

Risks of the Overuse of Antibiotics Recently, antibiotic treatments have been found to be less effective for certain types of bacterial infections. When an antibiotic does not have an effect on certain strains of bacteria, they are called antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When bacteria survive antibiotic treatment, they can multiply and even transfer those drug-resistant properties to different bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is a concerning trend that is influenced by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The general public, doctors and hospitals all play a role in ensuring proper use of the drugs and minimizing the development of antibiotic resistance.” Antibiotic resistance is promoted by an overuse of antibiotics, especially when they are prescribed for ailments for which antibiotic treatment isn't appropriate. Antibiotics should be used to treat only bacterial infections, not infections caused by viruses. Strep throat, for instance, is an appropriate use case for antibiotics, but these medications shouldn't be used for the typical sore throat, as most are caused by viruses. If you take antibiotics for a viral infection, the antibiotic still attacks bacteria in your body – both disease-causing bacteria and the healthy bacteria in the gut and other areas of the body that do not contribute to disease but help to maintain the balance required for the optimal functioning of the body's physiological systems.

Dangers to Patients Treated with Antibiotics  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least two million people in the U.S. annually “acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat those infections.” In addition, approximately 23,000 people die annually due to antibiotic-resistant infections. There are an increasing amount of drug-resistant infections which may result in:

  • Treatments that are more expensive
  • Treatments that are more invasive, less effective, or both
  • More visits to the doctor
  • Hospitalizations that are longer or more frequent
  • A prolonged recovery
  • An increase in deaths from illnesses that were previously treatable
  • Illnesses or disabilities that are more serious

In addition to these very serious dangers of the overuse of antibiotics, patients taking antibiotic treatment often experience a number of unpleasant side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, stomach pain, and yeast infections. These side effects are a result of the loss of healthy bacteria in the gut, which maintains the proper balance of microflora to maintain digestive health and immunity. Additionally, some experts believe there is a link between repeated antibiotic therapy and the risk of developing certain chronic diseases such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and even type 1 diabetes in children, as well as possible links between an out-of-balance bacterial environment (caused by antibiotic therapy) and cancer.

Avoiding the Dangers of Taking Antibiotics To avoid the dangers of taking antibiotics, some important things that may help include:

  • Only taking antibiotics as the doctor prescribes.
  • Taking the prescribed daily dosage and being sure to complete the entire course of your treatment, even if you are feeling better before you finish the medications.
  • Asking your doctor what to do if you forget to take one of your doses.
  • Taking probiotics to restore the healthy bacteria in your gut.
  • Throwing out any leftover antibiotics you may have. Never take leftover antibiotics from a previous illness.
  • Not taking someone else’s prescribed antibiotics.
  • Not asking, or pressuring, your doctor for an antibiotic prescription. Ask your doctor the best way to treat your symptoms.

Probiotics to Counter the Negative Effects of Antibiotics Antibiotics are made to destroy bacteria, however they don’t discriminate between the “bad” and “good” bacteria in the gut. When bacteria are killed as a result of antibiotic therapy, healthy bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut are thrown out of balance which results in the negative gastrointestinal side effects many patients experience. Additionally, an imbalance of bacteria can lower immune function and contribute to eczema, hormonal imbalance, anxiety, and other effects. One of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, particularly when you're taking a course of antibiotics, is by taking probiotic supplements. A natural probiotic supplement can strengthen your immune system and restore digestive health naturally, with each capsule containing 10.0 Billion colony forming units. While antibiotic therapy is sometimes necessary to restore health, supplementing your diet and exercise routine with probiotics or immune supplements can keep your immune system functioning at its best, warding off disease naturally to reduce the need for antibiotic treatment in the future. Images via Pixabay by Brett_Hondow and Mojpe  

50 Ways to Reduce Cancer Risk Naturally: Natural Options for Enhancing Immunity, Fighting Disease and Reducing Cancer Risk

Given the fact that nearly 14.5 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2014, there is a good chance that you have a friend or family member who has cancer. Cancer is the name for a group of diseases that occur when cells grow and spread uncontrollably. According to the American Cancer Society, "cancer is caused by external factors, such as tobacco, infectious organisms, and an unhealthy diet, and internal factors, such as inherited genetic mutations, hormones, and immune conditions. These factors may act together or in sequence to cause cancer." While not all cancers may be prevented, there are some that can be. For example, cancers caused by tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption can be prevented completely by lifestyle changes. There are other ways to prevent, or at least reduce, your risk of cancer naturally. Of course, if you have a family history of cancer or have medical issues or concerns, you should consult with your own medical professional for proper diagnosis. Most of the ways to reduce cancer risk include changing your eating habits, changing your exercise habits, and taking the right vitamins, supplements, and probiotics. We have gathered recommendations and suggestions from highly esteemed organizations, research institutes, medical doctors, medical professionals, and other leading sources of information to present 50 of the more effective ways to reduce cancer risk naturally. Please note, we have listed our top 50 ways to reduce cancer risk naturally here, in no particular order. 1. Filter your tap water @PreventionMag Prevention Prevention Magazine's Richard Laliberte offers tips for dramatically lowering your cancer risk in his article, 20 Ways to Never Get Cancer. Laliberte recommends filtering your tap water to reduce exposure to both known and suspected carcinogens and chemicals that can disrupt your hormones. Three key points we like from Prevention Magazine:

  • The President's Cancer Panel suggests filtered tap water at home is safer than bottled water
  • Store filtered water in stainless steel or glass containers
  • Avoid chemical contaminants such as BPA that can leach from plastic bottles

2. Eat resistant starches @readersdigest Readers Digest Known as America's most trusted magazine, Reader's Digest offers 30 ways to prevent cancer from Stealth Health's Katie Askew. The article shares cancer-fighting foods and lifestyle moves, and we especially like the recommendation of eating resistant starches. Three key points we like from Reader's Digest:

  • Resistant starch may help reduce the increased risk of colon cancer caused by a diet high in red meat
  • Resistant starch is found in foods such as green bananas, rolled oats, and white beans
  • Adding resistant starches every day while eating lean red meat helps cell proliferation in rectal tissue go back to normal

