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How Different Plant Foods Can Enhance Your Immunity

The human immune system is made up of a complex network of proteins and cells that protect our bodies from disease and illness. Every day, new cells are created and old cells are replaced. As we age, our immune system produces less of these protective proteins and cells, leaving us at risk of getting sick or being sickly.

Plants, including the various immune-boosting plants mentioned here, contain the protein that our bodies need. That protein helps to produce antibodies, chemicals that are needed to fight off infection. One of the keys to health and disease prevention is keeping our immune system in top shape. The best way to do this is to eat a diet that is high in the different plant foods that strengthen the immune system and keep it functioning well.

Plant proteins help our immune systems to do their job. They boost its functions and help to make it more effective at fighting disease. A healthy immune system means that you have a healthy body. It may not sound like fun, but it is really important to your overall health.

Antioxidants are another important aspect of keeping the immune system healthy. They reduce the damage caused by free radicals in our bodies and neutralize them before they can do any damage. Some foods are very high in antioxidants, including blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, and spinach. Other foods are lower in antioxidants, including red meats, seafood, and peanut butter.

Plant proteins also play an important role in the production of hormones that build the immune system. They stimulate the production of the hormones that help our bodies to fight off infection. These hormones include interferon, an important protein involved in the fight against colds and flu. Other hormones that are produced by the body to build the immune system are glucocorticoids and lymphocytes.

Plants also contain fat. Some types of fat are actually essential to a healthy immune system, such as omega 3 fats found in salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Others, such as vegetable oil, contribute to a weak immune system. Fatty acids slow down the process of healing and make us more prone to colds and the flu. It is therefore important to choose healthy oils for cooking and baking.

How different plant foods can enhance your immunity depends on their chemical makeup. Plants are made up of many different compounds, many of which we don't even recognize. Researchers have isolated these compounds and studied how they affect the body and how they change our immune function. For example, scientists have shown that beta carotene, a powerful carotenoid, can suppress the activity of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). A compound called lycopene is believed to prevent cancer and reduce risks of heart disease.

Scientists have also isolated nutrients that are beneficial to our immune system and those that we need to avoid. For example, scientists have shown that eating a certain kind of mold can suppress the immune system. But consuming it in the form of a spice or added to food can increase the risk of infection. In other words, you may want to consider avoiding mushrooms if you have been diagnosed with a fungal infection. However, most of us probably won't worry about mold unless we are actually allergic to it.

Another example is the way plants can affect our blood pressure. Several plants lower levels quickly and some significantly. Some of these foods are lecithin, fatty acids, and phytosterols. Lecithin is considered a waxy vegetable oil that protects the membrane of the cell and lecithin itself is a polysaccharide that produces a chemical that works as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help remove free radicals (harmful chemicals) from our bodies and improve overall immune system function.

Of course, there are more general differences between plant foods and their effects on our immune system. One of the most important is lectins. These are complex carbohydrates that work like antibodies. They bind to cells and interfere with the recognition of the body's own inflammatory response causing inflammation to worsen.

Although lectins may not directly cause inflammation they can lead to it indirectly. This is why some people are at risk of developing allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders. Any food that causes excessive binding of lectins will likely cause your immune system to be sluggish and less effective. The good news is that you can optimize its effect on your immune system by including more whole grains, nuts and seeds. The bottom line is that a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruits will help your body stay strong.