3. Maintain a healthy weight @EverydayHealth Everyday Health healthy weight Everyday Health strives to help readers take better care of themselves and their families with weight-loss tools, expert advice, and health news and information. One of their suggested ways of reducing breast cancer risk naturally is to maintain a healthy weight. Three key points we like from Everyday Health:

  • Obesity is a known risk factor for increasing your risk of developing breast cancer
  • Regular workouts help you burn fat, which produces estrogen, a known cause of breast cancer
  • Brisk walking is one way to help maintain a healthy weight

4. Avoid alcohol @DrMichaelMurray Dr Michael Murray A leading authority on natural medicine and author of more than 30 books, Dr. Michael Murray provides answers on health and healing. One of his recommended ways to reduce cancer risk naturally is to avoid alcohol. Three key points we like from Dr. Michael Murray:

  • Women who drink one alcoholic beverage per day have a 10% greater risk of breast cancer
  • Women who drink two alcoholic beverages per day have a 20% increased risk of breast cancer
  • The goal is to reduce your cancer risk factors while using dietary and lifestyle changes associated with breast cancer prevention

5. Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids @NCBI NCBI The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biological information. In this report, Carol Fabian, Bruce Kimler, and Stephen D. Hursting detail research findings on the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and breast cancer prevention and survivorship. Three key points we like from NCBI:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer
  • Omega-3 fatty acids aid in reducing inflammation, which may lead to cancer
  • Primary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish and supplements

6. Reduce risk of liver and colorectal cancer with probiotics @NewsmaxHealth Newsmax Health Newsmax Health shares news regarding total wellness for a better life. Nick Tate's Newsmax Health article, Probiotics May Help Combat Liver Cancer, shares the findings from a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: probiotics play a beneficial role in reducing gastrointestinal inflammation and preventing colorectal cancer. Three key points we like from Newsmax Health:

  • Probiotics have been found to combat liver cancer and colorectal cancer
  • Probiotics reduce liver tumor growth by blocking angiogenesis, or the process that involves tumors generating new blood vessels to spread and grow
  • Probiotics increase the anti-inflammatory bacteria and metabolites present in the gut, which may account for their ability to block tumor progression

7. Include flax in your diet @timesofindia Times of India The Times of India is India's number one digital news designation and the world's largest-selling English newspaper. Ipshita Mitra's Top 10 Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer is a Times of India article that includes the best food for preventing breast cancer risk in women, according to senior clinical nutritionist and coordinator for Fortis Memorial Research Institute Tina Sapra and Dr. Vandana Mathur, consulting nutritionist at Metropolis Healthcare in Mumbai. Flaxseed is one of their top ways to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from The Times of India:

  • You can eat flax as a whole seed, ground seed, or flaxseed oil
  • The omega-3s, lignans, and fiber in flaxseed form a protective shield against the cells responsible for causing breast cancer
  • Consider adding flax to yogurt or a smoothy or adding flaxseed oil to salad dressings or baked goods

8. Eat more tomatoes @PCRM Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards in research. One of their recommended ways to reduce cancer risk naturally is to eat more tomatoes, because they are a top source of lycopene. Lycopene is a free radical-fighting antioxidant that prevents free radicals from attaching to your cells and wreaking havoc on your immune system. Three key points we like from PCRM:

  • Lycopene helps prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers
  • Some evidence suggests that lycopene may help to reduce the risk of pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, breast, and cervix cancer
  • Tomatoes and tomato products, guava, watermelon, and pink grapefruit contain lycopene

9. Eat more garlic @WebMD WebMD WebMD and their medical team offer trustworthy and timely health news and information. Their article, Seven (Easy to Find) Foods that May Help Prevent Cancer, includes foods that increase your odds of preventing cancer and maximizing your health. Garlic is one of the superfoods they suggest eating as a way to reduce your cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from WebMD:

  • The sulfur compounds in garlic may prevent cancer-causing substances from forming in your body
  • Garlic fights bacteria, including H. pylori, the bacteria that is connected to some ulcers and stomach cancer
  • Garlic reduces the risk of colon cancer

10. Avoid tobacco @BerkeleyWell Berkeley Wellness Berkeley Wellness is a leading online source of evidence-based wellness information. One of their recommendations for reducing cancer risk naturally is to avoid tobacco. Quitting smoking or other tobacco use is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your health. Three key points we like from Berkeley Wellness:

  • Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer in addition to cancers of the esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidneys, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix
  • Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer
  • Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also increase cancer risk

11. Avoid excess protein Heal with Food avoid excess protein offers condition-specific nutrition guides to more than 50 common conditions and diseases. They promote healthy eating for a longer, healthier life. One of their recommended ways to reduce cancer risk naturally is to avoid excess protein, especially for lung cancer prevention. Three key points we like from

  • Avoid excessive amounts of protein if you want to minimize your risk of lung cancer, but keep in mind that a certain amount of protein is necessary for a healthy body
  • Pancreatic enzymes are able to destroy cancer cells, but high protein diets force pancreatic enzymes to focus on protein digestion rather than on the eradication of cancer
  • Some experts suggest a protein-free period of 12 hours each day to combat cancer

12. Increase your intake of antioxidants @theNCI National Cancer Institute The National Cancer Institute is the United States government's lead agency for cancer research. One of their recommended ways to reduce cancer risk naturally is to increase your intake of antioxidants, because they interact with and neutralize the free radicals, or highly reactive chemicals that can lead to the development of cancer. Three key points we like from NCI:

  • Antioxidant supplements reduce the risk of death from gastric cancer
  • While the body makes some antioxidants, our diet provides the rest of the antioxidants we need
  • Fruits, vegetables, and grains are rich sources of dietary antioxidants

13. Limit red and processed meat @helpguideorg HelpGuide offers practical, motivating information about mental health, relationships, and healthy living so that you can help yourself and others. Helpguides' Cancer Prevention Diet post explores the link between cancer and diet and suggests limiting red and processed meat as a way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from

  • Processed meats such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, pepperoni, and salami contain the highest cancer risk due to the nitrate preservatives and other substances used in processing the meat
  • Red meat lacks fiber and other nutrients that have cancer-protective properties
  • Industrially-raised meat often contains antibiotics and hormones, and the animals may have been raised on feed containing GMOs, which are markers for an increased cancer risk

14. Use aspirin and other NSAIDs @AmericanCancer American Cancer Society The American Cancer Society offers 24/7 cancer care and works toward a world free of cancer. While they admit there may be no way to prevent stomach cancer, the American Cancer Society reports that using aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs seems to lower the risk of stomach cancer. Three key points we like from the American Cancer Society:

  • Aspirin or other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may reduce the risk of stomach cancer
  • NSAIDs and aspirin can reduce the risk of developing colon polyps and colon cancer
  • Doctors do not recommend taking NSAIDs specifically to prevent stomach cancer, but it is an added benefit for patients who take them for other reasons, such as to treat arthritis

15. Get enough calcium and vitamin D @SitemanCenter Siteman Cancer Center The Siteman Cancer Center is a national cancer institute comprehensive cancer center and a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Their article, 8 Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer, explains that getting enough calcium and vitamin D is one way to reduce colon cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from Siteman Cancer Center:

  • People should take 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day
  • People should take about 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day
  • You should know whether you have a vitamin D deficiency, especially if you live in northern parts of the country, are elderly, are very overweight, or have darker skin

16. Eat more fat from plants than animals @MayoClinic Mayo Clinic eat plant fat Mayo Clinic is an integrated clinical practice, education, and research institution that specializes in treating patients. Their post, Prostate Cancer Prevention: Ways to Reduce Your Risk, explores ways to reduce your prostate cancer risk by making healthy choices that include exercising and eating a healthy diet, such as eating more fat from plants than animals. Three key points we like from Mayo Clinic:

  • Fats from animals are more likely to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer
  • Animal products containing animal fats include meat, lard, and butter
  • Consider using plant-based fats, such as olive oil instead of butter and nuts or seeds on salads instead of cheese

17. Increase your fiber intake @CancerCenter Cancer Treatments Centers of America The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) has been helping patients win the fight against cancer via advanced technology and a personalized approach for nearly 30 years. CTCA recommends increasing your fiber intake as a way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from CTCA:

  • Consume the National Cancer Institute's recommended 35 grams of fiber each day
  • Fiber helps you to decrease your risk of breast, colon, esophagus, mouth, ovarian, pharynx, rectum, stomach, and prostate cancers
  • Fiber helps you to reduce and/or absorb cancer-causing toxins

18. Eat lots of raw vegetables @AskDoctorSears Ask Dr Sears Ask Dr. Sears is a trusted resource for parents, so they can become better informed consumers of health care. In their post, 12 Dietary Changes to Lower Cancer Risk, the Ask Dr. Sears team suggests eating lots of raw vegetables as a natural way to reduce cancer risk. Three key points we like from As Dr. Sears:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce all kinds of cancer risks
  • Fruits and vegetables contain phenols, indols, flavones, cumines, and isothiocyanates, which naturally block carcinogens
  • The best vegetables are cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, mustard greens, kale, and cauliflower

19. Avoid gluten and wheat @DrHealthPress Doctors Health Press Doctors Health Press is a health news and advice site that aims to give readers the best alternative and natural health updates. Their post, Four Ways to Decrease Breast Cancer Risk Naturally, suggests avoiding gluten and wheat as a natural way to reduce cancer risk. Three key points we like from Doctors Health Press:

  • Wheat is the primary source of gluten, which can indirectly increase your risk of cancer
  • Wheat turns into sugar in your bloodstream, which feeds cancer cells
  • Gluten consumption can lead to gut inflammation, which impacts your immune system and can increase the risk of any type of cancer

20. Reduce inflammation with probiotics @MailOnline Daily Mail The Daily Mail shares the latest news, sports, entertainment, and science stories. Could Probiotics Ward Off Cancer? Increasing Levels of 'Good' Bacteria in the Intestines 'Slows and Stops the Disease Developing' is Lizzie Parry's Daily Mail article that shares information from studies that have found anti-inflammatory bacteria lowers the risk of cancer. In fact, doctors some day could prescribe probiotics as a way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from the Daily Mail:

  • The good bacteria found in probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties, which plays a critical role in reducing cancer risk
  • Microbiota may delay the onset of cancer, and probiotic supplements could prevent cancer from forming
  • "It is our hope that the use of probiotics-containing (supplements) would be a potential chemopreventative for normal humans, while the same type of microbiota would decrease tumor incidence in cancer susceptible populations"

21. Avoid dairy @GreenMedInfo Green Med Info GreenMedInfo is the world's largest evidence-based, open access, natural health resource, with more than 20,000 study abstracts. In this GreenMedInfo article, Dr. Madeleine M. Castellanos explains that one way to decrease breast cancer risk naturally is to avoid dairy. All dairy products are derived from milk, and milk has a natural growth factor that promotes the fast growth of cells. Three key points we like from GreenMedInfo:

  • Breast tissue is very sensitive to the growth factor, which encourages breast tissue to multiply more quickly and increases the chance for damaged cells to "slip by the body's repair mechanism"
  • Milk often contains higher levels of three natural estrogens, which is known to cause breast cancer
  • Cows often are fed grains grown with pesticides, which activate estrogen-sensitive tissues and cause the body to recognize them as a form of estrogen

22. Drink green tea @NatBeautyExpert Natural Beauty Expert Natural Beauty Expert shares advice on natural products. In her article for Natural Beauty Expert, Samantha Gemmell explains that drinking green tea is one way to reduce cancer risk naturally. She also recommends using cooler water to brew it and only steeping it for two minutes, for those people who find their green tea is too bitter. Three key points we like from Natural Beauty Expert:

  • Green tea is full of antioxidants
  • Green tea may prevent and treat breast cancer because of its vascular endothelial growth factor inhibiting properties
  • Regular green tea consumption is associated with reduced breast cancer risk

23. Eat more beans @aicrtweets American Institute for Cancer Research eat more beans The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) funds research and helps people make evidence-based choices to lower cancer risk. As part of their Foods that Fight Cancer series, the AICR recommends eating more beans and peas as a way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from AICR:

  • Legumes such as kidney and black beans, yellow split peas, and red lentils are rich in fiber and are a good source of protein, folate, and vitamin B
  • Dry beans and peas are resistant starch that is used by healthful bacteria in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids that protect colon cells
  • Legumes contain other health-promoting substances, like lignans and saponins and antioxidants, that protect against cancer

24. Try armpit cleansing @naturallysavvy Naturally Savvy Naturally Savvy, experts on everything organic and non-GMO, focuses on finding healthy product alternatives with clean ingredients. Their post, How to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk with Armpit Cleansing, tackles the controversy of using underarm deodorants and antiperspirants because of their possible link to breast cancer and suggests utilizing armpit cleansing as a natural way to reduce cancer risk. Three key points we like from Naturally Savvy:

  • After you stop using your current antiperspirant or deodorant, use a loofah when showering to remove dead skin and toxins from your armpits
  • Cleanse with aluminum-free baking powder and then apply natural deodorant
  • Replace deodorants and antiperspirants with DIY recipes or clean brands that are free of ingredients that may be linked to cancer

25. Reduce stress @HopkinsMedicine Johns Hopkins Johns Hopkins Medicine improves the health of the community and world by setting a standard of excellence in modern education, research, and clinical care. One of their recommendations for reducing cancer risk naturally is to reduce stress, whether you are a cancer survivor or have not yet been diagnosed with cancer. Three key points we like from Johns Hopkins:

  • Find practical ways to cope with stress that work for you and your lifestyle
  • Exercising or beginning yoga is one good way to to stay active and reduce stress
  • Explore your creative abilities, such as painting, drawing, writing, or ceramics, to keep your stress level at a minimum

26. Limit consumption of calorie-dense foods @PritkinCenter Pritkin Center The Pritkin Center is a wellness resort and spa that has well-documented success of their guests. Their article, The Top 10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Cancer, shares the results of a review of the findings of more than 7,000 studies that detail the 10 key life-style recommendations for reducing risk of many cancers. One of those suggestions is to limit consumption of calorie-dense foods, like fast food and processed food. Three key points we like from the Pritkin Center:

  • Avoid fast foods and dry, processed foods like chips and candy bars, bagels, pretzels, and dried cereals
  • Choose water-rich, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, hot cereals, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables
  • Avoid calorie-rich, sugary drinks also

27. Avoid weight gain after age 18 @HarvardHealth Harvard Health Harvard Health offers authoritative health information from Harvard Medical School, which includes the expertise of 11,000 faculty physicians and world-famous affiliated hospitals. Harvard Health's Seven Things You Should Know about Breast Cancer Risk suggests avoiding weight gain after age 18 as one way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from Harvard Health:

  • Healthy lifestyle choices continue to be linked to lower cancer risk
  • Weight gain is a risk factor for breast cancer after menopause; women who gained 20-30 pounds during adulthood were 40% more likely to develop breast cancer after menopause than women who gained no more than 5 pounds
  • Fat tissue keeps estrogen in the body, which is believed to aid in the development of breast cancer

28. Limit consumption of smoked, salted, and pickled foods @NoStomach4Cancr No Stomach for Cancer No Stomach For Cancer supports research and unites the "caring power of people worldwide affected by stomach cancer." Their post, Risk & Prevention of St0mach Cancer, details some of the behavior and lifestyle risks that people should avoid in order to naturally reduce their cancer risk, including limiting consumption of smoked, salted, and pickled foods. Three key points we like from No Stomach for Cancer:

  • Avoiding diets rich in smoked, salted, and pickled foods helps reduce the risk of stomach cancer because these foods may be cured using nitrites and nitrates that are associated with an increased risk of cancer
  • Smoked foods may absorb large amounts of tar, which contains cancer-causing compounds
  • Processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer

29. Drink pomegranate juice @Healthline Healthline Healthline is committed to being a trusted ally in the pursuit of health and wellbeing and offers information, guidance, inspiration, and caring for its readers. One of their articles, Prostate Procrastination: 6 Foods to Eat Today, recommends six foods, including pomegranate juice, that are prostate friendly and can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Three key points we like from Healthline:

  • Pomegranate is a rich source of antioxidants
  • The antioxidant in pomegranate works to seek out and destroy prostate cancer cells
  • Pomegranate juice and extract hinders the production of different prostate cancer cells

30. Balance blood sugar and body fat naturally @HPLifestyle HuffPost HuffPost Lifestyle shares style, travel, food, health, and home ideas. Dr. Nalini Chilkov's article, 7 Tips for Lowering Breast Cancer Risk by Balancing Blood Sugar and Body Fat Naturally, explains that it is possible to prevent breast cancer naturally by eating the right foods, exercising, and using herbs and supplements to manage blood sugar, body fat, and weight. Three key points we like from HuffPost Lifestyle:

  • Eat a diet low in sugars and sugary food by eliminating all refined sugars and sweets and limiting fruits to 1-2 daily servings of berries and apples
  • Consider lipoic acid in R form to improve insulin resistance and promote antioxidant activity
  • Use resistance exercise to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, rather than doing strenuous cardiovascular exercise

31. Lower your consumption of saturated fats @CR_UK Cancer Research UK Cancer Research UK drives life-saving research with the goal of curing all cancers. Their Diet and Breast Cancer page offers a wealth of information about natural ways to reduce cancer risk, including lowering your consumption of saturated fats. Saturated fat plays a role in increasing breast cancer risk. Three key points we like from Cancer Research UK:

  • Foods high in saturated dat includes fatty cuts of meat, butter and lard, cheese, sour cream, ice cream, chocolate products, cookies, cakes, and pastries
  • Women who ate higher levels of saturated fats double the risk of breast cancer compared to those eating the least
  • Opting for food containing fish oil have a lower breast cancer risk

32. Eat more avocados The Cancer Cure Foundation The Cancer Cure Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education in alternative cancer therapies. Their goal is to provide information about the availability of treatments, doctors, and clinics, and to assist them in gathering the information they need to make the best decision for their health. One of their recommended ways to reduce cancer risk naturally is to eat more avocados. Three key points we like from The Cancer Cure Foundation:

  • Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body
  • Avocados are a strong source of betacarotene
  • Avocados may help treat viral hepatitis, a cause of liver cancer

33. Limit sun exposure @besthealthmag Best Health Magazine Best Health Magazine is Canada's guide to health and wellness. Their article, 9 Tips for Preventing Oral Cancer, reminds us that there are steps we need to take to reduce our risk of oral and skin cancer, including limiting sun exposure. Three key points we like from Best Health Magazine:

  • Use UV-A/B-blocking sun protection on your lips when you are in the sun
  • Replace your regular lip gloss or moisturizer with a tinted or flavored UV-A/B-blocking sun protection for your lips
  • Limit your sun exposure because repeated exposure to the sun increases the risk of lip cancer

34. Use probiotics after colon polyp removal @aicrtweets American Institute for Cancer Research probiotics after colon polyp As early as 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research was recommending probiotics for cancer prevention. In her AICR nutrition notes, Karen Collins reports that patients who took probiotics after colon polyp removal had more healthy bacteria and less cancer-causing bacteria in their gut. Using probiotics after colon polyp removal is one way to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Three key points we like from AICR:

  • Probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium help to balance healthy colon bacteria and reduce the bacteria Clostridium, which is linked to an increased cancer risk
  • Patients taking probiotics after polyp removal showed decreased growth and reproduction of colon cells that increase the risk of colon cancer
  • Probiotics may be taken in the form of controlled doses of supplements

35. Avoid processed foods @HealthSite4U The Health Site The Health Site offers health advice anyone can use. Their article, 10 Ways to Change Your Food Habits and Prevent Cancer!, proposes that there are some things people can do to reduce their cancer risk because a large percentage of cancer-related deaths are linked to lifestyle and diet choices. One of the ways The Health Site suggests to reduce cancer risk naturally is to avoid processed foods. Three key points we like from The Health Site:

  • Food in its original form offers more protection than processed foods
  • Eat an orange rather than drinking orange juice
  • Processed fast food is higher in sugar and fat and increases the chances of developing colorectal cancer

36. Eat more grapefruit @joybauer Joy Bauer Author of From Junk Food to Joy Food and nutrition/health expert for NBC's TODAY Show, Joy Bauer shares 10 Foods that Can Help Prevent Cancer. She suggests that eating more grapefruit is one way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from Joy Bauer:

  • Grapefruit contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrogen compounds
  • Grapefruit and its vitamin C can reduce the risk of stomach, colon, esophagus, bladder, breast, and cervix cancer
  • Eat other fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, such as oranges, bell peppers, and broccoli

37. Choose probiotic supplements that combine multiple strains of bacteria @beatcancerorg BeatCancerorg proposes that 90% of all cancers can be eliminated through environment and lifestyle choices. Their article, The Role of Probiotics in Cancer, by Dr. Susan Silberstein, explains that probiotics provide a way to reduce cancer risk naturally when people take a probiotic supplement that combines multiple strains of bacteria to help optimize immune system performance and prevent cancer. Three key points we like from

  • When choosing a probiotic supplement, be sure that it has 30 billion microorganisms and combines multiple strains, including lactobacilli  and bifidobacteria
  • Probiotics provide a natural way to fight tumors, especially in protecting against colorectal cancer
  • Probiotics reduce the recurrence rate of bladder cancer

38. Eat more strawberries @truthaboutbigc The Truth about Cancer strawberries The Truth About Cancer (TTAC) is on a mission to educate the world and empower people with life-saving knowledge relating to all types of cancer treatments. In his TTAC article, Seven Foods that Fight Cancer Naturally, Ty Bollinger encourages readers to reduce cancer risk naturally by eating more strawberries. Three key points we like from TTAC:

  • Strawberries slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Strawberries lower inflammation, which has been linked to cancer
  • Strawberries help burn fat, which is an indirect cause of cancer

39. Avoid second-hand smoke @IrishCancerSoc Irish Cancer Society The Irish Cancer Society is Ireland's national cancer charity and provides cancer support, research, and advocacy. Their article, 12 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk, reminds readers that second-hand smoke increases the occurrence of lung cancer in non-smokers. Avoiding second-hand smoke is one way to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from The Irish Cancer Society:

  • Sharing a space with someone who smokes exposes you to second-hand smoke, which is associated with cancer
  • It is important to keep your home and workplace smoke free to reduce the risk of cancer caused by second-hand smoke
  • Non-smokers are at an increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease, due to second-hand smoke

40. Increase your soy intake @WHFoods The Worlds Healthiest Foods The World's Healthiest Foods is a project of the non-profit George Mateljan Foundation and offers recipes and practical tips for healthy eating. One of the ways they suggest to reduce your cancer risk naturally, especially when it comes to prostate cancer, is to increase your soy intake. Three key points we like from The World's Healthiest Foods:

  • Soy foods are the single most significant dietary influence reducing the number of deaths from prostate cancer
  • Soy foods contain isoflavones that regulate how the body responds to estrogens produced naturally by men and women
  • Soy foods also are associated with lower rates of breast cancer

41. Take probiotics @MDAndersonNews MD Anderson Cancer Center MD Anderson Cancer Center is a leader in cancer care and research and the fight to end cancer. In her MD Anderson Cancer Center article, Probiotics: Healthy Bacteria for Your Gut, Brittany Cordeiro explains that the good bacteria in probiotics may help lower your risk for several cancers. That's why taking probiotics is one of the best ways to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from MD Anderson Cancer Center:

  • "Probiotics help your immune system function at its best so it can detect and kill cells that can become cancer," ~ Stephanie Maxson, senior clinical dietitian in integrative medicine at MD Anderson
  • Studies show that people with colon cancer had an unhealthy population of gut bacteria before they developed cancer
  • Probiotics' anti-inflammatory effects may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells

42. Wear Sunscreen @preventcancer Prevent Cancer Foundation The Prevent Cancer Foundation saves lives through cancer prevention and early detection. They also offer 10 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk, an article that encourages people to take steps to reduce their cancer risk as part of their a prevent cancer campaign. Their simple steps to reduce cancer risk naturally include wearing sunscreen. Three key points we like from The Prevent Cancer Foundation:

  • Skin cancer is the most common and most preventable form of cancer
  • Limit sun exposure and protect your head and neck, where most skin cancers appear
  • Wear a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation

43. Get regular medical care @MayoClinic Mayo Clinic regular care Mayo Clinic is ranked number one in more specialties than any other hospital in the United States. They also are known for their patient care, which includes sharing important health information like their article, Cancer Prevention: 7 Tips to Reduce Your Risk. One of their suggested ways to reduce cancer risk naturally is to get regular medical care. Three key points we like from Mayo Clinic:

  • Regular exams and screenings for cancers such as skin cancer, colon cancer, cervix cancer, and breast cancer can increase your chances of discovering cancer early
  • Treatment is most likely to be successful when you discover cancer early
  • Discuss which cancer screening schedule is best for you with your doctor

44. Eat olive oil and dark leafy greens daily @mindbodygreen mindbodygreen Mindbodygreen seeks to "revitalize the way people eat, move, and live." In her Mindbydgreen article, An 8-Step Plan for Preventing Breast Cancer, Dr. Aviva Romm promotes good general health and offers tips for reducing the risk of diabetes, hear disease, and colon cancer as well as breast cancer. Eating olive oil and dark leafy greens on a daily basis is one of Dr. Romm's ways to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from Mindbodygreen:

  • A wide variety of fruits and vegetables and good-quality fats like olive oil helps protect against breast cancer
  • Dr. Romm recommends two tablespoons of olive oil daily
  • Studies show a lower risk of breast cancer in women who consume olive oil regularly, while women who consume saturated fat have an increased risk of breast cancer

45. Boost your immune system with probiotics @truthaboutbigc The Truth about Cancer The Truth About Cancer's Ty Bollinger explores the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome in his article, Bacteria is Best: Why a Healthy Gut Microbiome is Key to Cancer Prevention. As Bollinger explains, the immune system plays a role in keeping your body cancer free, and probiotics boost the immune system to help it do so. That's why boosting your immune system with probiotics is one of the best ways to reduce cancer risk naturally. Three key points we like from TTAC:

  • The beneficial bacteria in your microbiome play an important role in cancer remediation and prevention
  • A poor diet, environmental pollution, chronic stress, lack of sleep, and antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in your gut that the body relies on for proper immune function; this compromised microbiome leads to tumor growth and cancer
  • Microbiome damage significantly impacts cancer development, and taking probiotics replaces good bacteria in the micro biome and helps boost the immune system to combat cancer

46. Know your body @NHSChoices   NHS Choices NHS Choices is the official site of the English National Health Service. Their article, Reduce Your Cancer Risk, explains that 4 in 10 cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes. One of the ways to lower your cancer risk naturally is to know your body. Three key points we like from NHS Choices:

  • You know your body better than anyone, so self exams will help you to recognize potential symptoms of cancer
  • Look for lumps or unexplained bleeding
  • Get advice from a medical professional about your findings, to determine whether they are serious

47. Eat orange foods @Care2Healthy Care2 Healthy Living Care2 Healthy is a feed featuring thousands of ways to enhance your life through food and recipes, health and wellness, and pets. Their article, 8 Natural Ways to Help Prevent Cancer, offers ways to proactively reduce cancer risk, including eating more orange foods. This way to reduce cancer risk naturally should be an important part of your regular diet. Three key points we like from Care2 Healthy:

  • Harvard University studies show that people who eat a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet have a 32% reduction in risk of cancer
  • Carotenoids are found in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, papaya, peaches, squash, and other yellow-orange foods
  • Betacarotene, lutein, and lycopene are specific types of carotenoids

48. Eat more raspberries Heal with Food raspberries shares foods that help reduce pancreatic cancer risk in the article, 16 Foods that Help Prevent Pancreatic Cancer. One of their suggestions for reducing cancer risk naturally is to eat more raspberries. Three key points we like from

  • Daily consumption of red raspberries helps prevent pancreatic cancer because of their high concentration of ellagic acid
  • Ellagic acid is a proven anti-carcinogen, anti-mutagen, and inhibitor of cancer
  • Red raspberries may also cause cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells

49. Get 300 minutes of exercise weekly @EverydayHealth Everyday Health 300 minutes Everyday Health wants readers to live your healthiest life every day. Dr. Linda B. White's Everyday Health article, 5 Natural Strategies to Help Prevent Breast Cancer, offers information for helping you reduce cancer risk naturally so that you can life healthfully. One of Dr. White's suggestions is to get 300 minutes of exercise weekly. Three key points we like from Everyday Health:

  • Physical inactivity contributes to 9% of breast cancer cases
  • People who are more physically active reduce their risk of breast cancer and other cancers and diseases, including heart disease and osteoporosis
  • 300 minutes of exercise per week is a target amount of exercise that may include brisk walking, playing tennis or Frisbee, swimming, cycling, dancing, or raking leaves, to the plot that your heart rate quickens

50. Eat more selenium @TrueActivist True Activist Amanda Frolic's True Activist article, 10 Natural Ways to Prevent Prostate Cancer, reports that 1 in 6 men will contract prostate cancer. Yet, there is a variety of things men may do to increase their health and reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer. One of the ways to reduce the risk of prostate cancer naturally is to eat more selenium. Three key points we like from True Activist:

  • Selenium is a beneficial mineral that combats a variety of cancers
  • Selenium is a powerful antioxidant found in brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, garlic, broccoli, and whole grains
  • Studies show that patients receiving selenium had a 67% decrease in prostate cancer, a 58% decrease in colorectal cancer, and a 45% decrease in lung cancer
What Should You Take for Bronchitis

A Definition of Bronchitis A respiratory disease that occurs when the mucus membrane in the bronchial passages within the lungs become inflamed, bronchitis may result in coughing spells that occur with phlegm and breathlessness. Bronchitis may occur in one of two forms: acute, which lasts one to three weeks, and chronic, which lasts at least three months of the year for two years in a row. Another form of bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, may occur in people with asthma who experience inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.

Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis Acute bronchitis often results in a hacking cough and phlegm production. Sometimes, people confuse acute bronchitis with an upper respiratory infection because because the symptoms are similar. People with acute bronchitis often experience a shortness of breath, wheezing, a low fever, and chest tightness. Acute bronchitis most often is caused by a virus, but it may sometimes be bacterial in origin. In fact, 90% of acute bronchitis is caused by lung infections that are viral in origin. It is possible for repeated cases of acute bronchitis to result in chronic bronchitis because of the weakened, irritated bronchial airways. Because of its viral nature, acute bronchitis often can be treated effectively without professional medical assistance. It is important to see a medical provider, however, if you have severe or persistent symptoms, have a high fever, or if you cough up blood. It is best to seek emergency medical help if you have trouble breathing or experience chest pain. Chronic bronchitis is a serious long-term disorder that most often requires regular medical treatment. Chronic bronchitis is characterized as a cough that occurs every day with phlegm production that lasts for at least three months, two years in a row. Individuals with chronic bronchitis suffer severe shortness of breath, COPD, respiratory failure, and an increased mortality rate. Chronic bronchitis occurs more often in coal miners, grain handlers, metal molders, and other workers who have continual exposure to dust and fumes. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is long-term cigarette smoking, because smoking irritates the bronchial tubes and results in excess mucus production. People with chronic bronchitis are encouraged to seek medical attention prior to developing chronic bronchitis.

Treating Bronchitis Most people who acquire acute bronchitis do not need to seek professional medical attention because the culprit is a virus that cannot be treated with antibiotics. Keep in mind that if you have a high fever, a severe cough, chest pain, or trouble breathing, you should consult a doctor. For those who do not experience these symptoms, it is possible to treat bronchitis yourself.

  • Breathe steam – Take a hot shower, lean over a steaming bowl of water, or drape a hot towel over your head to inhale steam and loosen the mucus in your lungs.
  • Use a humidifier – Run a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep to add moisture to the air. It’s important to follow the instructions for cleaning the humidifier so that bacteria and mold do not become a problem. Another option is to use a cool-mist humidifier and add a one-pint bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a quarter cup of water and run the humidifier day and night to thin the mucus and help to control the infection.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to thin mucus and cough it up more easily. Also avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages that dehydrate you.
  • Avoid dairy products - Milk and other dairy products contain lactalbumin, which increases the production of mucus in the upper and lower respiratory tract and in the intestines.

Supplements for Treating Bronchitis Supplements can help you treat bronchitis in one of two ways. First, you can take supplements to strengthen your immune system to help you ward off viruses and infections in the first place. Should you still find yourself suffering from bronchitis, you can take vitamins to help treat your symptoms. Researchers have found that probiotics, the good bacteria that exists in your digestive tract, benefit the immune system. Probiotics boost the immune system and help to reduce inflammation and prevent infection because good gut bacteria positively impacts the development of T cells and the immune system's ability to fight off invaders such as viruses and infections. Specifically, probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus gasseriBifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum are particularly helpful in warding off invaders that cause colds and viral bronchitis. If you do have bronchitis, there are some vitamins that have been shown to treat bronchitis symptoms. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe nasal passages and may prevent the occurrence of bronchitis. Vitamins E and A are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Vitamin D increases immunity to help combat bronchitis symptoms. Bronchitis certainly can make life miserable, but if you boost your immune system with probiotics and know how to treat your symptoms with vitamins and other natural remedies, you will start feeling like yourself in no time.

What Does Stress Do to Your Body?

A Definition of Stress Stress is the way the body responds to demands. While we most often refer to stress as a negative factor in our lives, stress is not always bad. Stress may be positive or negative, as determined by the event and the response to it. Eustress, or positive stress, is motivating and helps us focus our energy, is short term, is a perceived component of our coping abilities, feels exciting, and improves our performance. Distress, or negative stress, causes anxiety or concern, may be short or long term, is perceived as being outside of our coping abilities, feels unpleasant, decreases our performance, and leads to mental and physical problems.

Causes of Stress There are several different causes of stress. General causes of stress include threats, fear, uncertainty, and cognitive dissonance, or a disconnect between our actions and our thoughts. People often experience stress as a result of work, illness, family life, relationships, money, and physical changes, among other causes of stress. Typically, stress is caused by a person's perceptions, which may or may not be an accurate reflection of reality. Stressors, or the situations and pressures that cause stress, may be external or internal. Common external stressors include major life changes, work or school, relationship difficulties, financial problems, being too busy or overwhelmed, or children and family. Common internal stressors include chronic worry, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations or perfectionism, a lack of flexibility, and an all-or-nothing attitude.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress Stress affects our bodies in a multitude of ways. When stress becomes so common that it is our way of life, we need to be aware of the ways in which it affects us so that we can get our stress levels under control. In fact, it is important to manage stress because it can damage our health, mood, relationships, and quality of life. If you are experiencing high levels of negative stress, you will most likely exhibit cognitive, emotional, physical, and/or behavioral symptoms.

  • Cognitive symptoms of stress include
    • Memory problems
    • An inability to concentrate
    • Poor judgment
    • Seeing only the negative
    • Being anxious or experiencing racing thoughts
    • Constantly worrying
  • Emotional symptoms of stress include
    • Moodiness, irritability, or a short temper
    • Agitation or an inability to relax
    • Feeing overwhelmed
    • Having a sense of loneliness and isolation
    • Being depressed or generally feeling unhappy
  • Physical symptoms of stress include
    • Aches and pains
    • Diarrhea or constipation
    • Nausea, dizziness
    • Chest pain and/or rapid heartbeat
    • Loss of sex drive
    • Frequent colds
  • Behavioral symptoms of stress include
    • Eating more or less than usual
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Isolating yourself
    • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
    • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to help you relax
    • Beginning nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing

How to Limit the Effects of Stress on the Body According to Greatist, 54% of Americans are concerned about the level of stress they experience in their daily lives. While some people seek therapy or medication to help manage their stress, there are other things that people can begin doing immediately to limit the effects of stress on the body. These stress management techniques include

  • Starting progressive relaxation or light yoga
  • Meditating
  • Deep breathing
  • Listening to music
  • Exercising
  • Laughing it off
  • Getting a massage
  • Taking a nap
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Taking a walk
  • Writing it out

Staying Healthy Despite a High Level of Stress When your stress is a long-term issue that becomes chronic stress, your body is affected by releasing high levels of cortisol for long periods of time. Over time, exposure to these hormones may have mental or physical effects on you. In fact, "people who suffer from chronic or long-term stress can experience symptoms like anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Physically, they risk high blood pressure, heart disease and digestive problems." Those who suffer from chronic stress also must deal with a weakened immune system. People who suffer from chronic stress are susceptible to chronic inflammatory conditions and have a weaker immune system than they should. This leaves chronic stress sufferers vulnerable to autoimmune conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This also means chronic stress sufferers are more susceptible to contracting an infection or disease. To ward off the effects of stress on the immune system, people turn to probiotics. Some of the bacteria that resides in our large intestine is good bacteria that helps to control bad bacteria by producing substances to inhibit or kill the pathogens that can make us sick. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two types of bacteria that are best for boosting our immune system and keeping us healthy during stressful times, so people should look for probiotics that contain those strains of bacteria. Researchers also are learning that gut bacteria has the ability to influence the brain; the bacteria in the large intestine can impact both our emotional responses to stress and our moods. Additionally, French researchers have found that people who take probiotics containing Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have decreased amounts of anger and depression and an increased ability to solve problems. Studies also show that people who take probiotics report having less stress. While we may not be able to completely avoid or eliminate stress in our lives, we certainly can be aware of how it affects our bodies and take steps to manage our stress and improve our health in spite of it. 

Which Vitamins Help Your Immune System?

A Definition of the Immune System  The immune system is a complex system of cells, tissues, and organs that functions to protect the body from infection. The immune system targets microbes, viruses, bacteria, infections, and tumors to protect itself from disease. Scientists continue to study exactly how our immune systems distinguish healthy cells from unhealthy cells, but they have learned that our immune systems recognize signals from danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) or pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and activate a response. However, immune responses are not always adequate, so people suffer infections, and sometimes activate when they should not or fail to deactivate when they should, causing people to suffer allergic reactions and autoimmune disease.

Challenges with the Immune System Some people have immunodeficiency, meaning their immune systems are not as strong as they should be. The result can be recurring and life-threatening infections. Immunodeficiency may occur as a result of a genetic disease, conditions such as HIV and AIDS, and the use of medication that suppresses the immune system. Other people may have autoimmune disease, which occurs when the immune system works in overdrive, attacking normal tissues like it should foreign bodies. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type 1, and lupus. Oftentimes, people who have immune diseases experience fatigue or fever.

The Strength of the Immune System The strength of your immune system can be impacted by your lifestyle. If you catch colds easily, suffer from chronic infection, or get more than two colds a year, you most likely have a weakened immune system. Weak immune systems may be attributed to high levels of stress, eating too much sugar, dehydration, obesity, and drinking well water. There are steps you can take to boost your immune system, such as eating a healthy diet rich in whole foods, low in fats and refined sugars, and adequate in the amount of protein. It’s also important to remain hydrated by drinking five or six eight-ounce glasses of water per day and to remain active by exercising at least 30 minuets per day. Taking the time to relax and enjoy friends and family can also boost your immune system, as can getting at least six to eight hours of sleep per day. Image via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

Vitamins to Boost Your Immune System While you may know that you need to eat well, exercise, and get enough rest, it may not be possible for you to do it every day because of your busy schedule. That’s why it’s important to boost your immune system with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins can make up for occasional poor diet choices, especially when you choose that that have shown to have some potential to boost your immune system. We list some of the best vitamins for strengthening your immune system here:

  • Selenium – Selenium has the potential to slow the body’s overactive responses to some aggressive types of cancer
  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is associated with antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system against infection
  • Vitamin B2 – Vitamin B2 also acts as an antioxidant in the body
  • Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is critical to the function of the immune system and helping the immune response
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C supports and energizes the immune system
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D increases immune function and stimulates the production of antimicrobial peptides
  • Vitamin E – Vitamin E helps the immune system fight off infection
  • Zinc – Zinc helps to control the immune response and control inflammation
  • Folate/folic acid – Folate/folic acid helps the body produce and maintain cell functions
  • Iron – Iron helps the body carry oxygen to the cells, which allows the immune system to remain strong

Probiotics and the Immune System In addition to vitamins, probiotics boost the immune system in a few ways. Various studies are showing the benefits of taking probiotics, such as reducing the risk of the common cold in healthy individuals. Probiotics also reduce the occurrence of catching one or more common colds, the length of days people exhibit common cold symptoms, and the symptoms of a cold. Dr. Simin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at Tufts University, explains how probiotics boost the immune system through the gut: “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25% of the immune cells in the body that provide 50% of the body’s immune response. There are more than 400 species of bacteria residing in the gut, and they have symbiotic relationships with your body.” The gut flora and the microbes there are a key factor in the development and function of the immune system. Probiotics add healthy bacteria to the gut to boost immunity, especially when people negatively impact their intestinal flora with an unbalanced diet, stress, fatigue, and antibiotics. The main role of probiotics in immune health is to help restore balance in the intestinal microbiota. Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders explains: “A growing number of studies show that probiotics can help healthy subjects stay healthy. For example, studies have shown that children in day care centers don’t get sick as often when they consume probiotics. If you combine the mechanistic studies with the studies showing fewer respiratory and GI [gastrointestinal] infections, it suggests that the immune effects are meaningful.” If you think that you are getting sick too often, or if you want to be proactive in your immune health, it is a good idea to consider taking the vitamins shown to boost immune strength and to begin taking probiotics . Taking an active role in boosting your immune system will help you to feel better, have more energy, and stay healthy.

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